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The Enchanting Story of Milan Design Week (And What to See While You’re There)

2018 will see Italian style-hub Milan host the 57th edition of Salone del Mobile, the world’s largest and most influential furniture and interior design fair. Launched as a furniture-focused showcase of the world’s greatest designs, original sponsors of the fair were manufacturers from the Federelegno-Arredo trade association, but these days the show itself welcomes more than 2000 exhibitors, while the number of brands, studios and designers contributing the city-wide event can be in excess of 13,000.

Bar Basso, photographed by Andrea Zani

Also known as Milan Design Week, this year’s event will take place 17—22 April and will have been highlighted in the diaries of architects, interior designers, design tourists and journalists alike for many months prior. Regular Milan-goers will agree that accommodation is in short supply and you can end up scattered across the stunning urban landscape, but Salone veterans also know that there’s only one place to be at the end of each day. Bar Basso is arguably Milan’s most famous watering hole. Recognised for its traditionally Italian interiors, and rumoured to be the birthplace of the Negroni, design lovers spill out across the streets surrounding the tiny bar and come together to swap stories about the sights they’ve seen across the city each day. As uncovered by Wallpaper* in this fascinating insight, the tradition began when the bar’s owner Maurizio Stocchetto became friends with a group of up-and-coming English designers in the 1980s. The group included the late James Irvine, who lived in Milan and worked for Ettore Sottsass, founder of the Memphis movement.

Appartamento Eley Kishimoto for Kirkby Design, at Via Palermo 1, 2017

It’s more than just tradition, espresso and perfect Negronis that keep the spirit of Salone del Mobile alive year after year. For interior designers, architects and brands, the Milan fair is the go-to destination for launching and discovering the latest collections, trends and innovations. The best way to stay ahead of the curve and be the first to utilise new materials and process? Head to Milan and hope you find them first. Italian giants such as Minotti and Versace use Salone’s vast exhibition halls to offer an exclusive look into their fiercely guarded new releases, whereas global industry leaders such as Dimore Studio and Kirkby Design utilise the city’s charming streets and beautiful buildings to add glamour and quirk to their showcases.

Dimore Studio, Milan Design Week 2017

Some have been know to take up residence in the iconic cinema and galleria on via Manzoni, while British textile design house Kirkby Design harnessed the beauty of a classic Milanese apartment to create a show-house for their collaboration with Brixton graphic art duo Eley Kishimoto. One of our favourite moments from 2017 was Moooi. Under the artistic direction of famed designer Marcel Wanders, the brand launched ‘A life Extraordinary’ and revealed new works set against the opulent beauty and colour of bugs from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s collection. The level of research conducted by an astounding team of biologists allowed the designs to encompass hyper-realistic photographs within the show and applied to printed carpets unrivalled in detail. Other highlights included Paola Lenti’s vibrant feast for the eyes and the diverse quirks of Rossana Orlandi spotted around the city.

Sé installed the four-room show apartment at Spazio Rossana Orlandi, 2017

There’s lots to see during the design week, so it’s worth getting your head around the geography of the city ahead of any visit. The main hot spots are Brera Design District, Ventura Lambrate and Zona Tortona, while the main show itself, Salone del Mobile, is a brief metro ride north west of the city centre at Fiera Milano. The key to making the most of any of these design playgrounds is carb-loading with pasta and pizza from local restaurants, cobble-friendly footwear and a childlike sense of curiosity.

Moooi, ‘A Life Extraordinary’, photographed by Andrew Meredith, 2017

London Design Week 2018: Milly Burroughs on blogging in interior design

By now you have no doubt heard the term ‘blog’ many times, and lots of you might have wondered how it applies to your business, whether you should be ‘blogging’ and where to start. As part of London Design Week 2018, I was kindly invited by hand-made contemporary rug designer and Topfloor founder Esti Barnes to host a talk at her gorgeous Chelsea Harbour showroom to debunk some of the jargon and share the best tips, strategies and pieces of advice I’ve learnt from my experience as an interior design marketing consultant and art and design writer.

Delphine rug by Topfloor by Esti based on an original watercolour by Rebecca James

In short, I help interior design brands and businesses such as Minotti London, Daniel Hopwood and the British Institute of Interior Design shape their marketing strategies using PR and digital marketing. I also write about design for publications such as AnOther, It’s Nice That, Domus and The Independent. If you want to know more about what qualifies me to advise on the matter, you can check out my website or follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

The best way to manage your marketing strategy and blog structure is to ask yourself the basics before doing anything — what, who, why, when and how? The rest of this post breaks down the basics and should give you a clear idea of how blogging fits into your business and how to write engaging blog posts that work towards your aims and objectives. I’ll keep it brief (you’ll find out why below) but if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch via social media or e-mail.

What is a blog and is it actually the right thing for your business?

Blogging, in the context of brands and business, is creating regular online written content (usually hosted somewhere on your website) that provides a platform for you to define your brand identity, share your industry insight and showcase your values, principles and inspiration.

Courtesy of interior designer Christina Ojo

A blog-driven content strategy could be right for you if your marketing objectives involve driving traffic to your website (to boost sales, leads, SEO or brand awareness), and if you want to grow your social media presence with original content.

How does blogging fit into a wider marketing strategy?

Most modern marketing strategies feature a large digital element. Blogging allows you to share seasonal details from your business while adding context and value to your social media strategy. SEO is also largely driven by website content, but we will get to that later.

What is a content strategy and how do you create one?

Imagine a content strategy as a calendar of events. Take all your marketing and creative ‘moments’ over a 12 month period and work out which ones you might be able to create an interesting blog post about. The blog posts shouldn’t just be announcements that you have done something or visited somewhere (although this should be incorporated into them). These posts should take key themes or subjects related to those marketing moments and discuss interesting things about them, so your reader is really learning something or left with something interesting to think about. Where possible, space your posts out evenly and make sure you are posting at least once or twice a month. This means you have content planned, managed and promoted consistently, which is important for time management and engagement.

What are the main guidelines to follow when writing your blog posts?

Make sure the subject of your blog post is interesting and not just a regurgitation of your diary or other parts of your website, but do make sure you stay relevant to your audience. Spend some time thinking about your target demographic and what they might like to read, in the context of your industry.

Don’t over-write. It’s tempting to explain everything in great detail, but we as humans have great imaginations so you just don’t need to. We have 80% less attention span when reading online than in traditional print formats, so keep your posts under 1000 words. However, to keep your SEO at its best, try to make sure each post is at least 300 words long, and include key words associated with your business in the first 300 words of any post —Google likes this and it may help boost your Google rankings. Between 500 and 800 words is best for reaching all objectives.

Find yourself a proof-reader! Everyone makes mistakes, but getting a second opinion on the grammar and spelling in your blog post will mean you’re less likely to publish them publicly. You can also ask them for feedback on whether the post is interesting and flows well, this will really help as you write more and improve over time.

Check out what your target audience is already reading and get inspired. Never copy ideas, the chances are most people will notice, but take a look at the types of content people are already interested in and see how you can adapt those formats to your own topics. Great examples of interior design brand blogs and journals are Amara Living’s The LuxPad and Studio Hopwood’s journal. Also look at the magazines and newspapers your desired audience might read and see what they’re talking about.

Be careful with imagery. Try to use only your own images, whether these are campaign shots, projects you’ve done or just photos you’ve taken. Alternatively, if you are talking about an event, brand or creative, ask if they have images they can give you permission to use. If you don’t, you could end up with a hefty copyright fine — this is policed much more vigilantly than you might think! Don’t be scared of using iPhone (or similar) images, phone cameras are incredible quality these days. Maybe even experiment with image editing apps. Have fun with it and channel your natural creativity.

Links to other pages of your website and to websites other than your own are great, and should be included to boost both your SEO and the reading experience of your audience, but make a habit of checking that links in posts still work after long period of time. If they don’t you will seriously damage your SEO ranking. Perhaps set a reminder in your calendar to check (and remove ‘dead’ links) every two to four weeks.

Who should be writing your blogs and how do you promote them once they’re online?

You, or someone within your business, are probably the best person to write your blogs, but this can be time consuming and must be delegated and given priority just like other day-to-day tasks at work. If not, you will not find yourself posting regularly and the strategy won’t work as well. If you can manage it in-house, that’s ideal, but if not, there are lots of people who specialise in helping brands articulate themselves and write regular content. Just look for content marketers, freelance writers or marketing consultants and spend some time finding one who is a good fit for you. They will work with you to manage your ideas and create content that is still your voice and your brand.

Once you have written a post, use all available avenues to share them. Newsletters are fantastic, social media is great too. Just make sure all newsletters and social media posts contain a relevant image, a direct link to the post and if possible a ‘call to action’ telling someone to “click through to read the full post” or similar — humans actually love being told what to do!

There are lots of great tips for blogging available online, and lots of information on digital marketing, so do some research and start planning. Huge thanks to Esti and Russell for inviting me into their showroom and onto their blog to talk about this, and good luck! For further information, you can contact me at milly@millyburroughs.com

Art and Interiors

The lines between art and interior design have long been blurred, from the cave paintings in the prehistoric age through to the industrial revolution where manufacturers were keen to commission artists to develop, decorate and differentiate their products. Our newest and very painterly rug, Delphine, prompted us to explore the link between ‘art’ and ‘interiors’ in more depth.

‘Delphine’ rug

Parietal art – cave painting in other words – dates back 35,000 years. Amazingly detailed paintings in ochre, charcoal and other natural pigments were used to illustrate extinct animals, human and geometric shapes. Examples include El Castillo Cave in Spain and Chauvet Cave in France, decorated with handprints and drawings. Although the focus back then was function and necessity, these paintings illustrate that looking after homes was a primal instinct and a sign of intelligence.

Cave Painting in Lascaux, estimated to be around 20,000 years old. Credit: Prof Saxx

Although ancient Egyptians had no word for ‘art’, their love of beauty is reflected in their paintings, statues, crafts, architecture and ornate murals. Works were usually created by teams rather than individual artists, from stonecutters carving the hieroglyphics, gem cutters and metal workers inserting precious stones to painters adding vivid colours. The best collections of Egyptian art are housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Just three years ago, archaeologists in Egypt discovered two beautifully decorated tombs near Luxor dating back to the 18th Dynasty of the Egyptian New Kingdom (1543-1292BC). Both were covered in hieroglyphics and colourful murals on plaster (pictured below).

Egypt tomb – Discovery of ancient Egyptian tomb near Luxor. Image courtesy of Ministry of Antiquity, Egypt

Staying in the same region yet fast-forwarding nearly 2000 years, the art of calligraphy was born in the first Islamic century when early formal scripts appeared in the Qu’ran. The genius of Islamic calligraphy lies not only in the endless creativity and versatility but also in the balance struck by calligraphers between transmitting a text and expressing its meaning in a visually-pleasing way. While not unique to Islamic culture – think oriental pictograms – Islamic calligraphy has been used much more extensively and in astonishingly imaginative ways, translating the simple written word into the most intricate art form. Fanciful variants decorated architectural inscriptions, ceramics, tiles, textiles, enameled glass and carved wooden paneling.

Calligraphy in architecture. Credit: StockFreeImages.com

A couple of years ago, we collaborated with internationally acclaimed Iraqi artist Hassan Massoudy, Esti Barnes, our design Director, interpreted and transposed his world famous contemporary calligraphy work into a more substantial and tactile form in our Script collection.

Above ‘Patience’ rug, below ‘Oh Friend’ rug

The results capture the energy and dynamism of the original and reflect the blend of Middle and Far Eastern styles that shape Massoudy’s work. Each of the designs are hand-woven, primarily in fine Chinese silk to illustrate each detail. Watch the video for more info.

‘Peace’ rug

Another form of functional Islamic art arose in the Ottoman Empire during the 13th century and spanned the next seven. Fatih Sultan Mehmet (‘the Conqueror’) was especially interested in western art and culture, giving rise to Islamic-style architecture including his namesake mosque and the production of world-renowned Iznik tiles and homeware.

Iznik ware, Turkey – Ottoman period, second half of 16th century. Courtesy of Cincinnati Art Museum

Suleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566), a skilled calligrapher himself, galvanised the richest and most creative era in the Ottoman Empire, his chief architect defining the period’s glamourous style through the ‘Suleymaniye’ mosque complex and many others. As the rulers were of Muslim faith, the depiction of humans and animals was prohibited in most art forms. Instead, traditional floral elements such as intertwined vines and blossoms together with a naturalistic style of gardens and flowers were often depicted in interiors and ceramics, alongside the use of calligraphy and geometric shapes. Weavers produced beautiful carpets and rugs, some of pile, knotted, looped and tufted to create a plush carpet and others were flat woven kilims. Carpets often featured symmetrical geometric patterns.

Ottoman marquetry and tile top table, courtesy of Wikipedia Loves Art participant “VeronikaB” via Wikimedia Commons

Esti, inspired by this rich heritage, updated it for our Ottomania Collection a few years ago, illustrating the timelessness of this period.

‘Kaftan’ rug

Kaftan draws on the geometric patterns used by the master tailors and imperial kaftan-makers of the late 16th century Ottoman court. Reflecting the silk sheen and imperfections of these hand-made antique gowns, the intensity of the colour gradually fades across the face of the rug and the edges have an uneven finish.

‘Tuğra’ rug

Although Tuğra is the word for the Sultan’s imperial stamp, the sweeping swirls and loops that give this rug its distinctive eastern character are inspired by a calligraphic composition in Celi Sulus script (a bold 19th century style of calligraphy). The flowers are made from silk in a cut pile relief and the background is made from a wool loop pile.

As mentioned earlier, our Delphine rug is showcasing at next month’s London Design Week. The rug is a reinterpretation of the eponymous watercolour by Rebecca James Studio. Executed in over twenty colours, our founder and lead designer Esti Barnes carefully transposed the artwork to paper to create a rug that is true to the artwork. The oceanic-inspired design was then hand-tufted in plush art silk, enabling the colours to flow into one another, capturing perfectly the nature of the watercolour.

Delphine

Utilizing the same technique, Esti turned a photograph of a multi-hued Phuket sunset by British photography artist Pam Weinstock into a luxury rug. By carefully visualizing and calculating the colour combinations for each square inch, only 10 thread colours were used which, by cleverly combining the hues in different ways, became 27.

‘Sunset’ rug in Phuket – based on a photograph by Pam Weinstock.

We will continue exploring the links between the worlds of art and interiors at the intersection of beauty and functionality and building the results into our future rug designs. We are also looking forward to welcoming you at Design Week starting on March 4th at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour when we will also be launching a highly decorative collection of throws in wool and silk.

Christmas in Latin America: Colonial Charm, vibrant colours and Salsa!

We spent the Christmas holidays exploring some of South America’s most vibrant cities: Cartagena, Lima, Cusco and Havana. High on our list for some time, these destinations didn’t disappoint and we’re sharing some of our most inspiring finds.

Our first stop was Cartagena on Colombia’s northern coast. Founded in the 16th century, Cartagena quickly prospered and soon became a plunder target for pirates of all nationalities and the British navy. The Spanish took these threats so seriously that they built a huge 11km wall around the town to defend the colony. From the striking historic palaces and gothic clock tower, to the beautiful baroque-style churches and monasteries, it’s no wonder this city is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Indies’.

Cartegena Street View

Cartegena street

Walking the streets of Cartagena’s Old Town, a UNESCO heritage site, feels like a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel come to life. We wondered around the narrow lanes flanked by sherbet-hued Spanish colonial buildings, the protruding carved-wood balconies and balustrades draped with bougainvillea.

Cartegena Streets

Cartegena streets

The lively sounds of salsa could often be heard, adding to the old quarter’s unique sense of charm and mystery. The local women are dressed in ruffled skirts of bright yellows, blue and reds with baskets of fresh fruit on top of their heads, securely turbaned into place.

Cartegena women with fruit baskets

Cartegena women adorning fruit baskets

Cartagena hosts a vibrant artist and artisan community who sell their handicrafts and paintings in the local markets and along the streets, adding to the town’s sense of magic and old-fashioned Caribbean glamour.

Cartegena hat display

Hat display in Cartagena

Next on the list was Lima, rising above Peru’s long coastline of crumbling cliffs, presenting magnificent views. Colonial facades, old cathedrals and high-rise condos enchant this well-worn Latin capital. Maybe the numerous earthquakes and wars the city has endured since its inception in the 16th century give rise to its many styles of architecture, from baroque and brutalist to rococo neo-classic, art deco and art nouveau.

Lima coastline

Lima coastline

Lima street

Lima street

A large number of historical ruins, known locally as huacas, can be spotted in many neighbourhoods around Lima. They are generally fenced off but one of the major exceptions is the Pucllana Temple or Huaca Pucllana, in the city’s upscale Miraflores district. Built around 500 A.D. during the cultural height of Lima’s history, much of the site has been restored using the powder of the original bricks and excavations continue to uncover artifacts and the occasional mummy. The on-site gourmet restaurant serves haute cuisine by an internationally trained chef, providing dining while taking in ancient views.

Huacapucllana

Huaca Pucllana

The Church & Convent of San Francisco provides a breathtaking example of colonial architecture. Its intricately carved library houses over 25,000 volumes, still intact but so old that they would crumble when touched.

Lima library

Library in the Church and Convent of San Francisco

However, the main draw for us was its catacombs where over 30,000 people were buried until the early 19th century. We eerily wandered through the silent claustrophobic crypts filled with human skulls and beautifully arranged bones.

Lima bones

Bone displays in the catacombs of the Church and Convent of San Francisco

One of the most interesting sights in Lima is the Museo Larco. At the young age of 25, Rafael Larco Hoyle opened a museum in 1926 to exhibit collections of local archaeological pieces, one of which was given to him by his father. Set in an 18th century viceroy’s mansion overlaying a 7th century pre-Colombian edifice, the Museo Larco now offers a magnificent display of weapons, ceramics, jewelry, textiles and artifacts from various cultures that inhabited the region over the centuries starting way before Christ. This is one of the very few museums in the world where visitors are allowed to view the archives, showcasing over 40,000 items.

One of the archive galleries in Museo Larco

One of the archive galleries in Museo Larco

There’s also a separate whimsical collection of pre-Columbian erotica that we found particularly entertaining.

Lima erotica

Display of erotica pieces in the Museo Larco

We then began the rise to Cusco, nearly 3500 metres above sea level. Once the capital of the Inca empire, this city in the Peruvian Andes is renowned for its archeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. Cusco’s main square Plaza de Armas houses two iconic buildings the Cusco Cathedral and the Church la Compania. We stayed in the beautiful hotel Belmond Monasterio, once an ancient monastery that has a chapel with a gold altar inside. Offering every luxury, the hotel even pumps oxygen into the rooms to help guard against altitude sickness

Left: Belmond Monasterio by night; right: Plaza de Armas

Left: Belmond Monasterio by night; right: Plaza de Armas

Cusco is the place for alpaca and it is not unusual to see them on the steep cobblestone streets, alongside the indigenous weavers working the wool to make colourful hats and scarves.

Cuzco weaver and alpaca

Weaver and an alpaca in Cusco

Eighty km northwest of Cusco, Machu Picchu is an architectural wonder. Around 200 buildings are made of individually shaped pieces of carved grey granite that fit like a perfect jigsaw. As with other Inca cities, it followed the religious architectural pattern of truncated pyramid construction. Buildings contained rectangular rooms with irregular sized walls. The site itself is embedded within a jaw-dropping, dramatic landscape with spectacular terraces at the meeting point between the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon basin.

Cuzco Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Onto sunny Havana to warm our bones, once known as the Paris of the Caribbean. Just about every interesting style of Western architecture from the mid 19th century onwards can be found here, however crumbling the edifices may be.

Havana architecture

Architecture in Havana

The deco-esque Bacardi building, the grandiose, neo-classical National Capitol and the 1920s Louis XV-style Museum of Decorative Arts are some of the most iconic.

Havana national capitol, Havana architecture, Havana Bacardi

From left: National Capitol building,  architecture in Havana, the Bacardi building.

Many of the fabulous old 50’s American cars make their way around colonial-flanked, cobbled streets. Many are battered beyond belief but are kept lovingly in working condition, including their radios, wipers and air-conditioning. When asked where spare parts are sourced, the answer was ‘we make them!’

Havana cars

Classic cars in Havana

We spent New Year’s Eve in Havana and witnessed their eye-opening tradition of pouring buckets of water from higher floors onto the pedestrians just after midnight, marking their way of wishing prosperity to all in the New Year. As a result, you either find yourself a comfortable seat and wait for the downpour to stop or run the gauntlet of the upper storey marksmen.

Everywhere was closed on New Year’s Day and we discovered the wonderful world of Fusterlandia completely by chance. It turned out to be a riot for the eyes and we highly recommend it. Initially starting with his home and garden, artist Jose Fuster has redecorated his entire neighbourhood – the fishing village of Jaimanitas on the outskirts of the city – with colourful ceramic tile mosaic murals. Inspired by Barcelona’s Gaudi and Brancusi in Romania, Fuster’s ever-evolving installation covers just about every type of surface, with some wall-art pieces dedicated to countries.

Havana fuster

Fusterlandia – above and below.

Havana fuster Havana fuster

We hope you enjoyed our trip and are as inspired by the photos as we were taking them. Watch out for influences in upcoming rug designs…

References: all photos are taken by Esti Barnes, Design Director of Topfloor by Esti

The Year That Was

At this time of year, we like to take time to reflect on the highlights, successes and the exciting times that we’ve had over the past 12 months. We’re proud to say that for us, 2017 has been a great year!

A favourite moment had to have been winning the prestigious Architizer A+ Award for our LUMINOSO STARDUST rug within the Flooring – Carpet category. The Architizer A+ Awards are the largest awards programme focused on promoting and celebrating the world’s best architecture and products.

To quote the awards, Its mission is to nurture the appreciation of meaningful architecture in the world and champion its potential for a positive impact on everyday life.” Judged by over 400 prestigious figures across a range of industries including fashion, publishing, real estate and tech. With a global audience of over 400 million, the winners receive an enormous amount of exposure. The influence of the Architizer A+ Awards is massive, making winning this award an enormous honour and very meaningful to us.

Esti Barnes with her Architizer A+ Award

Esti Barnes with her Architizer A+ Award

The LUMINOSO collection is fully customisable, there are no standard designs. It is available as both a hand-tufted rug and wall-to-wall carpet. One could create a dazzling runner that twinkles subtly as one walks along it. Or a carpet with solar systems sprawled across it for the ultimate kid’s playroom. This technology was first debuted by Topfloor in 1999 at Decorex as a special feature rug, but at the time the technology was rather cumbersome. Since then, it’s become much easier to fit into most interior environments.

LUMINOSO

LUMINOSO

The idea for the STARDUST rug which won us the Architizer A+ Award, came during a night flight in the USA when our designer, Esti Barnes, was flying over New Orleans and saw the most beautiful scattering of lights from the city and the airport below. The beauty of the rugs in the LUMINOSO collection is their ability to change depending on the desired environment. In the living room with the lights turned off it’s a regular carpet, but when you turn them on, you’ve got the perfect ambience for a spectacular movie room. It’s really a terrific fusion of floor coverings with light decoration. This is something we are very excited for clients to experiment with. It’s a whole new dimension of aesthetic and function.  

luminoso-stardust-award-white

LUMINOSO STARDUST

Some of our earliest designs are proving to be some of the most popular. Unlike the fashion industry, we hang on to our designs and add to them rather than editing. We’re proud to say that our rugs are never retired, providing clients with near-infinite customisation options. Time after time our archived designs continue to sell and receive recognition. It’s a great compliment to us and a testament to our designer, Esti Barnes. With each passing year, we notice a new audience taking interest in our previous collections and it’s great to work with these new designers and their design-passionate clients who were not in the industry when we started out.

One design in particular that keeps drawing new admirers and buyers is the award-winning ESQUIRE rug. This was first designed in 2006 for the apartment of one of the earliest mega-luxe property developers. and won the Best of Year Award in 2007, along with Elle Decoration British Design of the Year award in 2008. Likewise, the EQUATOR rug from 2004 and the EMERALD rug from 2006 are still some of our best sellers and were both finalists for the Elle Decoration British Design of the Year.

Esti Barnes working on new designs

Esti Barnes working on new designs

Our fingers are crossed for next year and we’re hoping to build on what we’ve achieved thus far. As much as we’re looking forward to a festive break, we are already excited for what 2018 will bring as we have some exciting ideas up our sleeve.

As Esti Barnes said herself this week, “I can’t say just ‘more of the same’ as we have a bigger plan for the future. My best advice will be to keep an eye on us via the press and social media.” From all of us at Topfloor, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful  New Year.

Topfloor’s Wood Flooring

At Topfloor we offer great design, top notch service and a truly bespoke approach. This is just as true for our wood flooring as it is for our rugs and carpets.

With well over 100 different wood flooring finishes, plus our bespoke options, we’re confident we can provide the most demanding client with exactly what they’re looking for. Be it a large scale commercial or a high end residential project, we can usually come up with the goods. We can vary dimensions, colour, texture and format. We can supply most of our finishes as boards (up to 45 cm wide and 7 metres long), as parquet blocks or designer panels and more. We can even supply matching veneer for use on wall panels or in cabinet making.

Private Residence, Liverpool featuring PRIME DARK SMOKED OAK

Private Residence, Liverpool featuring PRIME DARK SMOKED OAK

Private Residence, Liverpool featuring PRIME DARK SMOKED OAK

Private Residence, Liverpool featuring PRIME DARK SMOKED OAK

We specialise in premium quality engineered wood flooring, as opposed to solid wood flooring. The difference between the two is a matter of design flexibility and functionality. Solid wood flooring can cause problems because of its sensitivity to changes in temperature and humidity. This can lead to deformation such as gaps appearing between the boards or cupping when the boards try to expand sideways. Our premium engineered wood flooring is much more resistant and is perfectly suited for use with underfloor heating due to its durable multi-layered cross-ply construction.

Knickerbocker Hotel, New York City

Knickerbocker Hotel, New York City

Solid wood flooring often requires on-site finishing, whereas our floors are made to order in Europe and are fully finished and ready to install on delivery. We like to know exactly where our timber comes from which is why all our floors are made using timber that is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and/or PEFC (Pan European Forest Certification) certified. We want our clients to be reassured that when they buy from us, they are contributing to the environment by buying sustainably harvested timber. We also insist that all the components – be it stains, oils, varnishes or adhesives – comply with European and US performance standards and are entirely non-toxic.

Topfloor EUROPEAN OAK on wall

Topfloor EUROPEAN OAK on wall

Our service doesn’t stop when the boards are delivered. Due to the premium quality of our floors, we require that they are installed by fully qualified and highly experienced professionals. That is why we always offer our own fitting service, to get the very best result.

Topfloor TEAK decking

Topfloor TEAK decking

We are proud to have supplied wood flooring to some of the world’s most prestigious residential, hospitality and commercial projects. Retail clients include Dior, Kurt Geiger, Anoushka Jewellery and Gina Shoes. Our premium grade dark smoked oak was used extensively throughout London’s first uber-luxe One Hyde Park development. Renowned interior designer Kelly Hoppen also chose our ‘Black Oyster’ for a 2000 m2 luxury penthouse in the Middle East. After ordering the floor, the client asked if we could provide the same finish for the internal joinery and wall panels. In order to meet the request, we developed a special oak veneer which was flexible enough for the job as well as strong enough to hold the textured finish of ‘Black Oyster’. Finally, to ensure a superb job, our fitters were on site throughout to supervise the installation.

Kelly Hoppen designed penthouse with BLACK OYSTER OAK

Kelly Hoppen designed penthouse with BLACK OYSTER OAK

To find out more about Topfloor’s engineered wood flooring collections, please visit our showroom at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour or visit our website at www.topfloorrugs.com

London Design Festival & FOCUS/17 Debrief

With this year’s London Design Festival now behind us and all the excitement that came with it, we thought it would be great to take a look back and revisit the highlights from the festival. A major highlight for us was the launch of our new collaboration with Wools of New Zealand.

Kicking things off, as part of FOCUS/17 we had the pleasure of hosting social media expert, Grant Pierrus from Interior Style Hunter. Grant runs a marketing agency for luxury interior brands, interior designers and architects where social media and digital marketing are at the core of the business.

Grant spoke to a showroom full of eager listeners and FOCUS/17 visitors about how social media can enhance your business, the fundamentals of social media marketing and the importance of engaging with your fans, creating online networks and how these channels are changing from one to many conversations to more direct, one to one conversations.

Topfloor by Esti Showroom

Topfloor by Esti Showroom

A talk with Grant Pierrus at Topfloor By Esti's showroom

A talk with Grant Pierrus at Topfloor By Esti’s showroom

Tom's Kitchen at the Tatler Restaurant during Focus/17

Tom’s Kitchen at the Tatler Restaurant during Focus/17

At Syon Park, Decorex held their annual event. Decorex as always, is about connecting designers to new trends and brands. One particular highlight was the elegant Shalini Misra designed Champagne Bar. Since it was a special anniversary for the show, all the stops were pulled out to make this an extraordinary edition. According to Shalini, the design was inspired by the Great Exhibition of 1851. Set in Crystal Palace, the exhibition celebrate everything new and burgeoning in the world at the time. In Shalini’s 21st century version, delicate gold and red features evoked an almost oriental theme; muddled in with creatively designed motifs, lush velvet fabrics, ironwork and delightful Victorian finishes all working to bring plush old world luxury to a modern exhibit.

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Shalini Misra’s champagne bar at Decorex

For this year’s VIP visitors, Turner Pocock’s ‘Bahamas style’ lounge offered up a relaxed and whimsical space to meet and greet, affectionately called the ‘Syon Surf Shack’. The design duo teamed up with de Gournay for their ‘Bahamian-beach’ hand painted wallpaper. Filled with natural materials, palm trees, beach baskets, Slim Aaron’s photography and holiday inspired hues it’s no surprise that it was a hugely talked about element of the exhibition.

Turner Pocock's 'Bahama's style' VIP lounge at Decorex

Turner Pocock’s ‘Bahama’s style’ VIP lounge at Decorex

Turner Pocock's 'Bahama's style' VIP lounge at Decorex

Turner Pocock’s ‘Bahama’s style’ VIP lounge at Decorex

A particular mention must also go to Zachary Eastwood-Bloom, part of the chosen few by Future Heritage showcasing the names to commission and collect in British contemporary craft. Zachary is an artist with studios in Glasgow and London whose practice explores the duality of human progress through sculpture, drawing, sound and video. According to Decorex, his fascination lies within the profit and loss of human development through technology and in the notion that through progress there is also cost. At the show, Zachary exploited the potential of computer technology to create arresting marble tables that look as if they are being consumed, offering up a completely new design idea that evokes a striking visual nature. The table also shares a synergy with Topfloor’s ESQUIRE rug, with its textural change part way through. One can imagine the two would look particularly excellent together.

Topfloor By Esti's ESQUIRE rug

Topfloor By Esti’s ESQUIRE rug

Zachary Eastwood-Bloom 'Information Ate My Table'

Zachary Eastwood – Bloom’s Information Ate My Table

Over at the V&A, Flynn Talbot’s Reflection room provided an immersive visual experience of an intensely vibrant nature. According to the V&A, Flynn used 56 custom-made stretch membrane Barrisol panels in gloss black, with Tryka LED’s woven within the panels that emitted vivid orange and blue hues, creating an eye catchingly futuristic look.

Flynn Talbot's 'Reflection Room'

Flynn Talbot’s ‘Reflection Room’

Flynn wasn’t the only one to put on a colourful show. Camille Walala erected an inflatable installation outside Liverpool Street Station, which she said was “to give the city workers something to help them de-stress.” The instillation was reminiscent of a bouncy castle and offered passers by the chance to take a quick wander through a kaleidoscope of colourful shapes, with the hope of taking the edge off the day in the process. Adam Nathaniel Furman also served up a slice of colour with his ‘Gateways’ installation at Design Junction’s Granary Square. In collaboration with Turkishceramics, the installation consisted of four 4m high colourful ceramic-tiled gateways that, according to London Design Festival, “drew people to wander through and experience the rich history of ceramics in Turkey.”

Adam Nathaniel Furman's 'Gateways'

Adam Nathaniel Furman’s ‘Gateways’

Camille Walala inflatable installation

Camille Walala inflatable installation

To sum up what was an inspiring week in London, we’re extremely excited to share with you our new rugs- CANCAN and FANFAN from the OPPOSITES ATTRACT Collection, which we officially launched in our showroom during FOCUS/17. We had been selected by WOOLS OF NEW ZEALAND as their first design partner to create a rug using their brand new Glacial XT™ wool, the whitest yet developed. Esti Barnes, said this on the new rug – “Wool is a mainstay of our production. It ticks all the boxes for look, feel, sustainability and wearability. Of course, we use other materials but wool is our natural all-rounder. This new development from WOOLS OF NEW ZEALAND is great news because carpets and rugs can now be made pure white. The new yarn also allows for more vivid and loyal colour-matching.” says Esti.

Topfloor By Esti's 'CANCAN'

Topfloor By Esti’s ‘CANCAN’

Topfloor By Esti's 'FANFAN'

Topfloor By Esti’s ‘FANFAN’

“We’re proud to have been selected by Wools of New Zealand to debut their bright white wool with our hand-tufted and hand-sculpted CANCAN rug which is an unashamedly feminine design, evoking a wedding gown with its layers of lacy white fabric. We like the wedding dress symbolism because it underscores the whiteness, purity and novelty aspects of the Wools of New Zealand announcement.”

With its swirling lacy tiers and carved border detail, the frothy petticoats of the Moulin Rouge dancers provided inspiration for the rug. As a somewhat Zen-influenced designer, Esti felt the rug required a counterpart. Due to CANCAN’s inherent femininity, a masculine other half was created. With its angular shapes and steely grey bamboo silk, FANFAN filled the void and completed the duo.

At Topfloor, we’re always aiming to push the boundaries, using new materials, production methods and design styles. With this new rug from WOOLS OF NEW ZEALAND using their Glacial XT™ yarn , we feel that we’re staying true to that aim.

There is no doubt there was lots to see and do over the course of the festival and every year the festival seems to grow and expand across the city.  What were your highlights?

Get in touch with us on social media using the links below.

Image References:

1 – Photo of Topfloor showroom by Jack Simpson

2 – Photo from talk with Grant Pierrus at Topfloor showroom by Jack Simpson

3 – Photo of Tom’s Kitchen pop up by Jack Simpson

5 – Photo of Decorex VIP room from Turner Pocock’s Instagram

6 – Photo of Decorex VIP room from Turner Pocock’s Instagram

7 – Shalini Misra champagne bar from Shalini Misra.

9 – Zachary Eastwood-Bloom – Information Ate My Table

10 – Photo of Flynn Talbot’s Reflection room, taken from V&A website.

11 – Photo of Camille Walala’s inflatable installation, taken from Dezeen.

12 – Photo of Adam Nathaniel Furman’s Gateways, taken from his website.

13 – Cancan rug by Topfloor

14 – Cancan rug by Topfloor

Fashion vs. Interiors

Everyone talks about the links between the worlds of fashion and interiors so we thought we’d take a closer look. Fashion is a $3 Trillion industry and most people wear clothes so not surprisingly it affects almost everybody. It also connects with many aspects of modern life such as music, entertainment and, increasingly the interiors world. Despite its huge size, the fashion industry moves at a frenzied pace. New designs transition from the Paris or Milan catwalks to the High Street in a few days. Change is a constant.

By comparison, the interiors industry is roughly one-fifth the size of fashion and moves more slowly. Like fashion it is made up of a few truly global brands and many thousands of smaller designers and manufacturers.

People also shop for fashion and interiors in similar ways, relying more and more on on-line information sources rather than visiting a store. However, when people buy a piece of furniture, they expect to own it for years, whereas that special occasion dress may only be needed for one night. Product life cycles are much longer in the interiors world than in fashion: an Italian sofa from 2007 looks very similar to the latest 2017 model.

Some of the biggest fashion brands (Armani, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli, Hermes etc.) have moved into the interiors market hoping to capitalise on their name to grab a slice of the interiors pie. So far the traffic has been mostly one way but the tide may be turning. The furniture designers Campana Brothers are the creative force behind some highly distinctive shoes and handbags for brands like Mellissa and Camper. The late architectural visionary Zaha Hadid also turned her hand to shoe design for the Mellissa brand. There are others. For instance, architects Frank Gehry and Ron Arad have both designed jewellery, the former for Tiffany.

Red "Vermelha" Armchair by Fernando and Humberto Campana for Edra, 1998

Red “Vermelha” Armchair by Fernando and Humberto Campana for Edra, 1998

Melissa Campana Papel in Red

Melissa Campana Papel in Red

Ron Arad Hot Indigo Earrings

Ron Arad Hot Indigo Earrings

Frank Gehry Ring for Tiffany

Frank Gehry Ring for Tiffany

Zaha Hadid for Melissa

Zaha Hadid for Melissa

The obvious influences from fashion to interiors are in colour and specific themes. For example, blush pink, which was the colour of the catwalk last year, became this year’s big interiors colour. Some might even say the new neutral. The fashion industry has also made our hearts beat faster with African design, animals and the safari theme that can be found in just about every trend report, blog or magazine page. We have seen African-inspired wallpaper and fabrics all over Design Centre Chelsea Harbour. Come FOCUS in September, there will be more.

At Topfloor, we keep a close eye on the world of fashion and pick and choose details that we feel will help us stand out. For example, the baroque decoupage of ETHEREAL owes a little to the gothic excesses of Galliano. The swirling pleats of the screen idols skirts animated our HARLOW rug and 17th Century Ottoman courtly detail is reflected in a number of the designs in our Turkish-themed OTTOMANIA collection. Our KAFTAN rug is based directly on the eponymous dress style.

ETHEREAL Rug from 3D Collection, by Topfloor Rugs

ETHEREAL Rug from 3D Collection, by Topfloor Rugs

 

HARLOW Rug from JAZZ AGE Collection, by Topfloor Rugs

HARLOW Rug from JAZZ AGE Collection, by Topfloor Rugs

 

KAFTAN Rug from the OTTOMANIA Collection, by Topfloor Rugs

KAFTAN Rug from the OTTOMANIA Collection, by Topfloor Rugs

IF YOU KNOW OF OTHER NAMES FROM THE INTERIORS WORLD WHO HAVE VENTURED INTO FASHION, WE’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU AND WILL TWEET YOUR NOMINATION.

CONTACT US ON SOCIAL MEDIA @topfloorbyesti or email us at info@topfloorrugs.com

*Topfloor by Esti does not take credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. 

What’s Going on in the London Art Scene

We’re so lucky to be living in a city like London. There are only a few major art centres throughout the world and London is one of the best. We get all the major exhibitions and shows as well as the most phenomenal permanent collections. The broad variety of art that London offers is overwhelming and there’s everything from prehistoric, classic, contemporary and right out there modern explorative work.

Some of our favourites at the moment and we really encourage you to go and explore and share your finds with us too.

Matisse

Henri Mattisse, The Snail, 1953

Henri Mattisse, The Snail, 1953

The iconic cut-outs by Matisse are on display at the Tate Museum. These bold and colourful works by one of the giants of the Modern Art scene are a must see.

“The exhibition marks an historic moment, when treasures from around the world can be seen together. Tate’s The Snail 1953 is shown alongside its sister work Memory of Oceania 1953 and Large Composition with Masks 1953 at 10 metres long. A photograph of Matisse’s studio reveals that these works were initially conceived as a unified whole, and this is the first time they will have been together in over 50 years. The exhibition also places side by side the largest number of Matisse’s famous Blue Nudes ever exhibited together. “ (Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, Tate.org.co.uk.)

London is the first city to host this exhibition before it moves across the pond to the MOMA in New York City. Visit Matisse at the Tate.

It must be Matisse season at the moment as the Royal Academy is running an exhibition, Matisse in the Studio, too.

Balenciaga

A selection of Cristobel Balenciaga's work available to view at the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition at the V&A Museum, London

A selection of Cristobal Balenciaga’s work available to view at the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition at the V&A Museum, London

As much as traditional art inspires us, fashion is also a huge influence on our work and it’s very relatable to everybody. We all love to wear beautiful clothes. The latest fashion exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum is Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. It’s a fascinating look at how Cristóbal Balenciaga’s exquisite craftsmanship and innovative designs shaped modern fashion. There are over 100 pieces to explore that have been crafted by ‘the master’ of couture, his protégées and contemporary fashion designers working in the same innovative tradition.

Visit Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Summer Exhibition

Entrance to the RA 2017 Summer Exhibition, Edward Lucie-Smith.

Entrance to the RA 2017 Summer Exhibition, Edward Lucie-Smith.

The annual Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy is a regular on our calendar, it’s almost reached its 250th anniversary. It’s always a treat to explore the Academy with over 1000 works on display. It can be very overwhelming, so opt for a tour or a personal guide to help you explore the halls. Do look out for pieces that are affordable, there are quite a few and if you see the orange sticker on a piece that you like, do enquire as there are often prints of the same piece that you can purchase.

Visit Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy

Giacometti

Alberto Giocometti, Bust of Annette IV 1962, cast 1965. Tate.

Alberto Giacometti, Bust of Annette IV 1962, cast 1965. Tate.

The Tate Modern is currently showing the UK’s first major retrospective of Alberto Giacometti for over 20 years. Giacometti’s distinctive elongated figures are some of the most instantly recognisable works of modern art. This exhibition reasserts Giacometti’s place alongside the likes of Matisse, Picasso and Degas as one of the great painter-sculptors of the twentieth century. You get to enter his world through this exhibition to explore his unique way of expressing himself.

Visit Giacometti at the Tate Modern.

Apart from the exhibitions mentioned above, The Design Museum, newly located to High Street Kensington is well worth a visit, not only for the superb exhibitions on its premises, but also to admire John Pawson’s iconic addition to the London architectural scene. Must see’s include Hella Jongerius: Breathing Colour on how colour behaves and California: Designing Freedom on how Silicon Valley’s technical revolution changed our lives, with the driverless Google car on display.

Art/Afrique

William Kentridge. Dessing pour Triumphs and Laments (Procession of Migrants), 2016.

William Kentridge. Dessing pour Triumphs and Laments (Procession of Migrants), 2016.

For those of you who might find yourself popping over to another favourite city, Paris, you cannot miss this incredible exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton: Art/Afrique, Le Nouvel Atelier. The Foundation has devoted its entire gallery and events programme to Africa and its art during the summer season. As we know, African-inspired interiors have been at the forefront of interior design over the last year and it’s great that Louis Vuitton is celebrating the incredible art and craftsmanship that originates from the African continent.

Visit Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier at Louis Vuitton Foundation.

Last but definitely not least, is the DIOR exhibition in Musee des Arts Decoratifs in rue de Rivoli. Plan on a good 3 hours as the curators of this exhibition spared no details from this giant fashion icon’s professional life. The couture, however, is as fresh as the ones you find in today’s Vogue magazine.

 

The benefits of bespoke: TOPFLOOR’s flexible approach to rug design

As our interior designer clients will testify, rug shopping can be fraught with pitfalls. For a design to work well in its assigned setting it must be the right colour, size, shape and texture, and it also needs to be made from the right materials. Finding an off-the-shelf design that meets all of these criteria can be almost impossible. Luckily, TOPFLOOR is at hand to help. There’s no ‘take it or leave it’ policy with our rugs – any design can be tweaked and adjusted to fit the requirements of any space.

Many of our rugs were originally designed with specific rooms in mind, or lend themselves to certain environments. The architectural style of our award-winning ESQUIRE and ESQUIRE EVOLUTION designs, for example, is hugely popular in contemporary living rooms, where the hand-carved surface can take centre stage.

Esquire Evolution rug in living room setting

ESQUIRE EVOLUTION

ETHEREAL, on the other hand, has a feminine aesthetic that works well in a bedroom:

ETHEREAL

ETHEREAL

While the colourful grasses of ECOSSE are often chosen for garden rooms or spaces that overlook garden areas.

Ecosse rug in a contemporary setting

ECOSSE

Designs such as ENVELOPE AND ECLAT, meanwhile, are frequently used in dining rooms and bedrooms because the detail is around the outside of the rug, acting as a ‘frame’ for a centrally positioned table or bed.

ENVELOPE
ENVELOPE (top) and ECLAT

ENVELOPE (top) and ECLAT

However, it is important to stress that there are no rules with bespoke design! We recognise that every project is unique and we are delighted to collaborate closely with our clients to customise our designs – this could involve changing the colour scheme, reconfiguring the pattern, choosing different fibres, resizing the rug or adjusting the pile height. Almost anything is possible. One of the joys of our bespoke service is that our clients end up with a piece that is tailor made for its setting.

COLOUR

The rugs in our studio are a wonderful source of visual inspiration for our clients, but there’s no need to rule out a design simply because the colours don’t match your scheme. The original EMERALD, for example, is a bold mix of blues, but if you are looking for a more muted vibe we can select an alternative palette that will give the rug a very different feel.

EMERALD

EMERALD

Emerald rug in muted tones

EMERALD in an alternative colourway; interior design by Catherine Henderson

Similarly, we first created HASBAHCE in a rich purple hue, but have also made it in understated neutral shades.

Hasbahce in two different colourways

HASBAHCE

We are always happy to advise clients on colour-matching rugs with existing interiors; we can provide computer drawings and samples in your selected colours to help you (and your client) visualise the new version.

PATTERN

We can also work with an existing pattern to create ‘variations on a theme’. On a recent project our client chose EMPRISE, with its central diamond-shaped detail, for the living room. In the interconnecting dining room we installed a new version of the same rug, with the diamond motif reimagined as a border. This created a strong visual link between the two rooms, but each rug also worked independently in its own space.

Emprise rug in sitting room

EMPRISE

You might love the three-dimensional surface of ESQUIRE, but it would be a waste to use it in a bedroom or dining room, where its complex texture is likely to be covered up with furniture. Instead, we can create a version that limits the surface carving to the border, leaving the centre plain. This is, in fact, how EVEREST, the sister rug to ESQUIRE, was born.

Everest rug by Topfloor in Aubergine colour

EVEREST

SHAPE

There’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ at TOPFLOOR – like a bespoke gown, your rug will be made up to the dimensions you specify. While rectangular still tends to be the default choice, don’t be afraid to venture away from traditional shapes – PEACE from our SCRIPT collection has been made as both a circular area rug and a long runner:

Peace
PEACE

PEACE

And here is ESQUIRE once again, this time presented ‘in the round’:

Esquire rug in circular form

ESQUIRE

MATERIALS

Another consideration is the fibres from which your rug will be made. A design in artsilk or linen would not be the best option for a hallway or garden room, for example, where traffic is likely to be heavy and wet soles a potential issue. Don’t dismiss these designs out of hand, though – come and talk to us! We can discuss the possibility of making them in wool instead – it’s a highly resilient, easy-to-clean fibre that would be a more practical choice for this scenario.

As you look through the extensive archive at TOPFLOOR’s Chelsea Harbour studio, always bear in mind that this flexible, personalised approach applies to every one of our designs. No matter how complicated or unique your brief, we are confident that together we will be able to come up with a design that is perfect for the space and reflects the personality and tastes of your client. To discuss your commission with us, contact us here – we’d love to hear from you.