Friday, 27 February 2015

Tying the room together

As The Dude said, the rug “really tied the room together.”  Fans of the Cohen brothers will of course recognise the significance of floor finishes in helping to create a coherent room design and appreciate it’s importance to the lead character in the 1998 classic The Big Lebowski.  The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, had his rug stolen and was left, much to his annoyance, with a living room that felt incomplete.

A good rug can provide the finishing touch to a room design.  It’s an opportunity to inject some colour, either in harmony or contrast to the surroundings.  It provides a centre piece around which all the other elements co exist.  Often used alongside a harder timber floor it provides a soft warming contrast, which is great under bare feet, and will soften the acoustics of any space.

The trend towards graphic and experimental techniques is exemplified by the Radient Gradients range by Top Floor Rugs, which feature shading and colour graduation that gives the illusion of depth to flat surfaces.

Designed by award-winning rug designer Esti Barnes, who combines her design expertise with the skill of Top FloorΚΌ s master dyers and craftsmen, the designs perfectly demonstrate the smoothest of colour shading across the cut-pile wool surface.

If you need help tying your room together contact Multi Story Thinking and we'll show you how to make the most of rugs in your home.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Light fantastic

When you're looking for something to provide a dramatic and memorable impact within an interior , light features can deliver a cost effective and stylish solution.  There’s always something special about seeing multiples of objects and these pendant lights, set in clusters can great the dramatic wow factor sought after by designers and clients.  

These North Lights from e15 hang like the planets above your table casting light down onto the surface below and creating a subtle range of tones across the gently angled surfaces of the shades.

Prices start from £308 inc VAT for a single pendant; from Viaduct, T: 020 7278 8456

Friday, 2 January 2015

New teaching, new classroom. How space can help delivery of new teaching practices.

Devon and Cornwall Police Constabulary uses newly designed classrooms to help introduce their innovative teaching programme.

MULTI-STORY-THINKING have been working in partnership with Devon and Cornwall Police force to re design the training rooms for their Police Training College at their Middlemoor Headquarters in Exeter. 

The design of teaching spaces has long been recognised as having a positive impact on the learning experience.  Well-designed spaces can improve performance and transform the experience of the learner.

The college had been training both police officers and special constables for over 15 years and teaching methods and the teaching environment have changed little over that period.  Picture a drab and dull classroom with a horseshoe arrangement of desks led by a teacher at the front of the classroom.  It’s hardly inspiring and brings back memories of school days.

The initiative, which fuses teaching approach with changes to the physical space, was prompted by the introduction of extra targets of recruiting an additional 65 new recruits to the 120 already planned for 2013/14. 

To cope with the additional numbers the force’s Learning and Development Department have introduced a new open learning programme, which is similar in format to the Open University.

The importance of changing the physical environment alongside the teaching methods was recognised by Acting Sergeant Tiffany Macedo-Dine, from the Learning and Development team, who worked with us to realise the project.

“As well as changing our teaching approach we wanted to make a
statement with the space to signal a shift in approach.  We wanted a
more professional and grown up space that was modern, flexible and
responsive to the changing methods we were introducing”

A change of environment can trigger a shift in behaviour and expectations and underpin the changes by both enabling the different activities but also creating a change in perception of how the space will be used.

MULTI-STORY-THINKING worked collaboratively with Tiffany to develop the new design that enables the introduction of the more dynamic and responsive teaching methods, which embrace technology, encourage peer learning, improve interaction between tutor and student and create a more professional environment. 

The changes reflect wider trends in the education sector.  In creating the interior we sought inspiration from the revolutionary teaching spaces of the Stanford d. school but also from our recent projects for Plymouth University and ACCA.  The designs create a modern, professional, and more grown up interior with the flexibility to create the range of different teaching modes that will be used.

Selection of flexible furniture creates a ‘toolkit’, which enables a number of different teaching modes, both informal and formal, including presentations, group work and brainstorming/idea generation.  Teaching sessions can be dedicated to one activity or split to create multiple activities and students can move between areas as the nature of their learning changes.

The combination of interior design and new teaching methods is taking the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary forward in terms of technology, accessibility and the learning environment, putting them at the leading edge of police training in terms of innovation and best practice and excellence in learning delivery. 

Friday, 8 August 2014

Being prepared

We're working with the Topsham Sea Scout Group to help them redesign and rebuild their scout hut. Built in the early 1960s this timber hut is typical of scout huts across the country.  It's recently fallen fowl of its low lying position in relation to the River Exe and during the recent high tide and storms it was flooded with 2 feet of water causing irrevocable damage.

The hut is coming down and a new design is planned to take the scouts through for the next few decades.  It's a sad moment in a way but provides and opportunity to redesign the space to reflect the activities and the increasing numbers of Sea Scouts, Scouts, Beavers and Cubs who use the building on a weekly basis.

We're consulting with the local planning department and the environmental agency (we need to raise the building up about the flood risk) but most importantly we'll be talking to the scout leaders and the children that use the building to create a space that really works for the way they want to use it.

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.