A trip to Hoxton Mini Press
11th May 2016
As we veered off from London Fields into what appeared to be an industrial estate we couldn’t help thinking, ‘are we in the right place?!’ That is until we saw railway arches filled with quirky cafes, upcycled mismatching furniture, bearded gents and the odd vintage bicycle, suddenly it all felt very east London. It’s the sort of place you would never really go unless you knew it was cool, which only makes it cooler. It’s here amongst corrugated steel and the trendy ankle-baring elite that you can find one of London’s most exciting, yet still very small, publishing teams; Martin, Ann, Ruth and their two completely adorable dogs Moose and Bug, otherwise known as Hoxon Mini Press.
Those London-savvy bunch amongst you may be thinking that this is Hackney not Hoxton, so where did the name come from? Well Hoxton was where it all began. It actually began with an 86 1/2 year old man stumbling amongst the Hoxton hipsters in London’s trendy east district, a sight so intriguing to photographer Martin Usborne, he felt compelled to take the old man’s picture. From there came a whole book filled with beautiful pictures and fascinating stories about born and bread east Londoner Joseph Markovich’s life and his relationship with the ever-changing East End. Martin’s self published I’ve Lived In East London For 86 1/2 Years is a truly heart-warming and honest observation of my new home, needless to say I instantly fell in love with it.
Following the success of his first publication, Martin and his wife, Ann, founded Hoxton Mini Press, an independent publishing company making amazing photography and illustration books, most of which still focus on the wonderfully eclectic and eccentric east London. Their latest venture sees their second big coffee table book. We absolutely love their first, The Makers of East London, which we’ve stocked it in our Cotes Mill showrooms for some time now, so when we heard about this latest big release we were excited to get our hands on a copy.
East London Food is far from your usual city grub guide, authors Rosie Birkett and Helen Cathcart capture the spirit of this vibrant and rapidly evolving gastro-community. Although a more ‘commercial’ subject, the book, much like 86 1/2 years and many of Hoxton Press’s collection, has a distinctive humanistic quality, filled with stories about people rather than just places and, of course, with page upon page of the most beautiful pictures. From community projects, to family run hidden gems, to Michelin-star chefs, it’s a diverse insight into a huge cultural aspect of the East End, with the added bonus of having a little pull out book of some of their favourite recipes.
One of my favourite ways to explore a city is through my stomach, I spent a recent 8 hour stopover wandering around the back alleys of Beijing in search of the weirdest and most delicious treats I could find. So to me this book is the perfect way to get a flavour of one of London’s coolest areas, a taste that can be taken away and recreated in your own kitchen. In fact we left so inspired we had to go on a google maps treasure hunt to find some of the places we’d read about. We didn’t have to go far, E5 Bakehouse, an independent organic bakery, sits nestled under one of the railway arches a stone’s throw from the office. Not only did this cute cafe open up to the bakery in the back, but next door they even had a stone mill so they can mill everything on site. It looked so cool and it’s probably one of the best sourdoughs I have ever eaten! A little further up the road we found Raw Duck, Duck Soup’s bigger and bolder sister restaurant that celebrates culinary curiosity, seasonal produce and a passion for fermenting and pickling. It has a quirky yet simple menu and a decor to match – we loved these big concrete slab tables and carefully selected tableware, all very urban rustic.
Now armed with their E8 postcode and a fast growing reputation, I was keen to find out what exciting new projects the team had up their sleeves. True to form their next series is completely different from East London Food; a mini series of collectable photography books by photographers loved by the team. From the most hilarious botched repair jobs to 24 ways to peel a banana and other tales from the world of hand modelling, the collection takes a step away from the east London community yet still has the light-hearted, fun style that makes them feel distinctively ‘Hoxton Mini Press’. Their fans seemed to think so too, as it was their donations from the recent kickstarter campaign that meant the books were able to be published.
With more plans to branch out of the east, including a few books in the pipeline centred around London and bigger dreams to move on to the rest of the world, I asked Ruth if there was a fear they would lose that special community spirit that seems to resonate so heavily with their readers. “Not really” she replied, “or at least I hope not. Our readers are from here there and everywhere, it seems to be more of the style of the book rather than the location.” And it’s true, we’ve been selling quite a few of their books for some time at Cotes Mill. It may seem a little strange for a Leicestershire company to be selling books about the people and places of a corner of London, but our customers love them. It’s like peeping into someone’s life, it doesn’t matter if you share their city if you share their passion.
I for one cannot wait to see what’s coming next…
– ‘East London Food’ and a selection of our favourite Hoxton Mini Press books are now available from our Cotes Mill Showrooms.
– To see the whole of the Hoxton Mini Press collection, visit their website here.