Art is a very emotive topic. We are all moved by different pieces of art and we all have a very unique appreciation of it here at Kia Designs. This piece I stumbled across spoke to me personally. I could see it working well in lots of different schemes. It’s soft colours are soothing. The layering of the piece provides a lot of depth. These pieces seem particularly peaceful yet still vibrant and appealing. I was instantly drawn to them as an interesting conversation piece.
Good design is effortless, it hides the bad or frustrating parts of a home and highlights the parts that you have fallen in love with. Most homes struggle with storage, even the largest home needs good storage. With these images we take you behind the design to the hidden parts of the image, the parts that make the designs look so effortless.
From hidden passages, secret rooms and electronic opening cupboards we adore creating something a little bit special and different for each and every one of our clients
Here, in our Chelsea project, to avoid an entrance hall becoming awash with doors we make the entrance to the utility and sports store a secret swinging bookcase. The case in hung on metal casters, so it’s also a functioning bookcase, not a fake. The mechanism is soft closing and super easy to open. Hopefully this makes doing the laundry a little more enjoyable!
There are 2 good investments I keep my eye out for. 1, short term, is to find the darkest period houses. The Georgian gems and Victorian terraces that give you eye strain almost the moment you enter. The other is long term: find nice country houses with stunning views blighted by power lines and towers. They’ll bury them eventually. I hope.
Nearly everyone sights ‘lots of natural light’ as a key requirement of a new home. Georgian homes are popular purely because they have high ceilings which house large windows and let light flooding in. Because we have built up and around, many of these buildings core have become very dark and dingy. The stairwells aren’t large enough for a skylight to flood light down, and the can be listed, so including a light shaft or well all the way down can be problematic.
American Artist Carmen Almon makes the most exquisite hyper-real botanical structures. And far from being delicate models, her pieces are made from sturdy and durable wire and copper, fashioned into the most meticulous detail. Artificial flowers have gained popularity in recent years, as technological advances make them more realistic and affordable, but Almon’s creations are works of art and make for a far more interesting centrepiece.
Originally inspired by the 18th Century collages of Mary Delany (on display in the British Museum), Almon began cutting sheets of copper into petals and soldering them together with brass fill to make them slightly raised 3D sculptures of flowers and plants. She then painted them with enamel and oil washes and the result was an instant hit.
Now living in France with her Sculptor husband Thierry Job, Almon hand crafts up to 4 plants a month, using nail scissors, pliers, cutters and paint. Recently she has begun adding a distinctive finishing touch to each plant – usually something like a ladybird or bug, hidden away. She says this helps to ‘fix the moment in time’, in the way a photo would. Given the intensive labour involved in each creation, expect to see prices from £1200 – 35,000. Almon usually works to commission for private collectors although she does display at a few galleries, such as the Chinese Porcelain Company in New York and the Octavia Gallery in New Orleans.
Clients always want more storage, and London housing always seems to be lacking in it. Here are some quick, cheap and easy solutions to add storage space to your home without gauging out under your stairs or ‘knocking through’.
Try a hanging cloak rack if you are short on floor space
Floating racks hanging from the ceiling can accommodate all manor of coats, bags, scarves. You can load them up and then swing them aside when you want to move past. If you have very high ceilings you can even sit them on a pulley system and whisk them up and out of the way. You can also use them in places that don’t have a wall, or have wall that can’t support weight. They are also great for hanging close to baths and showers, in the bedroom to display accessories, or even in the kitchen hanging over the counter for tea towels and oven gloves. We particularly like the one from Copenhanger which comes in 3 colours and retails at a reasonable £170.
If that looks a little too rustic then you could try The Wardrope, designed by Veronika Wildgruber and Susanne Stofer, which uses porcelain hooks mounted on a rope, which can be adjusted by sliding them, and you can add as many as needed. The Wardrope screws into the ceiling (or can be hung from another hook) and you can chose to have a weight at the bottom of the rope to keep it under tension, if you’d rather it were tethered.
We’re often asked about our design process, and how best to display and present your Interior Design to our clients. We’ve already blogged about why we don’t use 3D visualisations so let’s talk about what we actually do.
Having spoken to the client and established what they need and want to get out of the process, and having seen a selection of images they like and established a sense of their taste and lifestyle, work beings on creating a scheme. Functionality comes first – there are set requirements to fill and problems to solve. Then we look at decorating and filing the space appropriately. We have an extensive portfolio of suppliers we work with often, who we know to be reliable, excellent quality, deliver on time and on price and suit a variety of budgets. We also always attend trade fairs and have a list of new suppliers we are interested in forming relationships with. Where we research depends entirely on the client. At the moment we are looking for a client who wants items completely in keeping with their Victorian mansion, that look very English. We’re looking at vintage pieces from places like Christie’s Interiors auctions and at reputable antique dealers, but keeping the budget under control with other pieces from Coach House Antiques. In contrast,the design brief for another project we have calls for more glam, unique items, where the look and feel is the key determining factor, not budget, so we’ve spent more time on 1st Dibs, LuxDeco and the glossy showrooms of Chelsea Design Harbour.
When we’ve selected a few key items, the rest of the scheme comes together fairly fluently. The fabric and style of a sofa usually has an overbearing influence on everything else in the living room, for example, it will dictate the size and height of the coffee table and rug, so that will drastically narrow the field when you are searching products. We also use this time to push clients towards items they might not have considered or have previously dismissed. A current client said she liked the wooden venetian blinds currently in her flat and would like them replaced with something similar. When we asked why, she said that fabric blinds get too dirty (she is above a busy road) and plantation shutters cut out too much light, and she couldn’t think of any other options. We can, however, think of lots of other options, so it’s always worth understanding why your clients do and don’t want items in their new home. Sometimes the clients isn’t always right – “I don’t want a fabric sofa, I spill tea on it and can’t wash it” (ok, you spill tea – we’ll get you a fabric sofa where you can unzip every cushion and wash to your heart’s content).
So when we think we’ve come up with a suitable design scheme, we put together a presentation (slide show) and talk through our plans and the furnishings for each room. The client usually mulls it over for a few days and then often makes a few changes (sofa too low, wallpaper too blue) and then we make adjustments accordingly. We also give them a complete costing sheet. That also helps them make decisions about the design – “I’m not keen on those bedside tables and they are more than I’d like to spend on something I’m not sure about”. Below is a presentation we have just given to an actual client. We’ll post again after they have come back to us with the necessary amendments and we’ll show you how the design evolves.
Ever since Pinterest and Instagram have burst onto the scene, people have been more brave and experimental when it comes to pattern and colour. Bold pallets have been introduced to even the most suburban homes, and sales of magnolia have plummeted. The next frontier – multicolour and blended tones. Ombre is building momentum in the industry and offering clients a really interesting, bespoke looking design.
Ombre: having colors or tones that shade into each other —used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark
Harlequin’s Amazilia ombre velvet is just stunning. It comes in lots of colours and is very versatile. It’s a short cut velvet, and very soft and luxurious feeling. People often tell us they want a fabric that is “that colour” but not in velvet. Can’t be done. Velvet’s unique pile allows it to take on dye in a way most other fabrics can’t, so if you want a strong sharp colour, velvet is your best bet. It’s also one of the most durable fabrics available, and the newer ones are coated with nibbling bug deterrents so you don’t end up with moth holes.
New Designers, held every year in the Business Design Centre in Islington is a fantastic platform for up-and-coming talent. We go every year in search of fresh, innovative designs and emerging trends. This year we were particularly taken by the intricate work of Bristol based textile artist Jacky Puzey, whose digital embroidery and layers of laser-cut sheer fabrics create luxurious tableaus of urban wildlife.
Jacky does bespoke commissions and we are hoping to use one of her unique and stunning pieces in our upcoming Knightsbridge project. We particularly love the textures created by her stitched mixed media – she often incorporates feathers, fabrics, wallpapers, dried flowers and leathers. The hyena above uses goat fur and feathers. Jacky’s preferred base is a thick organza, traditionally used for kimonos, which is transparent and when framed gives a slight hint as to the surface behind the work, with visible shadows from the embroidery, creating an extra layer.
A Kia Designs living room. Our colour scheme was based around this stunning piece of fabric. To pull everything together we then had it stretched like a canvas and hung to add a focal point to the room.
Finding art to dress a room after you’ve completed the design can be one of the most pleasurable parts of finishing off your interior. You might want to hold out and look for it on your travels, or go browsing in in the glossy galleries around Mayfair (they sell prints too, so even if your budget doesn’t stretch to a Rothko canvas, you can pick up something like a Henry Moore print for around the £2000 mark. It’s be a great talking point and will be an excellent investment!). You could head to an auction house to see check out the offerings (after Christmas is always a good sale time) or you could look at online site such as Artfinder.com which displays 1000s of artists, with easy to use search functions to narrow down the hunt.
We’re often asked how we start a design. It’s a hard thing to answer as it’s really an intangible concept. After we’ve decided on the new layout, we start by asking the client a lot of questions, and getting a firm idea of what they don’t like and what they gravitate towards, as well as practical concerns (hardwearing, easy cleaning etc). Then we do a blitz of the major London showrooms for inspiration. We collect a few (we really try to limit these, as sampling for it’s own sake is a waste of everyone’s time and resources) samples and make note of features or furniture that would work. At first everything looks amazing and it can be overwhelming.
Home automation can be a fantastic proposition however it is often thought of as very costly. There are ways that, through the wonders of modern technology you can automate your home with out a large price tag and without a a re-wire. These small changes are secure, can save you move and easy to understand – you don’t need to know all the ins-and-outs of smart home tech to be able to start creating a home that caters to your lifestyle.
Hue lights to wake you up
Morning isn’t always everyone’s favourite time and so getting up can be a massive hassle. Especially when we get in to the winter where it can be pitch black when we wake up. The hue lights are fantastic at creating a comfortable way to wake up, they can slowly engage around your room according to your alarm. Providing a much more natural way to end your sleep, no more screeching alarm calls – wake up with sunshine (well, sort of!)
We-mo switch (alternative to hue lights)
The we-mo switches are another way to automate individual switches, like the grown up version of the timed lights our parents had these can be set to be on all kinds of timers. With IFTTT you could even arrange that the lights at home turn on when you walk through the front door. This can be good if you suffer from anxiety or if you work long hours and want that instant homely feeling.
Mydlink™ Home Smart Plug (alternative to hue lights)
Similar to we-mo switches these can be programmed in a variety of ways with your lights. IFTTT again provide a variety of different ways these can work with the Hue lights. Automate your home in a way that works for you, you don’t have to jump in right at the deep end.
We’re often visited at our office by sales reps who have come to show us their new wares and demonstrate their products. It’s great to see what’s in the pipeline before it hits any showroom, and it’s always good to have a library of innovative products in mind when listening to clients concerns.
A recent visit that most impressed us was Sylka Carpets. They are a multi award-winning carpet manufacturer that produces manmade fibre replicas, very accurately. The result is a super high quality product at a reasonable price (ok, they are closer to the top end, but far more affordable than the real thing), which is far more durable and easy to maintain than their natural counterparts. And we struggled to tell the difference. Think silk, cashmere of wool carpets without the wear (the fibre structure is incredibly hard wearing and won’t breakdown), without the pilling (as they are spun from single threads you won’t get any fluff) and impervious to most stains (the fibres aren’t porous, so unless you coat it in a painting substance, it shouldn’t hold any staining). So we’re talking a thick, white carpet you can pour red wine all over and leave no trace. And even better, if you do stain or damage it (a client dropped her red nail polish) instead of having to replace the whole room, you can simply cut around the damage segment and patch in a new piece, which will blend in seamlessly. For this reason, the company suggests buying a few extra meters, as the dyeing of each roll can be slightly different and this will guarantee you an invisible finish.
It’s trade show time again. This week we’ve been looking at new trends in tiles and at the various wares on show at Surface Design. The big emerging trends are more geometric shapes, lots of hand-painted effect tiles and imprinted porcelain. Whilst we never really go in for “trends”, as nothing dates a property faster, we do like keeping up with the latest in manufacturing techniques. As the trend for strong geometric styling continues, advances in technology means the interlocking mechanisms have become simpler, and the tile panels larger, meaning they will be far more affordable to ship and install. Just as we saw with parquet flooring and engineered wood, chevron tiles in pre-made blocks are also becoming very popular. It’s an easy way to achieve a luxury finish, either as a wood effect throughout the house or a more visually arresting way to arrange marble in a bathroom.
Patterned tiles have become a little more adventurous, through the introduction of varied tones in sophisticated pastels that have a more subtle effect and appeal to those who would normally shy away from anything too loud or detailed.
What goes around comes around, and (you might shudder to hear it) 1970s led designs are still continuing. Crazy pavement is back, but it’s had quite the make over. Coloured grout is also growing in popularity. Grey, white and coffee coloured tiles are particularly lifted with orange or teal grouting.
If a client is an art collector, or has a treasured piece, interior designers will often use that image as the main reference source or influence for a design. We’ve had several clients bring in pieces by M F Husain and they make fantastic inspiration. His free flowing lines, contemporary style and vibrant tones gives us lots to work with and often encourages clients to be a bit more bold and fearless when it comes to colour.
A colourful M F Husain piece provides the focual point of an elegant Mayfair sitting room
Religious rituals often feature
M F Husain is often referred to as the ‘Picasso of India’. He is the best know and most internationally recognised Indian painter of the 20th Century. Christies and Sotheby’s class him as a Modern Master and his work frequently sells in excess of £1m. His paintings usually depict religious themes mixed with history and incidents from the artist’s own life.
We are constantly designing new rugs (we even have a very exciting announcement regarding that coming soon) and every now and then you will get to design a rug that is not only stunning but that the client has been searching for without fully knowing it for years! This is that rug. Designed to evoke the gorgeous patterns of natural marble they have a stunning movement to them that leaves you tracing the veins of the design with your eyes (or if you are lucky enough, with your hand) Here you can see the beautiful almost icy tones that flow through the design
For me rugs are just a wonderfully creative process, a chance for me to really channel all my inspiration. We often use rugs to pull together all of the pieces of a design that need to be tightly woven in to it. I often liken a design to a piece of woven fabric, all the threads need to lap over criss crossing in and out of each other to create a tightly woven and intricate pattern. Design is exactly the same, all the design elements are perfectly balanced and each piece individually may not look like much however when they are all woven together by a professional the finished product is simply breath taking.