Our founder and design director, Esti Barnes, began the Topfloor journey back in 1998. Since then, her distinctive textured rug designs, using varied materials and production techniques, have become a favourite in the design world, winning many industry accolades.
Esti is an innovative, energetic designer, recognised throughout the interiors world for her determination to push the boundaries of conventional rug design and manufacturing. Below, we learn more about the talent behind Topfloor…
What inspired you to go into the world of interiors?
I initially qualified as a graphic designer but, on graduation, realised I was more interested in interiors than I was in designing – for example – packaging for milk. I had a showroom in Istanbul, so bringing my passion for interiors with me when I came to the UK felt like the natural thing to do.
How did you go about starting Topfloor?
Topfloor began purely by chance. I was introduced to a company whose three owners were too busy with their own jobs to build upon their rug business. I was given the chance to work on this business, and jumped straight into it. Within nine months I was introduced to hand-tufted rugs (which, being Turkish, I didn’t know existed!) visited India, and saw how they were produced. I then visited the biggest European flooring fair, which changed my vision of rugs. At the end of it all, I saw the future in setting up my own rug business. It has all gone on from there.
Esquire rug sketch
Can you talk us through your design process?
I always do my sketches by hand, so they are always drawn on paper with pencil. I will then colour them, unless they are 3D, in which case there is no need for this – in these cases I just choose the colour from the pombox. Once I decide that I’d like to keep the design, I put together my notes on what texture and material I want the different parts to be in and send them to the factory, where the computer renderings are done, and sent back to me for approval. The next stage is sampling – time on this can vary, sometimes it only takes one sample and sometimes many more. What’s important is not to get discouraged and give up. In some past cases, I have ended up with two designs as the concept can be too complicated to convey to the factory. For example, the double award-winning ‘Esquire’ rug design produced another design – ‘Everest’ – in the process.
Which of your designs is your favourite? And which are you most proud of?
Envelope, Enmesh, Emerald and Princess Gevher are some favourites. I am proud to have come up with ‘Esquire,’ with its pile carved in angular facets that was being done for the first time in rugs/carpets– it has won two big awards, produced a lot of sales and inspired a lot of other designers.
A carefully curated mix of inspirational pieces bring character to Esti’s own home. Artwork by Ismet Dogan
Where do you live and why? What is your own home like?
Chelsea. When I moved to London it was a condition to live in Chelsea. It was all I knew and loved. I still love it with a passion. My home is eclectic, with pieces from all the countries I love – Turkey, Brazil, Italy, Colombia, Africa and, of course, England. I don’t like interiors that have no character, and that look like furniture showrooms.
Artwork by Balkan Naci Islimyeli in Esti’s home
’Cyclists’ by David Gerstein
Do you own any pieces you feel you couldn’t live without?
Yes. I have an armoire that travels with me. It was made in Turkey with reclaimed oak, and is huge. Fortunately it disassembles, as it would have been impossible to have it in my last five houses in London otherwise. I also can’t live without the artworks that I have hand-picked over the years. Most of them are by my tutors at the university and they mean a lot to me.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Unfortunately, good food.
As someone who loves to travel, where is your favourite place to visit? Do you have a different favourite when it comes to travelling for business, and travelling for pleasure?
I love New York for business, pleasure and can go there at the drop of a hat. I can name it as one of my favourites but not the only one. I love South America for its music, colours, dance and fun, and also for the textiles and jewellery. For business I love going to India and the Far East.
If you had a day to yourself, what would you choose to do?
Design, visit galleries, shop and eat at restaurants!