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.