Why Stop at One Colour? Ombre is the New Black

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.


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The Fool Proof Carpet

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.

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New Tile Trends 2016

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 eIMG_3272merging 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.

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Porta Romana Dedication To Perfection

It costs how much?!!

A problem that Kia said she stumbles on quite often is clients being gobsmacked at the price of certain items that she pitches to them. Often they will have the reply ‘I’ve seen that for half the price in…. ‘ but what the clients are not aware of is the process which that item has undergone to justify such a high price tag. Lighting is often one of these products especially as Porta Romana have a dedication to perfection that justifies their price tag.

Porta Romana Gold Leaf

In progress application of gold leaf


At London Design Week 2015 at Chelsea Harbour there was a demonstration in Porta Romana as to the process, which was completed to produce one of their hand crafted mushroom mirrors.

Each mushroom mirror is individually cut in sections then given to a team of finishers to apply one of hundreds of different finishes.

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How Light Can Improve Your Health

After attending a talk at Eco Build 2015 ‘CPD: Lighting and health: What the research tells us’ I was inspired to look further into how the lighting systems that we install in homes and work places can be heavily affecting our quality of life and health without us even realizing it.


Florence Lam (lighting designer of the year 2013) who is an expert in lighting design for Arup introduced the relationship between light and physical and psychological factors. She highlighted that the key things people tend to look for in lighting is beauty, eco-friendliness and functionality. However people tend to disregard the health factors which should be tied under the functionality spec.


A basic human need is to have exposure to light. One of these reasons is to absorb vitamin D from sunlight, but also to enhance mood. Ensuring that you’ve had a good night sleep can enhance mood. The diurnal cycle (which is the pattern of sunlight that occurs daily due to the earth spinning on an axis) has a key part in allowing this to happen. The effect of this upon humans is called the circadian rhythm. The change in light colour and intensity has a huge effect upon our health. This is due to serotonin being converted into melatonin when the sun goes down, which allows people to sleep for longer.

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Products at Clerkenwell Design Week: Part 2

A lot of the time Interior Design can become very serious, overly so in fact, and it is necessary to lighten the mood with a more ‘fun’ product.  During Clerkenwell Design week we found some very cool lamps that are made out of action figures/toys – take a look:

The company in question (there is a link below) can make these out of one’s own childhood toys or can create a bespoke piece which fits your own specifications:

I am also impressed with, aside from the unique appeal of these pieces, the classy shade which would allow a piece like this to (cheekily) work in conjunction with more classy pieces:

Overall, I am very impressed and my start looking through my own toy box!

Credit: Evil Robot Designs

Products at Clerkenwell Design Week: Part 1

Unfortunately this year we were only able to manage 1 day at Clerkenwell Design Week due to a number of projects being at a rather critical stage.  Thankfully, the one day that we choose was sun-drenched which certainly adds to the appeal of wandering between stalls and exhibitions.  For one of our current clients we were looking for decorative items which could potentially sit above a fireplace.  Obviously items such as mirrors and paintings are always an option but, at Clerkenwell Design Week, we found a very interesting piece by Fay McCaul which is made up of stitched white fibre optics which we sent through to the client in question:

This idea has also been manifested in a sculpture form:

What I really like about this work is its unpredictable nature as well as the clever combination of stitching and fibre optic lights.  There is certainly a gap in the market with regard to decorative items (aside from traditionally used ones) that can be placed above fireplaces and items such as Fay’s are, as a result, very refreshing.

Credit: Fay McCaul


Where should we be? Surface Design Show Islington

So this is a nice easy one for me, with Islington beign my home I really don’t have to travel very far. However, this is a fantastic show to go to as it is very condensed – for me this is great, I am not one of those people who goes walking around shows for hours and hours on end.  I am in and out – I know what I like if I see it I go on the stand, get a brochure, have a chat about samples, timelines, prices and then move on.  This way I don’t end up with:

1. A whole bunch of beautifully put together brochures from companies that I am never going to use and will eventually end up in the recycling bin

2. Glassy eyes from trying to see too much, I only see the things that are relevant to me and my clients.

For these reason Surface is fantastic, it is basically all about surfaces (give away in the name, right?) So there are natural stone companies, tiles, metals, coatings – all of which can be used for flooring, cladding, ceilings, and wall coverings.

This year things to look out for are, the trend wall by Mix.  We don’t tend to stick to ‘trends’ in our designs however it is always great to see what is out there as the availability of products in certain colours is definitely affected by the trends.


I am looking forward to finding some new suppliers, and catching up with some old ones. Surface Design Show is on from the 7th to the 9th of February at the Business Design Centre Islington.


Where should we be? Toronto International Design Festival

Are we ready to stack up some air miles? Our previous two design shows have been Europe based, just a short train journey or flight away (hey you could have even spent 2 days in Cologne then jumped on a train down to Paris! How fantastic would that have been?!  Daydreaming aside we are now off to the very icy Toronto for one of North America’s largest international design festivals.  Starting on the 24th of January (today!)  and going on till the 30th there is a whole host of events across the city.

I love there description of the festival “Expand your mind and delve into things design-related at the Toronto International Design Festival produced by the Interior Design Show and presented by Rado and Audi.  From January 24th to 30th, venues around the city will host contemporary design events celebrating local and international design. This inspiring festival will feature lively debates and discussions, exhibits, symposiums and fairs.”

My favourite is definitely  The Gladstone Hotel’s Annual Alternative Design Event – it sounds fantastic sounds fantastic! It is comprised of room installations and public space projects that literally take over the Gladstone Gallery and other public spaces of the hotel, I just love the inventive use of space.

Come up to my room

Where should we be? Maison Et Objet!

In these dark day’s of winter any excuse to get away should be taken up with both hands, however Maison Et Objet is seriously in a league of it’s own!  From the 20th till the 24th January Maison Et Objet luxury companies from around the world will be showing their Spring-Summer 2012 collections.  Having been several times this really is a wonderful show….but be warned – it is HUGE! So whatever you do don’t get on the Eurostar at 5am and think that a pair of 3 inch heeled boots are ‘sensible’ footwear – trust me! This was the mistake I made one year and I was crippled by the end of the first day, I had to make a quick shopping (yay!) trip to find myself a fantastically comfortable (and extremely unfashionable) pair of shoes for my very sore feet!

Anyway enough about my mishaps in Paris, let’s get down to the gorgeousness that is this amazing show. Taking up eight (yes that is EIGHT!) halls at Paris Nord Villepinte, I would say you need at least 3 of the 5 days that it is open for to get through everything – however if you are clever you could definitely skip a few halls.


My favourite halls are… 5a and 5b (not to be missed!!) and hall 7 – to be honest they are all worth walk around but these are the ones that I think offer the most products that I would use in projects.

06 Maison Objet Crazy_Campana

Where should we be? imm cologne

So let’s kick off this new year with one of my New Year’s resolutions, we are going to be taking you around the world to all the major interior design shows (psst… if you think we have missed one please drop us a comment and we will be sure to do a round up!) With each show we will be doing a round up of what we love, insider tips (if we have been before) and places to visit whilst in the area!

First out of the gates this year is imm cologne (16th January to the 22nd of January) in Cologne-Bonn (quite close to where some of my clients who use to live in London are now living!),  having never been to this show unfortunately I can’t give a huge incite in to what parts are best but if you are exhibiting and want some of us to stop by just drop us a comment!

My first stop would have to be the Pure Village which is described as, “an interior design platform where design-oriented furniture joins forces with exclusive fixtures and fittings. It brings together forward-looking ideas and product solutions from all segments relevant to interior design.” – How great does that sound?  Still need to be sold? Check out the youtube video below!

I also love the idea of the ‘Das Haus’ – Interiors on stage, sounds intriguing. I wonder who will win the Interior Innovation Award – always so exciting to see and use products that are really innovative.

Another reminder: Imm Cologne is on from 16th January to the 22nd of January (although Living Kitchen did actually start 14th January)

First stop…London!

Okay so this first stop hasn’t meant I have needed to travel anywhere but it is going to be amazing ride none the less.  Next week is London Design Week at the wonderful Chelsea Harbour,  it is a great time to catch up with friends throughout the industry, snack on some gorgeous bites and drink free glasses of champagne – and whilst all this is happening you get to see some of the new collections from wonderful fabric houses such as Romo, Zimmer and Rohde, Sahco, Designers Guild, O&L and more…

Zinc Textile

We will be keeping you up to date next week with daily events through our twitter and will even be posting glorious photos as we go round and view each of the new collections. This year I am especially excited to see what Zinc (above) come up with as I love the glamourous look they have.  I am also extremely excited to be able to sit down and find the time to go through Zimmer and Rohde’s complete collection – I love this fabric house and their range of sheers are second to none!

Designers Guild

Also this up coming week is the Ideal Home Show, which starts today and we are giving away 2 ticket’s to the show here, the show has been going for over 100 years and is a great place to see what is on the consumer market at the moment.  As an interior designer it’s so important to know what is being pushed in the consumer market as well as what is hot within the trade – you need to know what’s out there!  Whether your client wants to buck the trends or is completely uninterested is what is ‘trendy’ at the moment it is always important to keep your knowledge up.


If you are in London please do leave us a comment as it would be great to meet up. Also be sure to enter our competition as you could also win ticket’s to the Ideal Home Show – which would really make the trip to London worth it!