It's our Interior Design Magazine!
The hottest interior design ideas, fab finds for the home and the latest in interiors trends. We're always looking for new finds, designers to feature or anything else lovely for the home, so if you've seen something gorgeous and would like it featured in our interior design magazine, please get in touch!
Discover Chinoiserie style and spice up your home with a hint of Eastern promise.
Chinoiserie designers tapped into European fantasies of Eastern exoticism. An insatiable desire for exotic goods fuelled the imaginative re-creation of a veiled and mysterious land for European consumption. The East became a magic lantern for the projection of European desires.
Fantasies of Eastern promise and Oriental opulence have stirred the British imagination for centuries. The opening of trade routes with the East had a huge influence on British design and exotic styles reached the height of fashion in the 18th century. A mania for porcelain, silk and lacquer imported from China and Japan inspired British designers and craftsmen to imitate Asian designs, creating their own fantasy versions of the enigmatic East. A generalised impression of mysterious Eastern lands, and the exotic allure of China in particular, inspired a fanciful style that came to be known as Chinoiserie. At the peak of its popularity in the mid 18th century, Chinoiserie was often combined with Rococo, a style characterised by exuberant asymmetrical ornament and sharing similar fantastical elements. Chinoiserie remained popular in the 19th century and Art Deco designers looked to the East once more in the 1920s.
In the 18th century Chinoiserie style was used right across applied arts, as well as for interior decoration, furniture, and garden buildings such as the pagoda at Kew. Objects featured fantastic landscapes, fanciful pavilions, exotic birds and Chinese figures. Interiors often combined genuine Asian elements such as Chinese wallpaper and porcelain with imaginative evocations of the East. Dragons were popular decorative motifs, epitomising for British designers the mysterious allure of Asia. The rooflines of Chinese pagodas were also incorporated into a wide range of Chinoiserie objects, including ornate gilt-framed mirrors and canopied four-poster beds. Wooden furniture was often lacquered, or ‘japanned’, and decorated with imaginary Oriental scenes. Chair legs might take the form of bamboo, and latticework backrests were derived from Chinese screens.
While Chinese was the most popular of the exotic styles throughout the Georgian period, by the end of the 18th century the vogue for exoticism included Egyptian, Moorish and Indian influenced designs. Along with Chinoiserie these styles were often combined in fantastical objects and interiors. A fabulous example of the plurality of exoticism is the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Between 1815 and 1823 John Nash transformed the original neoclassical building into a fantastic (and fantastically camp) Eastern palace for King George IV. The extraordinary exterior combines Indian, Moorish and Chinese architectural styles. Mogul-inspired onion domes, minaret towers and tented roofs preside over Islamic arches and perforated screens based on Indian jalis.
The interiors underwent several phases of Chinoiserie decoration, designed by Frederick Crace and Robert Jones. Vaulted plasterwork ceilings were designed to evoke the interiors of tents and pagodas. Interior columns took the form of palm trees and oversized bamboo canes, or were decorated with plasterwork ornament in the form of lotus leaves. Serpents and dragons slivered across the walls. The cast-iron balustrades of the central staircase imitated bamboo and the walls in the long gallery, depicting an illusionistic Oriental scene, were partitioned with simulated bamboo fretwork. Painted skylights, lanterns decorated with tassels, and magnificent crystal chandeliers with glass lotus leaf shades lit up the rooms. The whole place was absolutely saturated with colour and pattern. Luxurious wall-to-wall carpets featured elaborate hand-knotted designs, and drew together the decorative elements of each room.
Personally I can’t think of anything much better than a palm tree column to bring a bit of class to a home; but if you don’t want to go for the whole Chinoiserie shebang, you can find elegant Eastern-inspired accent pieces on Furnish. OKA’s Manchu furniture range features Oriental landscapes picked out in gold on a black lacquered ground. The Manchu chest has a different scene on each of its six drawer fronts. In the traditional blue and white glaze, the Kraakware lamp base is hand-painted with Chinese warrior scenes, and crockery is available in the same pattern. The oversized Imperial vase is a striking accent piece, with characteristic blue and white pattern, long slender neck and bulbous base.
Orchid sources antique Chinese furniture and creates sophisticated Eastern-inspired pieces using sustainable materials. The Mandarin furniture collection is effortlessly elegant, displaying clean lines, lustrous black-lacquered finish and authentic brass handles and door catches. The Mandarin screen features four richly lacquered panels with traditional Chinese fretwork on the upper sections. Evoking the rich colour scheme of Chinoiserie style, Orchid’s reproduction elm cabinets have a yellow-gold lacquer finish and each door features a hand-painted red chrysanthemum in a ceramic-blue vase. Restored antique pieces include a beautiful lacquered elm sideboard (c.1870) with vivid hand-painted decoration in red, yellow and green.
Lombok sources furniture direct from factories in Indonesia and Vietnam. Highlights include the solid wood black-lacquered Canton range with distressed finish and patinated brass handles and drawer pulls. The Canton sideboard and nine-drawer chest are particularly striking. Puji specialises in the design and import of recycled hardwood furniture, which is hand made in Indonesia by local craftsmen. The Shanxi furniture range in white or black lacquer has an understated elegance and would fit in with almost any decorative scheme. I’ve got my eye on the dressing table.
Create an atmosphere of Eastern promise with exotic Chinoiserie-inspired pieces.
Do your dining room proud with this intricate Coral chair from 95% Danish. £145
When I come across a new chair I am as excited as a small child at Christmas.
My favourite new one at the moment is this Coral chair from 95% Danish.
On closer inspection, you can see how this chair got it's name as it more than resembles a piece of coral reef.
Made from high quality plastic, this chair can be used inside or out making it an extremely versatile buy.
I love the intricate detailing and the combination of something so hard and man made being used to create something so heavily influenced by nature.
Available in Anthracite and Army Green, this chair will make a welcome addition to any dining room.
Light up your home with these Hamburg and Copenhagen table lamps from Brissi. From £59
With the darker nights setting in already, it's time to turn your attention to getting your lighting scheme ready for autumn.
Table lamps offer the one of the most effective and atmospheric ways to light a room. You can dot them around to add cosiness and move them from room to room should you get bored.
Some of the nicest I've seen for a long time are the Hamburg and Copenhagen designs from Brissi.
I adore their spindly bases and simple yet ever-so chic shades.
The Hamburg design is available in two sizes, medium and large while the smallest of the trio, Copenhagen makes up the collection. Perfect for living rooms or as a bedside table, these elegant lamps will work well whatever your style.
Sit back in style with this vintage leather club chair from Rose & Grey. £725
It's no secret to regular readers that I absolutely love chairs.
Designer, high street, the latest design, the most beautiful vintage - I adore them and it's not because I like to sit down a lot.
A recent discussion about the furniture in my flat with the other half concluded that while our rather sleek leather armchair is gorgeous, it ain't very comfortable.
This means we're in the market for a new armchair.
While this will will no doubt mean a very lengthily trawl about the internet and the odd second-hand shops, I have found one that has caught my eye.
The Vintage leather club chair from Rose & Grey looks like its come straight from a gentlemen's club. I love the slightly battered leather, the shape and the stud detailing.
But most of all, I love the deep, sink-into seat.
I reckon if I get this chair, it will be the one everyone fights to sit in so I'm claiming it as mine.
Liven up your walls with these classic mirrors from An Angel At My Table. From £25
I’m not entirely sure why it’s taken me so long to feature An Angel At My Table as a Fab Find, but as the saying goes, better late than never.
The website is a treasure trove for all interiors nuts, featuring furniture, gorgeous cushions and throws and exquisite lighting.
My favourites are these Boho Blanc mirrors which are simply divine. Made from white plaster, they feature intricate Rococo-style detailing and are available in four sizes.
Try using a selection of them on one wall to create a wall of mirrors, this will instantly lift a dark or dingy room and bring extra light into your space.
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Roll up, roll up, and scroll down for three more lovely blogs.
Heartfire at Home is a great ideas blog. Keeping the home fires burning in Australia, Linda always has something up her sleeve to get you inspired to change things around at home. She’s all about taking risks with décor and going with gut instinct to create a personalised space. The photographs of interiors are full of ideas and indulge Linda’s obsession with colour and pattern. As well as a lovely string of interiors images, there are posts that focus on specific designers, artists and products. There’s always something to spark the imagination and leave you wanting more.
Design Crisis is the collaborative project of two Texas-based creative types, Katy and Erin. Erin’s a photographer, and Katy seems to have fingers in all sorts of pies. She set up the Austin Craft Mafia, a collective of crafty ladies who have their own TV show on the DIY network. Wow. And the blog is fantastic: irreverent, well written and full of design inspiration. There’s a whole section devoted to animals in art and design, which just about sums up the quirky spirit of Design Crisis. These ladies know where to look for great design and the interiors photographs are a constant source of inspiration.
Eye Spy is a daily collection of design images to delight and inspire. From beautiful interiors and cutting edge design, to age-worn objects and flea market finds, it’s chock full of style ideas. An Atlanta-based blogger, Susie’s a graphic designer with a great eye for style. She’s constantly sifting through interiors magazines, design books, catalogues and blogs, searching for things to inspire. There are regular posts showcasing the bargains to be had on 1st dibs, ebay and craigslist. She’s also redecorating at the moment so expect some obligatory ‘before and after’ photos.
As always, get in touch and we’ll feature your blog next time.
Add your own twist on telling the time with this DIY clock from Soulful Toaster. £44.99
Soulful Toaster is a delightful interiors website, selling everything from kitchen accessories to funky, kids’ products.
The selection on offer may be small but it’s very considered and needless to say, I fell in love with almost everything. Top of my wish list is this DIY clock.
It’s made up of traditional clock hands and 12 different sized frames which make up the clock face. Allowing you to be ultra creative, the frames can be used to house anything you wish. Why not try cutting numbers out of different wallpapers, using favourite snaps or anything that takes your fancy.
Bring a warm autumnal glow to your home with brown.
An earthy neutral that will offer a timeless look, we take a look at how brown can bring a warm, welcoming feel to your home.
Choosing the right brown
Brown is softer on the eye than black and it has a timeless quality that can suit either a traditional or contemporary interior. Made up of all the primary colours mixed together, brown hues offer a variety of different undertones that can compliment an interior based in either warm or cool shades. Mochas and chocolate shades are perfect for living areas and bedrooms because they offer warm undertones that give a natural welcoming feel.
Choose lighter browns for walls so as not to make a room feel dark or small; however, in a larger, lighter room you can experiment with darker browns to highlight a feature wall. Ralph Lauren speciality finish paint in the suede look is a good choice because it has been designed to bring a distinctive suede texture and appearance your walls. Try this in a modern bedroom to create an interesting and unique style.
Dark chocolate suede and leather furnishings are popular because they ooze luxury and opulence; both offer a classic and long-lasting element that is perfect for upholstered furniture in a contemporary home. Key furniture pieces such as leather sofas or arm chairs, or headboards or footstools, are a great way of bringing a sophisticated and masculine look to a room. The Vitra Polder leather sofa from Utility is a modern take on a traditional design.
Choose a tonal scheme to stop your room from becoming bland; layer your décor in varying shades of brown too add dimension and interest. To give the feeling of space, use darker browns nearest the floor and lighter shades nearer the ceiling. Try the dark brown Sable rug from Puji to add warmth and texture to wooden flooring. Also, try experimenting with pattern to lift your colour scheme; Orla Kiely’s Stem lambswool cushion will draw the eye and add a sense of movement..
For a clean look, design a monochromatic scheme with whites and creams that will give a natural and earthy appearance that will soften and lighten up your room. You can introduce black into a brown interior, for example, in a bedroom you can accessorise using black blinds, curtains or cushions for a dramatic appearance.
Combine brown with rich, burnt tones of red and orange, such as terracotta, for a lavish and inviting feel. Or add a bit of spice to a bedroom with red throws or duvet covers, or choose wall art pieces of dreamy sunsets.
Unexpected combinations of blue, purple or fuchsia with brown can be integrated into your interior by using soft furnishings to add excitement to your scheme. Bright table runners, dinnerware, cushions or throws in these colours will give a cheery pop of colour. Try turquoise on an accent wall or decorative pieces, for example vases or cushions, to add a touch of serenity to your room. Greens can enhance an earthy brown, these colours make a good combination in nature, and you can incorporate this into your home by using plants and decorative vases such as the cylinder vase from Utility.
Bring your walls to life with these coral wall hangings from Natural History. £250
When I think of wall hangings, hideous batik riots of colour or some equally disturbing tie dye sheet in student halls spring to mind.
Which is why I never thought they were for me, however that was before I came across these beautiful ones from Natural History. These wall hangings each feature an exquisite illustration of coral, which will instantly lift a plain wall.
Available in subtle red or blue, they measure over a metre square which means they’re perfect for creating a feature wall without even having to reach for a paint brush or pasting table. And the best bit of all, is that should you tire of them in one room, you can simply unhook and move them to another.
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Too many cooks may spoil the broth but you can cook and dine in style with our guide to bespoke kitchens.
They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and there’s something enticing about designing a room that’s completely unique and full of personality.
Our guide leads you through all the important details that will help you create your own bespoke kitchen.
When planning a bespoke kitchen it’s important to have an idea of what you want from your space. Search online and through magazines and catalogues, and visit showrooms to see what fittings, surfaces, materials and colours will work best in your kitchen. Take the basic measurements of the area to present to the designer. Practicality is a key element, so make sure you plan for sufficient storage and work top space, keeping the style you want in mind too. Your kitchen should essentially be designed around how you like to cook and dine, whether you eat on the go, cook for a family and use the space for entertaining.
A fundamental part of planning is deciding on a budget and then sticking to it, allowing a little extra for contingencies.
Finding the right company for you
There are a multitude of bespoke kitchen companies out there. One way to determine who the right fit is for you is to see previous work they’ve done. Most will have a online portfolios so you can do some research before even meeting them. Many kitchen companies will offer a complementary design service so take your plan to them and discuss the various options. Gather a few quotes from different companies and decide which one will offer you the best bespoke kitchen design to fit your budget.
Top Tip: Roundhouse Director, Jamie Telford, says that meeting designers is a great idea: “Find someone who you can work with. A good designer will be able to guide you confidently through the whole process to arrive at your perfect kitchen. Designing a bespoke kitchen is a collaboration between you and the designer and it should be fun!”
Setting the brief and budget
You will discuss options and alternatives with the designer, so be prepared to be flexible with your overall brief. The designer will find the most suitable design to fit your kitchen and your budget. Some of the main points you should cover in your brief are: what style kitchen you want; the measurements and layout; chosen colour scheme, lighting, wall and floor treatments, and your budget limit. Try not to be too swayed by the budget when you meet the designer, while top-of-the range designer taps may be something they view as an essential, you may not agree.
Top Tip: Advice from Jamie Telford, Roundhouse Director: “A new kitchen will add considerably to the value of the property but the budget should be in-line with the re-sale value.”
Choosing your kitchen
Think stylish but functional, and consider what works and what doesn’t work well in your current kitchen. Keep resale at the back of your mind because anything too personal may deter future buyers. The best types of kitchen are functional; create a “universal” room that will be versatile for everyone from children to the elderly. For efficiency, use “the work triangle” as a basis for your design, ensuring that there’s a clear space between your sink, fridge and cooker.
Take into account the amount of natural light that enters the room because too many wall-mounted cupboards can make a room darker. Colour is also an important element in the overall appearance of a kitchen; white has always been popular because it gives a clean look, however too much white can create a cold and sterile feel.
Remember the whole point of choosing a bespoke kitchen is so you can get exactly what you want. Don’t be afraid to ask your designer for something out of the ordinary or different to what they suggest – you’re the one who will have to live with the finished kitchen so it’s important it fits your style and home.
Choosing the extras
Worktops need to be highly durable, heat and stain resistant, and easy to clean. You can choose from wood, granite, stainless steel, or composite stone, and bespoke versions are available from different designers. Lizzie Beesley, conceptual designer at Metris Kitchens, commented: “The trend for material mix is gathering pace and increasingly more than one surface material is used in the kitchen to great effect. Design-wise, material mix can be used to differentiate work areas or to simply create a contrast between materials, textures and colours. If granite or stone is simply too costly to surface an entire kitchen, then consumers elect to have one area in stone, perhaps an island unit, and then the other areas in laminate.”
Roundhouse offer bespoke splashbacks in glass, stainless steel and veneers as an extension of the work top to protect the walls. However, not all bespoke kitchen companies offer tiles and flooring, so check out Fired Earth’s collection of handcrafted tiles, or Stonehouse’s natural stone tiles to complete your bespoke kitchen.
Avoiding the pitfalls
A common cause of worry is that designers will overcharge or pressurise you into paying for something you don’t want. However, as long as you have researched and found out what’s available and at what cost, you will establish a confident relationship with the designer.
Think about whether your ideal kitchen is realistically going to work in the space that you’ve got; plan around the size of your kitchen and maximise the potential it has with practical and innovative storage solutions.
Top Tip: Jamie Telford (Roundhouse Director) picks up on one of the most common mistakes: “Don’t try and cram too much into your kitchen. Don’t get carried away with your appliance list, and have so many appliances that you have no storage space.”
We look back on Arts and Crafts style and highlight designers upholding the movement’s legacy.
We look back on Arts and Crafts style and highlight designers upholding the movement’s legacy. Celebrating quality construction, skilled craftsmanship, and the beauty of natural materials, the Arts and Crafts movement has renewed relevance in today’s hyper-commercialised world. Ideals of quality over quantity, ‘truth to materials’, and beauty in simplicity are making a resurgence, as concerns over economic and environmental sustainability are reflected by contemporary designer-makers.
Arts and Crafts designers railed against the plethora of poorly made objects and sham historical styles churned out as a result of growing industrialisation and commercialisation in Victorian Britain. Developing in the 1860s as a reaction against stuffy ornament-filled interiors, gaudy commercialism and industrial production, the Arts and Crafts movement sought to restore the link between beauty and utility, material and design, hand and object. Rejecting the division of labour in industrial manufacture as dehumanising, Arts and Crafts designers set up small workshops in which objects were made from start to finish by skilled craftsmen. Handcrafting and taking pleasure in work were seen as morally uplifting, and morality of manufacture was coupled with morality of design. ‘Truth to materials’ was the moral compass of good design. The inherent beauty of natural materials was celebrated and designers were to have a full understanding of the material being worked in order to produce well-designed objects fit for purpose.
The high moral seriousness of the Arts and Crafts movement might be a bit of a turn off. (It’s detailed in possibly the most tiresome tome in the history of design: News from Nowhere, by William Morris.) But a visit to one of the great houses of the Arts and Crafts movement, Rodmarton Manor in Gloucestershire, dispels any misgivings about the actual designs produced. Hallmarks of Arts and Crafts style include simple structural forms (used to emphasise the natural qualities of materials), exposed construction (such as wooden pegs and joints), tactile ergonomic design and organic patterns. All these are evident in the interiors at Rodmarton Manor, while the exterior draws on the bold forms of vernacular architecture in rural Britain.
Designed by Ernest Barnsley in 1909, the house features traditional Cotswold architectural details including gables, stone mullions, leaded lights and tall chimneys. Employing local craftsmen, it was built using local stone and tiles, as well as timber felled from the surrounding area. Much of the furniture was made for the house at Rodmarton workshops and includes designs by Ernest Gimson, Alfred and Louise Powell, Ernest Barnsley’s brother Sidney, and Sidney’s son Edward. Perhaps the very best work, and that which goes furthest to shake off the ‘backward provincial’ tag, is by Dutch émigré cabinet-maker Peter Waals.
Waals produced two burr walnut writing cabinets for the drawing room at Rodmarton as well as numerous other pieces. Finished to a high lustre, the cabinets show off the beautiful grain of the walnut, featuring raised panels and drawers with chamfered edges, exposed dovetail joints, holly and ebony inlays, and handles with carved finger holds. The rooms at Rodmarton are large, and furniture was built to match: great dressers, chests and cabinets with multiple drawers, tactile grab handles and sliding wooden door catches. But the quality of detailing is remarkable: delicate inlays, turned, tapered and chamfered wood, and multiple timbers enhanced to bring out the grain. Oak floorboards are overlaid with bright hand-knotted rugs; whitewashed walls enhance feelings of light and space; curtains and drapes feature organic patterns based on floral and animal forms. In the library, a huge screen painted by Louise Powell depicts young ferns, spindly trees with delicate blossoms, and frolicking squirrels and birds. After visiting Rodmarton in 1914, C R Ashbee, an influential exponent of Arts and Crafts style, proclaimed that ‘the English Arts and Crafts movement at its best is here’.
Although the Arts and Crafts movement is associated with the country life, it had a strong cosmopolitan base. Arts and Crafts style was popularised by shops such as Liberty and Co. though which designers including C F A Voysey, Ashbee and William Morris sold their work. Liberty adopted Arts and Crafts as its signature style, and continues to produce fabrics by Arts and Crafts designers today. With the current resurgence of interest in craft, and the desire for quality over quantity in economically uncertain times, the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement are making a comeback. Contemporary designers are spearheading a revival of craftsmanship and traditional skills.
Tom Dixon’s Beat vessels and shades are made from hand beaten brass using a traditional, rapidly vanishing skill from Indian master craftsman. His pressed glass pendant lights are hand cast and each reflects the inclusions and imperfections of the manufacturing process. Dixon established the brand in 2002 with a commitment to reviving the British furniture industry, and his work draws on Britain’s craft heritage. Dixon’s Natural Slab chair has all the Arts and Crafts hallmarks. Crafted from solid oak with a deeply brushed surface, exposing the grain of the wood, visible wooden pegs fix the seat to the frame. Innovation is combined with traditional craftsmanship to create a space-saving, stackable dining chair. Dixon’s Offcut furniture range uses scraps or ‘off-cuts’ of oak that would otherwise have been discarded, and embraces the beauty of imperfection. Arts and Crafts ideals are united with current environmental concerns.
Anna Lockwood of Lockwood Design creates unique, one-off pieces of furniture. She specialises in traditional upholstery techniques and uses natural materials such as hessian, coir fibre, horsehair and calico. Sourcing vintage and antique pieces as well as providing a complete restoration service or a simple recover, her work is environmentally friendly and craft driven. The Holland occasional chair has an Arts and Crafts look about it, with a turned wood frame and seat upholstered in orange felt. The Benjamin wing armchair has the same 100% wool felt upholstery and beautiful bees-waxed legs. It wouldn’t look amiss at Rodmarton Manor.
Running an apprenticeship scheme and employing and training up workers from the local area, Benchmark continues the legacy of the Cotswold Arts and Crafts movement responsible for Rodmarton Manor. Producing contemporary classics with sustainability in mind, Benchmark is founded on a belief in the timeless appeal of good design. Celebrating high quality materials and traditional craftsmanship, the furniture collection is hand made to order from start to finish in the workshops in West Berkshire. The angle-fronted Admiral Cabinet in American black walnut with lacquer finish epitomizes ‘truth to materials’, working to bring out the natural beauty of the wood grain. Crafted from solid fumed oak with a lacquer finish, the Jack Pedestal dining table recalls a design by Ernest Gimson in the Drawing room at Rodmarton. The Darcey table and Furrow sideboard evoke the simple sophistication of Arts and Crafts furniture.
Good design and quality construction never date. Celebrate design innovation and invest in the future of traditional craft skills.
Add some subtle pattern to your walls with the True Blue tiles collection from Susie Watson Designs. £7.75 each
We don’t often feature tiles as Fab Finds here on Furnish.co.uk, but when I saw the stunning designs from Susie Watson, I just knew I had to share them with you.
There are tonnes of designs to choose from, but what really caught my eye was the True Blue collection (not least because the Madonna album of the same name was my very first LP).
The range consists of four designs; three delicate motifs featuring a star, heart and flower and a pale blue plain design. An update on traditional delft, these pretty tiles will look fantastic wherever you use them.
Try using a mixture of the plain and motifs to create an elegant splash back for a sink or basin or even to add a new look to a fireplace.
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Give your table a patriotic feel with this Britannia china from Bottle Green Homes. From £10.95
Perhaps it’s because the London Olympics are fast approaching, but it seems interiors are having a patriotic moment. You can barely move for Union Jack inspired homewares and while I’m not exactly against a bit of flag waving, I prefer my patriotism a little more subtle.
Available as a teapot, mug and small plate, each piece comes with this stylish and evocative “Made in Britain” back stamp mark which is traditionally on the underneath of products. Ideal as a chunky breakfast set, this collection is sure to add some national pride to any dining table.
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We take a look at how black+blum bring innovative style to your home.
Creative designers Dan Black and Martin Blum complete the Anglo-Swiss partnership of black+blum. Their design consultancy business, set up in 1998, has given them the opportunity to explore and develop their passion for design through their own range of functional products.
What makes black+blum unique is that they don’t create fashion products that only have a short lifespan because they are based on current trends. Instead, their aim is to create designs that will inspire people’s imaginations and give lasting enjoyment. They’re proud to showcase designs that offer longevity; the products all serve a practical use which should still give them value in many years to come.
The Loop candelabra and the Flower loop vase showcase black+blum’s elegant yet minimal style. The Loop designs are inspired by the Fibonacci curve which can be seen throughout nature, giving a balanced and aesthetically pleasing look. The loops can be linked together and used in interesting ways; rotating it offers a different look from every angle, giving the design a fresh and changeable look. Both designs offer good functionality and they’re based on the fact that people, from history and into the foreseeable future, will always have a use for them.
black+blum are renowned for producing designs that have huge amounts of character; so, it is not surprising that one of their hero products is the award-winning James the doorstop who offers plenty of personality. Due to popular demand, this quirky design has also been remodelled into a bookend. James the bookend is made from synthetic rubber, except for the black version which is made from recycled material, and it can be used individually or as a pair. The stainless steel plate fixed to his foot gives him the strength to hold up a number of books. Transcending taste, the James products are widely recognised, and people appreciate the design for its functionality and humour.
My favourite product is the Kind of Magic light which tricks the eye into believing that this is just an ordinary light. However, the shade is suspended from the ceiling with fishing wire so it appears to be floating. This illusion makes it possible to arrange and personalise the light in any way you want; it transforms easily from a floor lamp to a table lamp, creating a fascinating piece of feature lighting.
One of black+blum’s newest products is the high&dry dishrack which took them two years to develop; its distinctive style, inspired by architecture, has recently won an International Design Award in America. Dan and Martin came up with the design when they realised that there was a niche in the market. The design has a unique and appealing sculptural shape that looks good when in use, and also enables it to fold down into a compact size for easy storage. The unique flip spout on the drainage tray gives you the option to drain or not, depending on your kitchen set-up.
black+blum’s products are available on furnish.co.uk, and for their latest news and events visit their website at www.black-blum.com.
This week we’re visiting San Francisco, Marrakesh and New York City.
SF Girl by Bay unsurprisingly hails from San Francisco and the blog is as beautiful as the city. The photographs have a dream-like nostalgia to them and the blog is known for representing ‘bohemian modern style’. Created by Victoria Smith, it’s a scrapbook of interiors inspiration, showcasing art and craft, new designers, products and trends, with a heap of shopping tips thrown in. She’s a flea market junky with a love of photography, and her fabulous finds are shared with all. There’s a great recent post on Scandinavian style. You could get caught up on here all day.
My Marrakesh is brought to you by ‘Moroccan Maryam’ and billed as ‘the tales of an American family’s quest to build a guesthouse in Marrakesh.’ But it’s much more than that. Maryam’s a travel obsessive, a guidebook writer and a human rights specialist. With a job that’s taken her all over the world, she’s developed a passion for global textiles, carpets and Moorish culture. And the blog’s definitely got that ‘global traveller’ feel, a wonderful riot of colour, pattern and sun-drenched style. The guesthouse, Peacock Pavilions, is a real find if you’re thinking of a Moroccan trip. And the family have three peacocks as pets, which just about sums up the lifestyle.
Hollister Hovey is such a charming blog, it’s just mesmerising: a string of pearls. Beautiful photographs, printed ephemera, Polaroid snapshots, flea market finds, and design historical bits and pieces, are a continuous source of intrigue and delight. The ‘acquisitions’ posts bring out an alarming covetousness, and the blogger’s house, stuffed full of beautiful vintage finds, is enough to make me weep. I’m actually quite lost for words when it comes to describing the wonder of this blog. If you live anywhere near New York or you’re planning a visit, it’s a must-see for insider tips on the best places for ferreting out a vintage bargain. But if a trip stateside is out of the question, just go on here and dream the dream.
Once again, get in touch if you want us to feature your very own blog next time.
We uncover Ella Doran’s inspiration and how she captures the wonders of nature in print.
Ella Doran’s prints are now iconic within the world of interior designs and can be seen on everything from blinds to table mats. Ella has received several awards including the ‘Most Influential Designer’ Award from her peers at Hidden Art, and the Laurent Perrier Eureka 2006 award. Her designs combine and translate the vivacity of nature and art, bringing colour and interest into your home.
We interviewed Ella to find out what inspires her, and here’s what she said...
If you had 3 words to describe your style what would they be?
Colourful, photographic, and bold.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It comes from the world around me; my children and family; the city; the countryside, and travelling. I constantly have my eyes open for new ideas.
What’s your ‘hero’ product and why?
I think it would have to be our bespoke blinds and particularly the 'Sunlight through Leaves' design. Making bespoke blinds just really adds something extra and individual to a room, and that particular design works so well. If the blind is down and there is still some light outside, it makes the image glow and it’s simply stunning.
How important is colour to your designs/prints?
Massively important! It’s often the colour that draws me to a new idea. It’s always colour that I love to absorb, like a sponge. And in terms of production it is always the colour that can lift a product from good to exceptional.
The popularity of your photographic coasters, based on photos you had taken on a trip abroad, was the catalyst for developing your business. How important is photography and capturing nature/life to you and your designs?
Photography is my pencil; my tool, my aid. Often I take my best shots when I’m not intending to. It’s the light that draws me towards a subject outdoors, be it leaves on a tree or a large building. Often I can see more in the photograph after I have taken it and use this in another way than I had originally intended. My Geo design is a bit like this because it came from a photo of a building I took in Berlin, and in post production I have reworked it to become something completely different. Its repetition inspires many people to see all sorts of different things.
What is the most recent design product that you have bought for your home?
I recently bought the 'Hang it All', Charles and Ray Eames coat hanger from TwentyTwentyOne (Islington). I have a long standing love affair with Eames’, the way they designed for industry and children, both with love, care, wit and attention to detail in such an all-encompassing way, and the freedom with which they applied their craft.
Who is your favourite interior designer of all time and why?
I don’t have one in particular. I look back at people like Fornasetti and how he covered everything in his crazy designs, and take great inspiration from his clarity of ideas and determination to experiment with his art onto anything and everything. I also love Marimekko and their story since the 60’s because their photoshoots of their fashion lines back then and in the 70’s are fantastic.
What’s your favourite material to work with and why?
Paper! Anything beautiful in paper excites me and makes me want to have it. The wallpapers have been brilliant to develop along with my stationery lines coming out soon! But I have made a name for myself in hard top tablemats and accessories, and I often see images applied to these in my mind as I work.
Where do you like to shop for quirky furniture pieces for your own home?
A mixture of places; I have my eye on a piece or two from the newly launched Jens Risom furniture at Rocket Gallery, produced by Bench. I have also bought from Russell Roberts on Cheshire Street; he has wonderful mid mod pieces, and is always displaying something wonderful in his window.
What advice would you give to aspiring interior designers?
Follow your own rules. There have been times during my career when I have been swayed by others, and this can lead you down the wrong path. You have to stay focused. It is your individuality that will make you successful; no one wants to see the same things churned out again and again, but by different people. Band-wagons are not always there to be jumped on.
How important do you believe UK manufacturing is to our economy and the environment?
UK manufacturing has so many benefits to the economy and bringing back craftsmanship and skills to our society gives a huge sense of independence, achievement and longevity. It means that skills can be passed on from generation to generation, giving us an invaluable legacy. Environmentally, we would definitely save on carbon footprints! But I would say that global manufacturing, on the whole, needs to consider the environment more seriously and sustainable methods need to be embraced.
Are there any designers that you would particularly like to collaborate with in the future?
I would love to collaborate with a designer or architect on something on a large scale; often I think surface design is pigeon holed and people don't relate it to 3D products or even buildings. It would be interesting to push these boundaries where the surface design influences the form and vice versa.
What new projects do you have on the horizon?
I am always developing new products - sometimes too many! My most recent projects include gift wrap, gift bags and stationery. A larger collection of stationery is something I really want to push, as well as a larger collection of wallpaper.
You can view all of Ella Doran’s designs at www.elladoran.co.uk.
Sit back and relax in this beautifully recovered chair from 20Age. £396
My love of 20th century furniture knows no bounds. When that elusive lottery win comes through (and it will) I will fill my home with the most beautiful 20th century chairs around.
And so it makes sense that top of my shopping list will be this stunning Berlin chair from those clever people at 20Age. Berlin is a miniature egg chair which has been covered in a stunning vintage Heal’s fabric and had its legs painted in a subtle grey paint.
Perfect as an office chair or an occasional piece for a hallway or living room, its rebirth at the hands of 20Age is simply divine.
However, if Berlin doesn’t float your boat, there’s sure to be one that does as the collection of revamped designs means there’ll be something for everyone.
So I suggest you grab your measuring tape, raid the piggy bank and invest.
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Award-winning surface designer Abigail Borg tells all.
Abigail Borg has taken the world of interiors by storm since graduating from Leeds College of Art in 2008 with a First in Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design. Picked out from thousands of graduates, she was named ‘New Designer of Year 2008’ and went on to set up on her own in January 2009. She’s continued to wow industry professionals and interiors obsessives alike with her beguiling floral prints, and was short-listed by Elle Decoration at the British Design Awards 2009. We caught up with Abigail to have a bit of a gossip.
How would you describe the Abigail Borg style?
All of my work begins with hours of hand drawing – an integral part of my style. I see it as a fading craft, and there is no comparison to a hand drawn illustration against something that has been knocked up in a few minutes on a computer screen.
I have then chosen to digitally print my wallpapers and fabrics, as I don’t have to compromise on colour or levels of details that I perhaps would if screen printing. If I could sum it up I’d say: ‘Hand drawn; Vintage Inspired; Contemporary.’
What’s your personal style at home?
I love going to car boots, charity shops and buying things off eBay, so there’s lots of knick-knacks: battered picture frames and prints, scuffed storage boxes and jars, old textiles, fabrics, and so on. I’d much rather buy an old chest of draws that’s been used constantly for 50 years, than a shiny, chip-free one. I also love being in the garden and spend lots of time planting and growing different flowers to photograph and draw, so there are lots of dried flowers about.
Your wallpapers and fabrics have a William Morris feel to them. What draws you to the Arts and Crafts movement and do you have any other favourite eras of interior design?
I love vintage design, particularly from the late Victorian period right up until the 1960’s – lots of patterns, hand drawing, colour and craftsmanship. I enjoy looking at styles from each period and incorporating them into my own style.
As an illustrator, are there particular artists that have influenced your work?
Designers such as CFA Voysey and Walter Crane, and companies such as F. Steiner & Co and the Calico Printers Association all influence me – I love the daring use of colour and the bold lines and pattern.
You have a very distinctive colour palette. How do you put together your colour schemes and what comes first – pattern or colour?
I generally hand draw and put together a pattern, and decide from there what sort of colour palette I’d like to incorporate. As always, I’ll look at archival patterns, as well as dipping into current colour trends to come up with something that has a good balance of the old and the new.
Why do you think florals work so well in interior design?
Florals have played a major part in interior design and decoration for centuries, starting off as tapestries, mural paintings and textiles, moving into the high fashion, modern settings of today. I think it’s because of this that floral patterns never date and will always work well in an interior setting. Wallpapers designed by Morris and Voysey during the late 1800s could easily be applied to a room today and not look out of place. I think the basis of good design is being able to apply a product into a setting from any era and it still looking bang up to date.
How is new technology and traditional handcraft combined in your work? What is the aesthetic result of this approach?
I love to hand draw as the level of detail and the slight imperfections are so much nicer to see that a perfected and pruned computer file. I experimented with screen printing a lot whilst at art school, and found that I had to alter the detail and reduce the amount of colours. From then on I started digitally printing, as this allowed me to have as much detail and colour as I like, resulting in designs that had both bold colours and intricate, contemporary patterns.
As well as producing your wallpaper and fabric collections, you work with clients on bespoke commissions. What has been your favourite project?
I love working on all commissions as each one is a new challenge, and no matter what the end product is you learn so much along the way. I really liked working with Johnson & Johnson on illustrations for some of their products. It’s nice to work on a brief together with an art director – and to think my drawings are in hundreds of bathroom cabinets makes me smile.
What’s your favourite high-street and high-end home furnishing brand/store?
Topshop! It’s affordable, with higher end pieces if you’re wanting to splash out, as well as having a bit of vintage in there.
And Liberty – there’s so much in there and every time I visit there’s always something new to look at. Plus the tea room is nice for a little sit down.
What’s been your best interiors bargain?
This isn’t so much a bargain, but salvage. My parents were cleaning out the loft of their house a few years ago, and on the ‘take to the tip’ pile was a shiny brown object. When I had a look it was a Guzzini mushroom ceiling light, which had been left there by the previous owner. They were going to throw it away as it was ‘ugly and dated’, so I immediately claimed it as my own!
Which three objects would you save if your house was on fire?
The Singer 3004; my mom bought it 27 years ago and it’s the best sewing machine I’ve ever used. A box I keep lots of photos, cards, notes etc in from friends and lastly my collection of design books, journals, bibles which I’d hate to lose.
What do think will be the next big trends in interiors?
From a wallpaper point of view, perhaps some new finishes or printing methods with larger scale patterns, particularly florals.
What’s next for Abigail Borg?
I’ll be moving into a studio space by the end of the year, with new products and lines in the new year. I’ll also be releasing a series of letter pressed Christmas cards in the next few months, as well as working on commissions for interior fabrics.
Find out more and buy online at www.abigailborg.com.
Find a new way to enjoy your afternoon cuppa with these corrugated mugs from Adra. £12
Perusing my mug collection the other day, I found that while it’s a pleasing assortment of all the right kinds (the ubiquitous Pantone and Penguin Classics feature heavily) nothing really matches.
Not that it worries me a great deal but I thought it might be quite nice to have a matching set.
My online travels took me in the direction of Adra, a delightful interiors website based in Wales, which is where I found these corrugated mugs by Tom Gloster. Designed to look like corrugated cardboard, I love the lines and chunkiness of these tea-drinking vessels.
Available in four different colours and of generous size, these are perfect for adding a splash of colour to your kitchen and of course for drinking out of!
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We shine the spotlight on The French Bedroom Company and uncover their elegant designs.
This week we’re saying ‘Oh là là’ as we discover sassy designs that you won’t find anywhere else. Read on as we uncover the chic and feminine style of The French Bedroom’s collection.
Online boutique, The French Bedroom Company, was created in May 2006 by Georgia Metcalfe after she realised that there was a gap in the market for elegant and affordable French style furniture. The company’s aim is to find adorable, unique furnishings that they can share with people who want to bring some glamour to their homes.
The French Bedroom Company’s collection is an array of bedroom furniture and linen, seating, storage, tables, lighting, mirrors and screens. With its beautifully curved mahogany and cane head and footboards, it’s little wonder the Lit Lit bed is one of the company’s hero products. Available in angelic white or glamorous gold, the bed is guaranteed to be the star of any boudoir.
The Provencal 3-drawer chest is part of a collection which includes products that are carved from mahogany and inspired by classic French provincial elegance. The chest is hand-finished in antique white which gives it a modest beauty. It would fit perfectly in a country-inspired home because it gives a rustic and a charming appeal; combined with the Madeleine chandelier and you’ll add instant chateau chic to your room.
To give a bedroom a traditional and opulent feel, the antiqued gilt mahogany of the Versailles 2-drawer bedside table would be an ideal furniture piece. The distinctive cabriole legs and subtle hand carvings in the wood represent the ornate style associated with the Louis XV period. The Versailles collection also boasts an adorable petit bedroom chair, a damask stool, and a stunning mirror-fronted armoire.
My favourite piece is the Octavia mirror which stands grandly on the floor, or can be mounted on a wall in a majestic hallway or bedroom. It has an egg-and-dart style frame surround which was commonly used in eighteenth century neoclassical design. The bold detailed carved emblem is an additional embellishment, and the jet black colour of the mirror brings a modern twist to such a refined piece.
One of The French Bedroom Company’s newest products is the white cowhide which is made from organic British cows; the cowhides are tanned in the UK which ensures that there’s a low carbon footprint. Its pure white colour gives it an extremely high-shine coat, and with thick skin and fluffy hair it means that it will last twice as long as a standard hide.
We are excited to hear that The French Bedroom Company’s 2011 brochure will be launched next month. And why not take a peek inside their showroom at Apsley House, based in West Sussex, to discover the eight beautifully decorated rooms featuring their products.
The French Bedroom Company’s products are available on furnish.co.uk so why not take a look...