Features: June '11
Furnish visits the London Glassworks for tea with Rothschild & Bickers
On an unassuming industrial estate in North London something quite magical is afoot. Unit 15 houses one of the last glassworks in the UK, and is home to Rothschild & Bickers. Known for their sophisticated and opulent glass lighting, Victoria Rothschild and Mark Bickers invited us in for mug of tea and a snoop around. After sharing a studio at the Royal College of Art and working together on bespoke commissions, the pair decided to create their own range of signature pieces. Produced in batches, each shade is skilfully free blown and hand-finished. ‘Everything we do is hand-made’, says Vicki. Moulds are used to shape the surface of the molten glass, which is then blown out and modelled to create the form. The process is almost hypnotic to watch, and Mark underlines the level of concentration needed to get it right: ‘you have to keep focussed, and you can’t just stop half-way through; because the glass won’t’.
A lot of experimentation goes into the design process and a love of making as well as a respect for their material shines through on our visit. ‘We could never be paper-based designers’, says Mark: ‘it’s not that we render something on the computer and send it off to be made into a mould; we tweak, we edit as we go along.’ ‘We blow something we like the shape of’, says Vicki, ‘and then we’ll re-make it and change it a little bit. That’s what I love about the hand-made part of it. Being able to have the thing in front of you and knock another one out if you don’t like the first.’ Once the final form is decided, ‘you’ve then got the challenge of being able to reproduce it in batches by hand’.
Many of the designs are worked up with a particular interior in mind. The clean lines of the architectural Tiered Light would complement an elegant Art Deco style interior for example. Yet, while the lights often reference historical styles – the Tassel Light evoking Victorian grandeur or the Arts & Crafts style Flora Pendant – they’re never slavish imitations. ‘We’re always quite subtle about how we take elements from the past, whether it’s the fringing or the metalwork, they’re always touches’, says Mark. Likewise, while they might be designed towards a particular style of interior, the lights stand alone as decorative objects and could be put almost anywhere, says Mark, ‘either complementing or contrasting with what else is going on’. It’s the effect of the material as much as the form that contributes to the lights’ decorative appeal. ‘A lot of ours cast either colour or pattern’, says Mark, ‘so the effect is much bigger than the pendant itself’.
The heritage of glassblowing in England and the traditional skills involved in handmade glass production are central to Rothschild & Bickers’ work. ‘We’re using skills that might otherwise be lost’ says Vicki. ‘We did a lot of research on different shapes and forms and how people made things’. The moulds used for the different surface finishes and the techniques of blowing and finishing would have been the same in Victorian factories. It’s looking back at these older manufacturing methods that contributes to Rothschild & Bickers distinctive style and that Vicki sees as helping to set their work apart from modern mass-produced glassware. It’s a labour intensive process that results in astonishingly beautiful pieces with all the natural variation that marks them as handmade.
Rothschild & Bickers will be showcasing some new pieces at 100% Design in September and a bigger website is due to be launched within the next year. To find out more and order online, visit rothschildbickers.com. And if you fancy having a go at glassblowing, the London Glassworks offers one-day courses.
A rich history and unisex appeal; this week we focus on paisley.
There’s something about paisley; that botanical teardrop-shaped design is instantly recognisable. The whole pattern is infused with a rich history, from ancient Persia to dapper British gents, lending it a familiar yet mysterious appeal. Whilst it is often found on silk scarves and ties, don’t let paisley be confined to attire. This classic print is popping up everywhere and makes a pretty addition to any home.
Paisley can be found in both woven and printed forms, so there is plenty of choice when it comes to fabric. Liberty has a fantastic collection of paisley fabrics to choose from, such as the more traditional, archive Bourton print, which was produced on dress fabrics in the 1960s. Alternatively try Liberty’s Mark print, a vibrant contemporary take on paisley, which is perfect for introducing the pattern into a relaxed living room or children’s bedroom.
OKA stocks a range of products in a beautiful Indian-inspired wool paisley fabric available in Peacock Blue and Rust Red. The subtler blue version is available as an elegant set of cotton-lined curtains, making it super simple to bring a hint paisley into a drawing room or bedroom. For a flexible, folky take on the pattern, throw OKA’s Reversible Paisley Throw over a solid coloured sofa or armchair.
Paisley risks looking a little too psychedelic on large pieces of furniture, so take inspiration from this stunning Horchow Paisley Settee and have a loveseat or armchair upholstered in a bold paisley print for a contemporary interpretation of the paisley pattern.
The historical characteristics of paisley are offset by clean, modern lines in this one-off Paisley Armchair from Lockwood Design. Upholstered with glamorous woven gold paisley fabric on tubular steel legs, it would look fantastic in a contemporary bedroom.
Avoid the hotel lobby feel by steering clear of paisley patterned carpets, instead try layering pre-existing neutral carpets or floorboards with a contemporary paisley rug. We love the bold colours of this Paul Smith Paisley Aubergine Rug, which is made to order.
For a softer mix of colour, try this Brink and Campman Kodari Paisley Rug. Hand knotted in Nepal it is available in 5 rectangular sizes or alternatively can be created to a custom size, making it ideal for awkward sized spaces.
Like most bold patterns, paisley wallcoverings are best confined to smaller spaces such as alcoves or feature walls. However we love the unexpected visual impact of ceilings wallpapered with paisley. Whilst it’s a bold move, this is a great way to introduce pattern to wall space and perfect for achieving more proportion in high ceilinged rooms. Just ensure you choose wall paper with a pale coloured base to avoid making your space feel heavy.
We love the use of paisley in the Off the Wall Paisley Flower vase and bowl collection from Designed in England. Making a refreshing change from polka dotted or striped tableware, the collection was designed to celebrate the wallcoverings of Cole & Son and the use of oranges and browns gives the whole collection a delightful retro appeal. Shortlisted for the Homes and Gardens award, each piece is part of a limited collection of just 250 units per style – so be quick!
Sofas and beds look fantastic scattered with a coordinating mixture of solid coloured and paisley cushions; we love this Cream & Taupe Paisley Cushion from Primrose & Plum. Embroidered with taupe stitching and silver beading with a fluffy feather pad, this cushion is a luxurious take on paisley.
These cute set of 4 Fairtrade Paisley Boxes from Plumo are perfect as gift boxes or to store knick knacks and jewellery. With embroidered lids and opulent jewel colours they lend an exotic, well-travelled look to your dressing table.
So whether you want traditional and masculine or opulent and exotic, paisley could be just the thing.
Achieve modern opulence with our guide to making damask work in your home
Damask fabric was named after Syria’s capital, Damascus, where it originated in the early middle ages. However by the fourteenth century damask had spread across Western Europe and became synonymous with luxury though its popularity in the royal courts of Europe. Since then damask has been reinterpreted into all kinds of linens, furniture and even wallpaper, making it an easy way to bring a touch of opulence to your home.
Traditionally a woven fabric, it’s not hard to find damask fabrics in all incarnations around the home. John Lewis stocks a beautifully tactile Veneto Damask Fabric that is suitable for curtains, bedcovers and upholstery. Available in a range of colours, we think the Citrine option is perfect to lend a zesty and modern twist to traditional damask.
Alternatively, try transforming your bedroom with a damask duvet cover. This Damask Jacquard bed linen from John Lewis features a weave of leaves, scrolls and flowers in muted brown tones making it a tranquil and understated option. Better still the cotton is fully organic and certified in accordance with international Fairtrade standards, so you can rest even easier.
Furniture upholstered with damask fabrics offers a very regal feel to the room, but can sometimes feel a bit formal. Avoid this by introducing one bold damask upholstered piece alongside plainer, solid colours. Make an impact in an otherwise pared down room with this Gold Gilt Damask Nursing Armchair from The Orchard. Offset the opulent greens and golds with muted neutrals for a more contemporary feel in a living room or bedroom.
Alternatively this Versailles Foot End from The French Bedroom Company, upholstered in a French silk damask, is an elegant yet useful piece. Try positioning it at the foot of the bed or under a window as somewhere stylish to sit when dressing in the morning.
The floor is the perfect place to start when introducing damask to your home. Try a doormat rejuvenated in a bold damask prints such as this coconut fibre Black & White damask Print Doormat from Mollie & Fred.
For greater impact, a large damask print rug looks striking against plain wood floorboards. The rich plum colours of this large, wool rich Damask Rug from Habitat would lend an opulent feel to any living space.
There are a whole host of options when it comes to damask wallpaper but some designs can sometimes feel a little imposing and formal. Instead try a contemporary twist on the traditional for a fresh and quirky appeal. The Barneby Gates Deer Damask Wallpaper from Rockett St George, blends a vibrant duck egg blue background with an antique gold stag skull and thistle damask style pattern.
For a smaller wall space, such as an alcove or chimney breast try this Ribbon Damask Paper Lace-Embossed Vinyl Wallcovering from Occa Home. Created in collaboration with Timorous Beasties, the wallcovering is inspired by vintage 1920’s cotton lace fabric, combining two patterns in one.
For an opulent finishing touch in your home, or just a simple way to introduce the pattern try adding some damask accessories. The Dizzy Lamp Damask from Decolight features a modern trumpet shaped lamp base with a hand-made black silk damask shade. For an even more contemporary take on the damask pattern, try the inntermost acid damask shade from A White Room. Designed by Timorous Beasties, the shade features a pink/red interior, meaning the white cotton outer diffuses the damask print giving it a thoroughly fresh appeal. The lampshade is also highly versatile as the three available sizes can be hung as a pendant or mounted on lamp bases.
Table linens are true to the roots of damask fabric as a luxurious weave and are certain to add glamour to any place setting. The Deco Damask Napkin from John Lewis feature a classic damask design and are a perfect accompaniment to crisp linens and sparkling tableware. Soft furnishings are also a fantastic way to introduce the pattern. Add a little luxury and colour to the bathroom with the Lime/Steel Monaco Damask Towels from John Lewis. Alternatively scatter the sofa with damask cushions, such as the Osborne & Little Radnor Damask Cushion from Heal’s, which is made from pure silk in a vibrant purple pattern.
Damask patterns needn’t be limited to their traditional capacity; they can provide a sumptuous feel to just about any contemporary space. What’s more there so many ways to introduce damask, whether wallpapering a feature wall or opting for something less permanent, such as bed linen, there is an option for just about all tastes and budgets. So, don’t be afraid to bring this beautiful pattern into your home!
Keep your kitchen clutter free with our pick of the best storage jars around
Everyone knows it’s important to be tidy in the kitchen; whether you’re a semi-pro cook or just someone who needs to keep their tea and coffee in check, we’ve put together our pick of the best storage jars.
From classic white and vintage polka dots to retro patterns guaranteed to give your kitchen a touch of swinging 60s style, there really is something for everyone.
Use them to store everything from tea and coffee to flour and pasta to make sure your kitchen remains clutter free and everything is close at hand.
From top: Alessi Gianni Storage Jar, £10.50, Utility; Retro Storage Container, £12.50, Soulful Toaster; Cammeo Jar, from £15, 95% Danish; Ceramic Round Storage Jar, £10, Occa Home; Small Domestic Goddess Storage Jar, £14.95; Orla Kiely Multi Stem Small Storage Jar, £20, Utility
Check out our selection of the best wine racks around
Unless you live in a mansion and have room for a wine cellar, you’re going to need a good quality wine rack. Personally, a bottle of wine rarely lasts long enough to get it in one at Furnish HQ but if you’re more restrained than us, we’ve put together a selection of the best around.
From wall-mounted sleek and FSC wood designs to a quirky cactus design to give your dining room a touch of the Wild West, we’ve got it all.
Now all you need is a decent bottle or six of plonk, a couple of wine glasses and a corkscrew and you can start the weekend countdown.
From top: Wall Mounted Wine Rack, £20, Utility; Cork Wine Rack, £35, Habitat; FSC Wooden Wine Rack, £95, John Lewis; Cactus Wine Rack by J-Me, £86, Pelican Pear; Stack Em Up Wine Rack, £95, Sweetpea & Willow; Umbra Grape Vine Wine Rack, £20, Red Candy