That's Clever!

Spotlight on: Carmen Almon

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.

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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.

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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.

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Stunning Bespoke Embroidery Art

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.

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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.

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Using a Professional Photographer

We’ve recently shot our latest project with a super talented interiors photographer Anna Stathaki.  One of the most satisfying parts of finishing a project is getting it professionally photographed and sending out the glossy snaps to the press and public. The lovely comments start rolling in and you forget about all the dust and hours you spent arguing with building control.

Doing a professional photoshoot can be a long and arduous task, and pre planning is key. Photographers aren’t cheap, so you’ll want to have a very good idea of what shots you can get yourself (if you’re any good – be honest!) and which ones only a very skilled snapper can capture. Our Knightsbridge project was full of mirrors and reflective surfaces, so we made the most of Anna’s expert lenses and photoshopping skills to remove the image of the camera from all the images. There are  couple of things to remember when booking a photo day:

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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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Basecamp and The Art of Project Management

All our projects are run through a web-based interior design project-management tool called Basecamp. This is our one-stop-shop for everything to do with your interior design project. It makes a quick and easy reference tool for all parties who are involved in any part of the design or construction of your beautiful home.

The main menu is broken down into the following parts

1) Latest Project Updates

Here you see a brief overview of the most recent activity within the project, with the author and time clearly labelled and a link to the specific post. This, combined with the ‘Events’ tab will keep you fully up to date with how the design is progressing. The Events tab can be accessed via the right-hand-side button.Upcoming events and important dates are also noted here. Clients, contractors, suppliers can all see the schedule and add to the list at any time. It’s your own personal calendar and all dates pertaining to the project will be there, including when you, or your designer may be out of the country. This can be handily synced to a Google or iCalendar.

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Interior Design in London

Storage Solutions

There are certain challenges the Interior Design in London brings you.  Even in the most luxurious of houses space is usually an issue which means that storage is also an issue.  Most of our projects tend to be in London so we get very good at building in storage that is both pretty and functional

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This looks like your typical cloakroom however, those cupboards underneath the sink are actually housing a washing machine and dryer.  We designed the room so that all the doors can also come off easily so that both the washing machine and tumble dryer can easily pull out (avoiding the toilet nicely) for ease of maintenance.  The sink was also specially thought about, we wanted something that didn’t look too small on the vast work top so we picked a sink design that was low line but very wide so that the proportions worked perfectly.  We used the same measurements for the mirror above the sink and used wall lights so give the room beautiful light.  The cupboard above the toilet holds all the usual items you would need in both a cloakroom as well as everything needed for the laundry but is all nicely hidden away.

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Lightweight, snowflower lamp

It is unusual to find a pendant which can be used in a number of places to equally good affect.  With that in mind, check out the diversity of the snowflower lamp:

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Truly diverse and I am sure the horses would love it!

Credit: Freshome

Daring hotel in Vienna

Within cities, there are always a number of hotels popping up left, right, and center.  A lot of the time they are built on relatively small sites and need to be extremely unique and eye-catching if they are to gain any real traction.  This hotel in Vienna succeeds on both counts:

The sleek, curvy design stands out in contrast to the surrounding architecture, but somehow manages to fit in seamlessly.  The curved nature of the hotel also works nicely within the interior:

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Item of the day: John Houshmand Coffee Table

There are times when you see an item and it quite wonderfully brings together two very different dynamics.  Traditionally, coffee tables were made of wood and people did not much question whether this was the optimum material for such a piece of furniture.  Moving on in history, we started to see far more glass coffee tables which ranged from super-sleek to appallingly naff, but I believe this item takes the best of both worlds:

The imperfection of the wood mixed with the seamless nature of the glass is very eye-catching and something that I could very much imagine in a lobby (although it would also make significant waves in a large enough living room!)

Customised swing!

There is likely nothing that instantly transforms people into ‘big kids’ quicker than an indoor swing!  We have wanted to put an indoor swing into many projects but they are very much dependent upon having ceiling joists in convenient places (chance has been against us each time in this regard!).  However, if you are going to go for an indoor swing you have to get something really special (not just a plank attached to two pieces of rope!).  Perhaps something like this …

What I really like about this product is how you can customise the swing to fit in with your own personality.  The seat, for example, can be altered:

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Radiators Can Be Funky Too

Whenever you can add a bit of additional interest to a primarily functional item it adds a level of intrigue to any design.  This product by ‘The Radiator Company’ incorporates LED lights into the radiators acrylic cover:

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 Not only does this liven up what can otherwise be a relatively mundane item but it also provides a very useful secondary lighting which would be ideal for a late night visit to the kitchen!

Unique ceiling unit

Recently it seems that we have been forever searching for chandeliers and general ceiling lighting and, after a while, it can seem that you have seen it all.  Having said that, this piece really captured my imagination given the fact that I have seen nothing like it on the market (and certainly nothing as elegant in such a style):

 

 

For me it is the intricacy of the piece which stands out; such intricacy will no doubt provide a soft ambient light which, combined
with the sleek design, creates a fantastic overall impression.
Credit: Designer Lights

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