Monthly Archives: February 2012

Radical Radiators!

Besides the recent cold snap we had here in the UK, it has actually been one of the warmest winters on record…again. Since the snow the temperature has been warm to put it mildly, or should that be mild to put it warmly? Either way it’s meant that I’ve turned the heating off at home and instead of huddling my back up to the radiator in the evening to soak up as much heat as possible, I sat facing it and realised that when they aren’t making me warm, I really don’t like radiators; the standard white corrugated metal slab does little to inspire me, and when they’re not hot,  they leave me a little cold.

So I set out to find some inspiring hot water filled containers that will not only warm a room with their heat but with their presence too.

For Heritage Interiors I found these gorgeous traditional cast iron radiators by The Traditional Radiator Company to be just the ticket. They obviously look great in a historic setting, but I can’t stop admiring them for their almost sci fi ‘Steam Punk’ styling’s.

For more modern designs I came across Bisque who do an extensive range of designer radiator’s that can blend in with any interior, often becoming a focal point themselves.

Reina do a great range of chrome and stainless steel radiators, including the rather wonderful ‘Pyramid’ complete with hieroglyphics.

Here’s a selection of striking tall radiators available through The Radiator Company. I especially like the one lit by LED strips, it reminds me of the Unknown Pleasures album cover by Joy Division.

If Industrial Chic is your thing then you could do worse than the Hose radiator by MHS Radiators.

For discreet heating the Lie Down Radiator by Eskimo Design provides a nice solution.

I’ve only just scratched the surface of alternative radiators, searching around I’ve found so many amazing ways to heat a building that it is clear that radiators must be a serious consideration during any Interior Design project. I know most of the products I’ve highlighted here are designer and hence quite expensive compared to a bog standard white metal slab, but there are still plenty of interesting affordable options available.  And if a budget really is tight or there simply is no way to replace an existing plain radiator, you could always paint it any colour other than white, or use stencils to add some interest and life to it.

Viva la radiator revolution!

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Spring Fair: fair enough?

It was too cold and snowy outside to be classed as a ‘Spring’ event in my books, however this years Spring Fair International held at Birmingham’s NEC was a bright and vibrant affair… a bit like Spring I guess?

If you have never been to the Spring Fair before, it is massive! All 20 of NEC’s halls were filled with vendors from all over the UK showcasing everything from home and garden furnishings to fancy dress costumes and greetings cards. After half an hour of wading through christmas decorations, valentines teddy’s and remote controlled helicopters I finally emerged in the Home interiors section where I found a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere.

At Interiors UK’s I found many traders were a bit ‘on edge’ and more interested in making business deals than chatting about their products, here I found I could chat away happily to people who were really passionate about what they were selling, here’s what I came across during my five-hour hike around the show.

Relatively new outfit This is Limited Edition produce Art prints, accessories, ceramics, cushions and furniture all manufactured in Britain and based on the work of an ever-expanding list of worldwide acclaimed artists and design studios.The variety of styles range from Street Art, Urban Art, Low-Brow, Illustration, digital art and more. As the name suggests each item is produced in limited numbers, so new designs are always coming out.

What I liked most were their hand-made chairs, they just like look so much fun!  Obviously they are not to everyone’s taste, but considering the huge fan base that these artists have and the collectible nature of their work, I think This is Limited Edition is onto a winner. Whilst not that popular in the UK yet, they have sold to lots of american celebrities, so as these pop up more and more in A-list ‘cribs’ I think we’ll be seeing more demand for furniture with this kind of unconventional upholstery.

Walking past Danish firm Au Maison’s stand I was instantly drawn to their collection of fabrics, cushions, curtains and rugs. Their textile designers are able to strike the right balance with their use of colours, prints, patterns and materials, avoiding that often sickly sweet ‘twee” style that seems so prevalent these days.

Readers of my Interiors UK reports will know of my appreciation for bean based floor seating, so I was glad to come across another British bean bag maker, Big Hug, who make a whole range of indoor /outdoor spongy seating options, ranging from the stool like Solo all the way up to the small bed sized Huddle.

Reproduction vintage, rustic and Industrial are still very popular styles, showing that a certain demographic continues to gravitate to products which evoke feelings of familiarity, security and optimistic nostalgia. Coach house, The Libra company and India Jane are prolific distributors of this type of product and all had large stands, but the one that stood out most to me was Libra who’s mid century and industrial furniture collections were quite striking. I got the impression that Libre were employing some bold designers who aren’t afraid to show a bit of grit.

A smaller manufacturer worth checking out is pr home who specialise in contemporary indoor and outdoor furniture. I found their designs stylish and modest. Everything looked so well made and could fit effortlessly fit in with so many settings.

Did anyone else make it to the Spring Fair? What caught your eye? Leave us a comment!

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Best of Interiors UK 2012 Part Two: Traditional Interiors

In Part One I highlighted modern interiors and cutting edge design that caught my eye at this year’s Interiors UK show, but not every home is a space age bubble of brightly coloured furniture and minimalistic straight edges. Most people in the UK live in houses that are around 100 years old; a testament to the quality materials and craftsmanship employed back then.

But as building modern houses became more of an exercise in cutting costs and Ikea mega stores firmly rooted themselves in every major city – the demand for high quality hand crafted interiors may have faded a little, but this years Interiors UK proved to me that true British craftsmanship is far from dead.

Bylaw the Furniture Makers had a fantastic stand that recreated a very traditional dining room, bedroom and study complete with hand made tables, chairs, side units and four poster beds that would look at home at an antique fair. What really set the stand off was the incredible wall panelling, including faux book shelf/secret door. It really was like being on an episode of Downton Abbey, but without the snobbery.

In these modern times traditional interiors don’t just mean stately homes and castles. Skilled craftsman are using their skills to shape interiors that use a classical visual language and work well in both traditional and contemporary settings creating a transitional interior design style.

The furniture on display by Jonathan Charles demonstrated this well with their gilded iron, art deco and floral painted collections dazzling passers by with the breath taking quality and style. Also on show were coffee tables with an églomisé finish, whereby the back side of glass is gilded with gold or metal leaf, the result is beautiful and can be applied to all kinds of surfaces, not just tables.

Jonathan Charles are currently running a competition for all budding Interior Designers, asking entrants to come up with outstanding ideas for displaying their furniture. There are some good prizes too, visit their competition page for full details.

Rich finishes and textures have been coming back into fashion over recent years and Interio‘s display showed them in all their glamorous glory. Brands such as John Richard, Advivum and Dorya were brought together in elegance and style. Walking around their stands I felt like I was in 1950’s Hollywood.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee takes place this year and this was reflected in an assortment of union jacks emblazoned upon all manner of furniture including sofa’s and wardrobes. But what caught my eye were these colourful Stamp Rugs by Rug-Maker.com . They come in wide variety of colours and denominations and for the true royalists they do a special Diamond Jubilee series. If stamps aren’t your thing, you can create your own custom rug using Rug Maker’s online software.

We keep hearing about how cool LED lighting is (mostly from me) but for sheer exuberance you can’t beat the Aqua chandelier by Portuguese firm Serip. Whilst certainly not the most affordable chandelier at the show, they are some of the most beautiful; fusing classic and contemporary design effortlessly.

After walking around Birmingham NEC for several hours I was very glad to find some expertly crafted upholstery to rest my posterior upon. Duresta have been making sofas for over 70 years, and they are still using the same techniques and expert craftsmanship to mix both traditional and classic contemporary styles. Duresta understandably have strong links to the National Trust, and it is this ‘English country house’ style that is universally appreciated.

Another upholstery maker who proves very good at creating transitional pieces that incorporate small period details whilst creating a modern feeling are Collins and Hayes. I particularly liked their corner group sofas that have built-in day beds.

My final recommendation in the world of skilled workmanship and transitional interiors is in the realm of fabrics. James Hare launched three new collections at Interiors UK: Connaught mixed silk and wool in sophisticated neutrals; Pelham combines silk and linen in over 30 colours and Ashburn uses silk and linen in subtle embroidery and stripes.

If reading about these traditional and transitional interiors has sparked a desire to learn more, then I can point you in the direction of the National Design Academy who are the only interior Design School that offer a Foundation degree in Heritage Interiors via distance learning.

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