Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Picture perfect

Digital printing has long been a way of introducing individual imagery to interiors and with production costs coming down it’s easy to introduce unique designs into your home.

Wallpaper, shower screens, kitchen backsplashes all become a canvas for your creativity helping to stamp your own personality and style.  Images from your phone or computer can be printed onto almost any surface.

Caroline Shortt from Barc Architects is a big fan of the process.  Her halo lit panel of trees transforms the humble toilet into a natural haven.  It feels a bit like the wardrobe in Narnia, where you might end up in an enchanted forest.  The vaulted room is clad in cedar and an led strip lights the paper and emphasises the curve of the vault drawing the eye to the back of the space.  

AnniePhilips’ innovative and uplifting images work well in kitchens and shower rooms.  Her designs are printed onto a film and laminated between panels of toughened glass.  

The composition can be adapted to fit the available space and the colours matched with the rest of your decoration giving you total control.  It’s a simple and effective way to create something different and individual.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Unlocking the potential of listed buildings

Old buildings need to adapt to accommodate our modern lives but when renovating listed buildings it’s important to preserve the historic character whilst maximising the potential of the spaces.  This involves discussions with both your client and the local authority conservation team to achieve design solutions that are practical whilst being sympathetic to the building. 

We’ve recently completed this refurbishment of a beautiful Georgian building in Salcombe Regis where our clients wanted to remove the kitchen from the main space, relocate it to the rear of the building, and open up access to join the spaces.

It’s often difficult to determine the history of adaption that most old buildings have gone through so getting to know the property is important.  Seemingly historic features can be younger than they look so understanding what is of real historic value (to be retained) and what can be altered is the key to unlocking potential.

The previous kitchen design ran round the perimeter of the room around a large farmhouse style kitchen table.  Not very practical in terms of layout and not ideal for entertaining where you might want to hide away the mess of a busy kitchen from your party guests.  



A series of more modern utility rooms provided space for the kitchen to be moved into.  Investigation of the layout and structure revealed a filled in opening, which previously provided access to a service corridor.  Reinstating this archway provided the link between the two spaces

Use of materials and colour help to make the most of the space.  Cornice, skirting and architraves are reinstated to match the originals and a new stone floor, running through from front to back, unifies the kitchen and dining area, which are decorated in a pale off white, which helps bounce light around the spaces.


A long table provides dining for 12 and there’s room for fireside seats with the alcoves providing space for a free standing dresser and a day bed.  It’s a multi-functional family room that looks like its been here for years.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Oh I do like to work beside the seaside

I'm sitting on a leather poof by a dark stained low table in The Harbour Works, the new 'flexible workspace' provided in Torquay by the Torbay Development Agency (TDA).  With sun streaming through the floor to ceiling Georgian windows and the sound of seagulls in the distance I feel like I'm on holiday. 

A working holiday perhaps as this place is geared up for 'people like me' to work remotely with drop in facilities, meeting rooms and a flexible open plan space.

The rooms, set on the first floor overlooking the harbour, are designed with a mix of Eames-esque classics, a soft palette of greys, cushions, rugs and natural oak flooring which creates a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere.  The style picks up on trends in office fit out and Third Space thinking, somewhere between home and office, it's a sanctuary away from the tourist masses.

The TDA is making lots of effort to create flexible work spaces across the region.  A sister site, The Sea Works in Brixham, provides similar drop in facilities whilst the more establish innovation centres provide office and conference space, all aimed at providing a range of cheap and flexible options for local businesses of all sizes.

The club/coffee house like aesthetic is reminiscent of iconic spaces like Shoreditch House and Soho House in London.  The Harbour Works lacks a rooftop pool but with the sea literally metres away it's got the real think on its doorstep.  A galley kitchen including a bean to cup coffee machine provide the creature comforts.

With dedicated meeting and video conferencing rooms and the remaining open plan space there's flexibility to create different types of working spaces from individual desk and meeting tables to armchair working.

It operates on a membership basis where you can pay for day by day attendance or bulk buy packages, includes free wifi and a bookable mac, and best of all you have access to the TDA's business support services and networking opportunities throughout the year.

Ideal for the agile workers of today's economy or an alternative to your conventional office space.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Danish Box Sets.

With the return of Borgen to our screens and the approach of those long winter nights the prospect of curling up on the sofa to work through some quality drama is really appealing.  With the popularity of box sets we're posed with the problem of how to store them.

Montana is a system that gives you the freedom to create unique and personal designs for your home or office.  It's combination of 42 boxes in 4 depths available in 49 colours gives creative freedom and scope to create a truly unique design just for you.

Wall mounted, free standing or on wheels the combinations can help to fill corners, become features or help to shape space as a wall/divider.   Keep it straight and regular or go free style.  Ideal for everything.

If you're working your way through those great Scandinavian dramas this furniture will help you emulate the style and give you somewhere to store those DVDs.

Available from Oskar in Bristol.  TAK.

Thursday, 24 October 2013


From a Telegraph Property tweet Marianne Shillingford, paint brand Dulux's creative director and the design director of Dulux Design Service, demonstrates  in this video  how to paint a room with horizontal stripes, using paints from Dulux’s autumn 2013 palette, Urban Folk.  

Friday, 18 October 2013

Student accommodation. Just add personality and a sense of place.

University campuses should be designed to attract their target market, that's students in case you wondered, but in many cases we see design solutions that are dull, corporate office style interiors, lacking any personality or sense of place.  No fun or narrative.  They miss the point that their target market are all young people with sophisticated tastes and a well developed sense of design and brand.

Universities administrators have recognised that environment is important as a differentiator and are trying to improve with new buildings and facilities.  The key challenges is to create spaces within their buildings that respond to the activities (social and learning) that students do and to connect both visually and emotionally.

Social spaces should reflect the environments that students like to inhabit when they venture out into non university world.  Outside of university they are going to bars, coffee shops etc that have well designed interiors aimed at them as consumers.  University spaces should similarly reflect this with interiors that are similar to the environments that students inhabit.

Award winning Trof bar in Manchester's Northern Quarter, designed by Forster Inc,  is a favourite haunt of students and young creatives alike, a provides a example for student developments.
Student accommodation is an obvious area for universities to invest in as it ticks the key drivers of the student decision making process of 'safety' and 'security' particularly for overseas students.  It's also a strong and dependable revenue source for universities.  Naomi Cleaver's design for IQ Shoreditch developed by Quintain celebrates the creative vibrancy of it's location and creates an individual and exciting space to live and study.

The design puts the student experience at the centre of the project and has become a selling feature that encourages sales to prospective students.

With student expectations being raised on the back on increasing fees good interior design can be a powerful tools for Universities to differentiate themselves and complete for business.

86% of students asked stated that the quality of the common rooms was the
deciding factor in booking IQ Shoreditch against all other alternatives.
Naomi Cleaver's designs add personality and a sense of fun.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Why do we like Scandinavian dramas?

Apart from the edge of your seat drama, political intrigue, engaging narrative and lyrical language the crop of Scandinavian dramas have one striking thing in common, that is, the use of modern design. Every set has been carefully crafted to reflect a modern lifestyle with well designed modern products and interiors.   Whilst the UK is locked in fuddy duddy chintz and tweed wrapped nostalgia (Downton Abbey-Series 4 is back!!!!) the Scandinavians are highlighting a modern world where we can surround ourselves with well designed products and spaces.

So where do we get the look.  You're maybe instinctively thinking IKEA, which has been a staple for start up home makers and budget conscious design cognoscenti.  We like what they offer and know lots of the short cuts through their maze like shop floor but for things that will last a lifetime we'd recommend a visit to one of the following.

The grand daddy of them all the first Skandium store opened in 1999 at 72 Wigmore Street, London W1.  Founded by Christopher Seidenfaden, Chrystina Schmidt and Magnus Englund the shop stocks a wide range of exclusive products from Artek, Arabia, Asplund, Design House Stockholm, Hackman, Havi, iittala, Jonathan Adler, Le Klint, linea1, Marimekko, Rosendahl AJ clocks and Woodnotes.

Situated on Whiteladies Road,  Bristol, Oskar has the best of Scandinavian furniture, lighting and accessories including products from Hay, the Montana storage system and lighting from Zero.  It's run by passionate and knowledgable Marie Harz who skilfully mixes Scandinavian design with the pick of the best from the rest of Europe.

Nestled in the design quarter of Ledbury Hus & Hem, that's house and home in Swedish by the way, is run by Jill Studer and Louise Little and stocks accessories, soft furnishing as well as furniture and lighting for the home.

Located in Bridge Street, Cambridge Nord brings design classics from Marimekko, Iittalia and Artek alongside a cafe serving locally produced cakes and traditional Scandinavian rye rolls and platters.