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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.

Interview with Paul Williams of PSW designs

Paul Williams is a London-based interior designer with nearly 30 years’ experience, during which time he has worked on a wide range of projects in the UK and abroad. Known for his meticulous attention to detail, Paul likes to work closely with his clients to ensure that the finished design reflects their personal tastes and preferences. We spoke to him about his successful career, his interests and inspirations, and his recent collaboration with TOPFLOOR’s Esti Barnes.

Paul Williams

1. What (or who) inspired you to become an interior designer?

My upbringing was my inspiration. I travelled a lot as a child – I was born in Germany and lived in the UK, Iran and Malta. I was exposed to a wide range of cultures and architecture styles, and was always fascinated by colour, shape and pattern. My parents also had a great eye, so I was surrounded by beautiful things at home. They encouraged my early interest in interior spaces, involving me in decisions and giving me free rein to pick out fabrics and colours. All of these childhood experiences had a strong influence on me. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I wanted to work in interior design – it has always been a part of who I am.

2. Can you tell us a little about your career history?

I started working in the 1980s as a junior for a classic design salon on the Kings Road in Chelsea, which, of course, has a long association with fashion and design. I was surrounded by beautiful fabrics, wallpapers and furniture, and worked with people who understood interior design in its purest form, so it was fantastic training. I then moved into retail design, working on small high-end boutiques – perhaps most notably, Tom and Ruth Chapman’s first Matches Fashion store in Wimbledon Village (and, subsequently, their other stores in the village). This was an interesting time – it was highly bespoke work that enabled me to work with a variety of talented tradespeople, all of whom had a strong creative identity. I have since returned to domestic projects; my designs are strongly informed by the personality and lifestyle of each individual client, so I can’t fall back on any format or formula – it makes the job harder but more stimulating!

3. What is the most memorable or unusual project you’ve worked on?

I have worked on lots of interesting projects over the years, but the standout one for me was the MY Rosenkavalier, a beautiful 1920s motor yacht that was refitted in a classic European style. The work took place in Thailand, which made it a particularly memorable project – the soft furnishings, fixtures and fittings were all sent in from London but we used local artisans to carry out the work.

MY Rosenkavalier

MY Rosenkavalier

4. Tell us about your relationship with TOPFLOOR.

It’s always a pleasure to work with Esti – she has a strong aesthetic, and the quality of her products is exceptionally high. My clients feel very comfortable with her – she is always quick to understand what we are trying to achieve, which makes the decision-making and design process a lot more straightforward! Her studio at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour is a great source of visual inspiration, with a fabulous range of rugs on display. I recently commissioned her to make three contemporary rugs for a fifth-floor apartment overlooking the river in Chelsea, custom made to fit the space. We have just installed them and they look absolutely wonderful – my client is thrilled with the results, as am I.

WOODSCAPE (hand knotted in wool and bamboo)

WOODSCAPE (hand knotted in wool and bamboo)

Labyrinth rug in apartment designed by Paul Williams

LABYRINTH (hand tufted in silk)

Envelope rug in Paul Williams-designed apartment

ENVELOPE (hand tufted in silk)

5. Do you have a preferred TOPFLOOR design?

Personally, I love the simplicity and elegance of Blend Oak from the Flux collection, which is made from alpaca fleece. It has a wonderfully soft, luxurious feel and would suit any setting, from the contemporary to the more traditional. Its versatility makes it a great starting point for a room scheme – very chic and understated.

Rumpled rug close-up

BLEND OAK

6. What are the attributes that make a good interior designer? And what would you say is your strongest skill?

The ability to build strong relationships with one’s clients is an essential attribute. Only by understanding who they are and exactly what they want out of the journey you are undertaking together will you be able to create a design that connects with them on an emotional level.

I would consider my strongest skill to be my ability to visualise. When I walk into a space, I am immediately flooded with ideas. It is not something you can learn – it’s innate. My clients are looking to me for inspiration, so I need to come up with the goods!

7. What is your favourite part of the job?

Finding things! I love sourcing beautiful products that work together, whether it’s the obvious things such as furniture and fabrics, or the smallest details such as a hook for a bath robe.

8. What do you think are the biggest professional challenges you’re facing at the moment?

Technology is something that has somewhat passed me by. I simply don’t want to spend my days in front of a computer – I’ll get someone else to do that for me! I love being out and about, seeing products ‘in the flesh’, spending time in the spaces I’m designing, and building face-to-face relationships with my clients. This personal contact inspires and excites me in a way that the virtual world never will. Building rapport with clients and suppliers is not only enjoyable but also very productive – the vast majority of my business comes via word-of-mouth recommendations.

9. How would you describe the way you live?

I live very simply. My home is what I call ‘Granny’s Cottage’ style! I live in a normal, comfortable way, surrounded by things I love – paintings, books and other items that are important to me. My home reflects the person I am – I’m not interested in living in a super-styled environment. Of course, when it comes to my clients I set all of this aside – every commission is an opportunity to create a unique space that suits the tastes and lifestyle of the client.

sitting room
‘Granny’s Corner’ in Paul’s sitting room!

‘Granny’s Corner’ in Paul’s sitting room!

10. How do you relax after a long week?

If I’m really lucky, I go to the ballet! Otherwise, I visit galleries, spend time in my garden and relax with friends over dinner. Thanks to my job I have met some amazing people over the years, many of whom have become personal friends. They work in creative fields such as fashion, film and dance, so they tend to have an artistic sensibility that chimes with me.

11. If you could take several months off work, what would you do and why?

I would definitely spend the time learning a craft – perhaps weaving or ceramics. I used to help my Granny weave on her large ten-treadle loom, and I studied ceramics when I was a student at college, so these are skills that have always interested me. It’s important to keep oneself busy as one gets older!

12. Any advice you’d like to share with those planning a career in interior design? 

Challenge yourself and never be afraid of doing something new – you’ll learn so much by stepping out of your comfort zone, and you never know what doors it might open. Also, stay positive at all times! There’s no easy route to success, but a can-do attitude and a determination to keep going will get you through the tricky times.

To see examples of Paul’s work or get in touch, visit his website.

Hand-drawn creations: the artistry behind rug design

Rugs sit at a crossroads between art and design. They bring comfort and warmth to a home, but they’re not purely practical; they add a decorative touch to a room, but they’re not only for decoration. A beautiful, handcrafted rug could become an heirloom of the future and, as with a painting, its creation is the result of a focus on form and expression, with a rug’s ‘meaning’ often open to interpretation.

Esti Barnes, founder of TOPFLOOR, often refers to her rugs as ‘art for the floor’. ‘When designing a rug there are many technical considerations that must be taken into account – fibre choice, pile height, knot count, the dying process, cost… the list goes on,’ she explains. ‘To create the right rug for the right clients, all of these practicalities need to be addressed. But it’s the composition itself – its visual impact – that a client falls in love with, and this requires an artist’s touch.’

Esti studied graphic art in her native Istanbul and is a keen art collector with eclectic tastes and interests. ‘I see the world through the eyes of an artist,’ she says. ‘I find inspiration in the mundane as well as the extraordinary and have always been fascinated by colour, texture and composition.’

Colourful photos on Esti's Instagram feed

A few of Esti’s recent Instagram posts

Wherever she goes, whether on a ‘field trip’ abroad or just out and about in London, Esti takes photos of anything that catches her attention. ‘‘The spark that ignites my creativity can come from anywhere – a flower pot, some detailing on a building or the shadow cast by a railing, for example,’ she says. ‘It can get embarrassing when I’m out with friends because I’m always stopping to take pictures! They don’t all become rug designs, of course, but they can serve as inspiration. I save many of them to Instagram, so it is now full of visual prompts that help me with my work.’

The planning of a rug takes a similar route to the planning of a painting. Once the ‘muse’ has been found, the next step is to create a pencil sketch, to which Esti will add colour and texture. Format, size, medium and technique all need to be explored in depth, too. There then follows a sampling process that can take several weeks. Only then can rug production actually begin and the vision become a reality.

Ecosse: original inspiration; pencil sketch; freehand colour drawing

Ecosse: original inspiration; pencil sketch; freehand colour drawing

Ecosse rug in a contemporary setting

Finished design

Eroica: colour specification

Eroica: colour specification

Hand-tufted sample

Hand-tufted sample

Esti’s instincts as an artist are evident when we look at her designs. If the rug is the canvas, TOPFLOOR’s designs cover a wide range of artistic styles, from hand-drawn contours to bold, painterly patterns and abstract compositions.

Roses are red rug

Roses Are Red

Colourful Gloria rug in purples, pinks and reds

Gloria

Colourful, vibrant rug in a London home

Rock ‘N’ Roll

While her rugs work on a purely decorative level, Esti’s understanding of artistic techniques such as colour shading, perspective and the role of positive and negative space add depth to her work.

Ebony and Ivory rug from the Kaleidoscope collection

Ebony and Ivory, Kaleidoscope collection

Rugs have traditionally been a two-dimensional medium but Esti’s innovative 3D collection, which uses her signature surface-carving technique, has a sculptural quality. The different pile heights create a complex surface that invites the onlooker to interact with it.

Esquire Evolution rug in a room with red chair

Esquire Evolution

Other designs show an appreciation of perspective and the clever use of light and shade. Some of Esti’s 2D designs look anything but flat – the trompe-l’oeil effect of Every Stone, for example, creates the impression that the stones are floating, casting shadows on the rug below:

Every Stone rug - close-up of optical illusion of stones floating above rug

Every Stone

And it’s tempting to try to unravel the ribbon-like tangles of Enmesh!

Tangled 'ribbons' of Enmesh rug

Enmesh

Another signature style ‘borrowed’ from painting is colour gradation. The ombré effect, where the colours fade from dark to light, is difficult to achieve on a handmade rug and requires great colour-blending skill.

Eclat rug with subtle colours

Eclat

Esti’s pencil drawing might make Esquisse look relatively straightforward, but its execution required great expertise. As can be seen from the colour tufts below, 18 different yarn shades were used to achieve its subtle fade effect.

Esquisse drawing and finished rug

Esquisse drawing and finished rug

Colour tufts for Esquisse

Colour tufts for Esquisse

TOPFLOOR’s ‘decoupage’ design, Ethereal, is reminiscent of the delicate, intricate work of papercut artists. The lace-like detailing is hand-cut rather than produced using lasers.

topfloor rugs ethereal

Ethereal

It is Esti’s understanding of design combined with her artistic vision that has resulted in her remarkable collection of rugs. Although each design has its own source of inspiration, those who view them can interpret them as they choose – art, after all, means different things to different people. ‘I want my clients to feel inspired by a rug in the same way that they would a beautiful painting. I love it when a client finds his or her own meaning in one of my designs – the best success stories are when there is a genuine emotional connection.’

If you’d like to talk to Esti about a commission, contact her on +44 (0)20 7795 3333 or email  info@topfloorrugs.com to make an appointment at the TOPFLOOR studio at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour.

 

Making Bespoke Design Accessible for All

Until recently, most people associated ‘Bespoke’ with an eye-watering price tag. After all, aren’t you paying for something which is unique and completely personal to you, and that requires the highest level of expertise from both the designer and the manufacturer? At Topfloor, we want to delight every one of our clients by designing and weaving rugs just as they want them, down to the colour, palette, size, shape and texture.

topfloor-esti-dolores

DOLORES

Nowadays, everyone is interested in owning a rug that has been ‘designed’ for them, without the need for taking out a second mortgage. In response, rather like the fashion houses, we employ a number of ‘diffusion line’ options and techniques in order to make the brand affordable to all.

topfloor-rugs-esti-barnes

Creative Director Esti Barnes at work in her home studio

With over twenty years of working in bespoke rug design, our Creative Director Esti Barnes has acquired a wealth of expertise to help Topfloor make custom creations more accessible.

We contract to weavers in different parts of the world. Since manufacturing costs vary between countries, we can choose those with the right combination of skills, quality and price to suit a particular client brief. Each has their own level of finish, but this means that you can still have a hand-crafted rug without having to resort to a cheaper, machine-made or mass-market rug.

The choice of materials is another area where a small compromise can yield savings. It’s no surprise that asking for metres of silk, or the finest merino wool will come at a cost! Thankfully, nature has provided plenty of excellent options, and on-going yarn development research frequently gives us new materials and techniques to use.

topfloor-rugs-kaleidoscope-brocade

BROCADE

Bamboo is a great alternative to silk because of its natural sheen, and as a bonus is also more durable. The bamboo fibres of our hand-knotted KALEIDOSCOPE collection for instance are virtually indistinguishable from a natural silk alternative. Using some viscose yarn is another option.

We also use the finest quality Tencel, another yarn with its origins in nature, which gives a luxuriously rich pile. Our PLUSH collection is a great example of the softness and sheen that can be achieved with Tencel.

topfloor-rugs-esti-caress

PLUSH

Esti has personally developed several techniques that create a more affordable finished product, while leaving the design almost unchanged.

Ombré and graduated colour effects are one of the signature design features that Topfloor by Esti has become recognised for. While we can create sweeping washes of colour by using a whole spectrum of shades, with some technical know-how it is possible to produce a similar effect with fewer tones, lowering costs.

topfloor-gradient-rugs-esti

ECLAT

topfloor-rugs-ethereal

ENVELOPE

Another signature Topfloor technique is 3D pile sculpting, which Esti has used to create the twice award-winning design ESQUIRE EVOLUTION – awash with geometric mountain peaks – and the floral swirls of ETHEREAL.

topfloor-rugs-esquire-evolution

ESQUIRE EVOLUTION

topfloor-rugs-esti-ethereal

ETHEREAL

Due to their intricate design these rugs can only be sculpted by hand, but we can also use colour contrasts to create stunning flat pile trompe l’oeil versions. Not only more affordable, these rugs are a marvel in themselves for translating 3D detailing into two dimensions with a realism which will make you look twice!

topfloor-rugs-esti-even

EVEN

There are a few other areas where savings can be made. While we normally use airfreight to ensure our rugs reach our customers as quickly as possible, it’s also possible to ship by sea when time is not of the essence. This can make a considerable difference to the overall cost, especially when shipping a larger consignment of rugs.

We also offer discounts for large orders. So if you’re an interior designer working across several projects, it’s worth planning ahead and speaking to us early on, to see if you can benefit from these options.

Brexit may already have had an impact on currencies and exchange rates, but we are highly experienced at minimising any effects on the final cost to the customer.

topfloor-rugs-esti-re-weave

RE-WEAVE

Finally, exploring new avenues of design can present some surprising – and cost-effective – results. We have just launched the RE-WEAVE collection, a collection of rugs and runners that features re-worked, vintage kilims. While using vintage materials gives a new, affordable entry price, Esti applied her creative skills to introduce new colours, patterns and detailing to each design, producing a thoroughly unique collection of one-off pieces.

See more of the RE-WEAVE collection here, or contact us to discuss your ideas for a bespoke rug.

Topfloor by Esti is truly a design-led company so even if your budget is tight, don’t be afraid to ask, we’d love to see if we can make that perfect bespoke rug that is just right for you!

London Design Week 2017: Introducing TOPFLOOR’s Re-Weave collection

Next week will see designers, architects and style seekers from all over the world make their way to Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour for London Design Week 2017 (12-17 March). We’re excited to announce that TOPFLOOR’s brand-new Re-Weave collection of flat weaves will be officially launched during the event.

close-up of three kilims in shades of brown and taupe with striped patterns

Hand-made kilims have been used as prayer rugs, dowries or simply as decorative floor coverings and wall hangings across Turkey, North Africa, the Balkans and beyond for centuries. They have become increasingly collectible in the West in recent years, valued for their warm colours and one-of-a-kind designs.

The vintage kilims that comprise the Re-Weave collection are around 100 years old and were sourced from Esti’s homeland of Turkey. They have been reworked to enhance their durability and re-dyed in TOPFLOOR’s signature contemporary colours, resulting in the perfect fusion of heritage and modernity. The designs are tightly woven from hemp, wool or cotton; some incorporate other fibres such as goat hair and ribbon into the weave to add textural depth.

Closeup of textural surface of a Re-Weave kilim

Traditional kilims feature bold geometrics and embroidered ethnic motifs, sometimes with symbolic value, but the designs in the Re-Weave collection have a more subtle aesthetic, making them a versatile choice for a contemporary home. Designs include checks, tweed and two-colour weaves as well as simple, primitive patterns.

Full kilim with checked pattern Closeup of white kilim with simple pattern

Each piece is a one-off to be sold from stock – prices range from £502 for a runner to £1,592 for larger pieces measuring 277cm x 309cm. A made-to-order option is also available, enabling interior designers to select the kilim style, colour and texture that best suits their room scheme.

Kilim runners from Re-Weave collection - checked design on the left, striped on the right

TOPFLOOR’s sensitive reinterpretation of these vintage pieces retains all of their beauty and natural characteristics, while at the same time making them relevant for the 21st-century consumer. Their rich textures and ‘abrash’ (the colour variations that occur with natural dye) are celebrated as inherent components of their beauty.

Re-Weave kilim in neutral colours with simple cross design

‘Kilim-making deserves our respect – it is one of the oldest traditions in the world,’ says Esti. ‘Every one of our kilims has its own story and is, in a sense, a work of art. For us, the irregularities and imperfections only add to their beauty. Traditionally it is said that one’s kilim becomes more beautiful each year, and we would have to agree!’

Iilim from Re-Weave collection in shades of blue with dappled pattern

‘The launch of this collection is very timely,’ adds Esti. ‘Because flat-weave rugs don’t have a woolly pile they are very lightweight and cool, making them particularly well suited to summer houses and conservatories. If you buy now, your TOPFLOOR kilim will be in situ in plenty of time for the spring and summer months.’

Striped kilim in shades of blue, with a summery feel

With the Re-Weave collection, Esti has breathed new life into old designs, ensuring that they will continue to be enjoyed for years to come. If you’d like to view this varied selection of beautiful one-off pieces, visit our showroom during London Design Week or make an appointment via our website.

STOP PRESS: ‘Grow Your Interiors Business through Social Media’

Join us and industry experts Decorum Media at our showroom on the second floor in the South Dome at 12.30pm on Monday 13 March, for an ‘Access All Areas’ discussion about the importance of social media and blogging for the luxury design industry.

Topfloor’s Global Approach to Rug Design

Global interiors might be enjoying their moment in the limelight right now, but TOPFLOOR’s innovative designs have always been rooted in Esti’s love of travel. The sights, sounds, culture and colour that Esti discovers during her field trips to places as diverse as New Orleans, Vietnam, Oman, New York and, most recently, Kerala, influence her designs in ways she cannot always predict. Equally important to Esti are her Turkish roots and her beloved hometown of Istanbul.

‘Beautiful colour and pattern can be found everywhere – you just have to look!’ says Esti. ‘I love using Instagram as a visual diary for my travels. Looking back at my photos can really help to kick-start the creative process in my mind.’

Topfloor_Instagram-images1
Some of Esti’s Instagram images

Some of Esti’s Instagram images

‘Not only is travel important to me as an artist, it also makes good business sense,’ she adds. ‘Our customers range from global hotel brands to individual homeowners and they are located all over the world, so we look to a wide variety of cultures when designing our rugs.’

To lift our spirits in this grey British winter, we’re taking a little tour of some of Esti’s globally inspired rugs. Sometimes the creative muse behind a design is explicit; in other cases, more abstract – but every design has a story! The OTTOMANIA collection, for example, draws on Esti’s Turkish heritage and is inspired by the cultural riches of the Ottoman Empire:

KAFTAN

KAFTAN

PRINCESS GEHVER

PRINCESS GEHVER

And one of Esti’s favourite countries, Brazil, was the starting point for the ALLURE carpet collection. Each of the eight designs represents a place close to her heart, from the bustling cities and beautiful coastline to the dense jungle. RIO references the city’s art-deco architecture (the most iconic example being the Christ The Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain) while BRASILIA, like the city itself, has a modernist aesthetic. BUZIOS and BAHIA pay tribute to Esti’s favourite coastal spots while BONITO, AMAZON, SELVA and IGUASSU reference rich natural landscapes – lush vegetation, tropical rainforest and dramatic waterfalls.

RIO

RIO

SELVA

SELVA

Another collection with a strong sense of place is JAZZ AGE. With art-deco-inspired designs that carry names such as Marlene, Garbo and Harlow, it alludes to the glamorous music and movie scene of the roaring 20s in America.

GARBO

GARBO

HARLOW

HARLOW

The SCRIPT collection also has strong cultural roots. The result of a collaboration between Esti and the world-renowned Iraqi artist Hassan Massoudy, it features stylised Arabic calligraphy characters chosen for their aesthetic value as well as their poetic meaning. The designs are tagged with an (optional) proverb or line of verse, each of which has been taken from a different country or culture.

PATIENCE

PATIENCE

DREAM

DREAM

Other designs are connected to place in a more subtle or abstract way, the idea behind them perhaps triggered by a particular memory. This is the case with the fun, contemporary EMBED design, whose quilted surface and colourful silk buttons represent the mattress shops Esti used to walk past as a child in Istanbul.

EMBED

EMBED

‘For me, crafts and cultures from around the world have always helped to spark the creative process,’ says Esti. ‘But great design can also elevate the everyday into something exceptional – my EMMENTHAL rug, for example, began with a hunk of Swiss cheese!’

Emmenthal design

EMMENTHAL

It can be tricky to create a ‘global’ interior without losing coherence – it can all-too-easily become a mish-mash of styles. TOPFLOOR designs, however, hint at far-flung influences without resorting to clichés or gimmicks. ‘The effect can be achieved in the most subtle of ways – with a certain colour or choice of material, for example,’ explains Esti. ‘Fibres such as alpaca, silk and bamboo, which we associate with specific regions, can become part of the story – the skill is in weaving the different elements together, both literally and figuratively.’

SUNSET IN PHUKET (in wool and silk), in collaboration with Pam Weinstock

SUNSET IN PHUKET (in wool and silk), in collaboration with Pam Weinstock

The sheer variety of TOPFLOOR’s collections proves that inspiration really can come from anywhere. In her next rug collection, Esti will be looking to another culture – but you’ll have to wait until March to find out more! In the meantime, if you’d like to make an appointment at the TOPFLOOR studio to discuss our designs, contact us here. To follow Esti on Instagram, click here.

Christmas in Kerala

TOPFLOOR’s Esti Barnes and her husband Russell spent Christmas and New Year in India, taking in the sights, sounds, colours and tastes of Mumbai and Kerala. In this blog post Esti shares some of the experiences they enjoyed.

MUMBAI

‘We knew Northern India (Delhi, Rajasthan and Agra) from several previous trips, but this was our first trip to Mumbai, says Esti. ‘We stayed at the Oberoi, which is situated on Marine Drive overlooking the sweeping shoreline of the Arabian Sea. With its stunning view, décor and service, it was the perfect start to our journey. We also held our first business meeting here.’

View of Arabian Sea from Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai

‘Noisy, crowded, colourful and buzzing with energy, Mumbai is a city of contrasts, and it is this diversity that makes it a fascinating and eye-opening place to visit. It is the wealthiest city in the country and boasts some of the grandest and most beautiful colonial architecture in the world – one of our favourites was the breathtaking Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station, formerly Victoria Terminus, which was opened in 1887 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It is an elegant example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture and has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Exterior of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station, Mumbai

‘Then, in contrast to all the wealth and grandeur, there are the slums, where roughly 40% of the city’s population lives. The most famous one is Dharavi, where some of the scenes of the film “Slumdog Millionaire” were filmed and which is home to around 1 million people. We spent half a day there, marvelling at the many small-scale businesses producing textiles, pottery and goods made from plastic, metal, glass and paper, among other materials. The products are sold both domestically and internationally, generating an estimated annual turnover of up to $1billion a year.

‘Another place that left an impression on us was Dhobi Ghat, the world’s largest open-air laundry. Against the backdrop of the city’s skyscrapers, the male workers (or ‘dhobis’) hand wash the clothes and bed linen of Mumbai’s citizens, hotels and hospitals. The laundry gets collected every morning and is returned within 24 hours, without any mix-ups or lost items. It was interesting and humbling to observe such industriousness.

Dhobi Ghat open-air laundry

KOCHI

‘After Mumbai, we flew to the vibrant port city of Kochi, in the southwest state of Kerala. Kochi was a spice-trading centre for many centuries and was occupied by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British; as a result, it has a rich, multi-ethnic culture. Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in the distinctive and varied architecture and the harmonious co-existence of Hindu temples, Catholic churches and synagogues.

St Francis Church exterior, Fort Kochi

St Francis Church in Fort Kochi is the oldest European church in India

Woman sorting a huge pile of fresh ginger roots

Ginger sorting in a spice warehouse

‘We stayed in Fort Kochi on the southern peninsula. Said to be the oldest European settlement in India, Fort Kochi is steeped in history and is, as a result, a popular tourist enclave. It is well worth wandering its streets to soak up the colonial charm. You can also take a tuk-tuk, complete with a driver/guide – but beware the lack of suspension and the heavy focus on shopping!

‘Our hotel, The Brunton Boatyard, is a delightful colonial-style building on the site of a former Victorian shipbuilding yard. We would recommend it wholeheartedly for its first-class service and delicious food.

The Brunton Boatyard hotel exterior, Fort Kochi

The Brunton Boatyard

Main hall at The Brunton Boatyard hotel

Hotel reception hall, with its manual punkah fans

‘Near Fort Kochi is Mattancherry, where we visited the Dutch Palace, which was built in around 1555 in the traditional Keralan architectural style. Today it is a museum, its main attraction being the exquisite murals depicting Hindu myths and legends.

Exterior of the Dutch Palace in Mattancherry

Mattancherry Dutch Palace

‘Kochi also has a burgeoning art scene, most notably The Kochi-Muziris Biennale. It is a celebration of contemporary art from India and around the world and it was being held across 12 venues during our stay, so we were able to see some of the works being showcased.

Go Playces art work by Orijit Sen

Go Playces, Orijit Sen

KUMARAKOM

‘Our next stop was the town of Kumarakom, which is a hugely popular tourist destination because of its location next to Vembanad Lake, with its labyrinth of tranquil backwaters. The best way to explore is, of course, by boat – the waterways are dotted with kettuvallums (traditional Kerala houseboats), which were originally grain barges but which have been converted into “floating cottages” for tourists wishing to take in the enchanting scenery.

Vembanad Lake with houseboat Topfloor_Kumarakom-backwaters_houseboat

‘You can sleep on a houseboat or opt for terra firma – we stayed at Hotel Vivanta Taj, which is made up of a series of villas around a beautiful lagoon.

Hotel Vivanta Taj - villas viewed from across lagoon

Hotel Vivanta Taj

KOVALAM

‘Our final destination was the seaside town of Kovalam, with its three beautiful crescent beaches. Once a sleepy fishing village, it is now Kerala’s most developed resort. We got away from it all at Niraamaya, an amazing spa retreat known for its Ayurvedic treatments. After the hustle and bustle of Mumbai and the colour and culture of Kerala, it was the perfect way to end our holiday!

Kovalam Samudra beach viewed from hotel terrace Niraamaya spa resort infinity pool and ocean

We loved Kerala’s beautiful backwaters, beaches and tropical greenery. It seemed cleaner than the north of the country, and we saw far fewer animals sharing the roads with the traffic! The climate was hot and dry, but tolerably so, and the people warm, smiley and eager to help. The Keralan cuisine was also a real highlight – invigoratingly spicy, with lots of pepper, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, cumin and coconut as well as wonderful fresh seafood and fish. A curry lover’s paradise! They consider cooking a very important craft, preparing each meal with great pride.

‘It’s no wonder that Kerala has become one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Asia. There is so much more to tell about the region, but for now, we can say that we have returned to London feeling inspired and energised by everything we saw!’

Buddha statue

 

Chalet chic: Floor fashion at 5000 feet

With the ski season already here, we’re focusing on ‘chalet-chic’ style this month. With an emphasis on natural materials, simple colour palettes and rich textures, our handmade rugs work well with both traditional and more contemporary interiors. TOPFLOOR has a wide range of bespoke hand-tufted, hand-knotted and hand-woven rug designs that will complement any winter scheme perfectly.

Stylishly snug

Mountain homes need luxury flooring, but above all comfort and warmth. Designs in white and other pale hues make a room feel brighter and work well with natural materials such as wood, leather and stone, which tend to feature strongly in chalet interiors. They also reflect the winter landscape – TOPFLOOR’s prize-winning ESQUIRE, with its hand-sculpted surface, brings the surrounding peaks straight into the living room.

Close-up of surface-carved pyramids of Esquire rug

ESQUIRE EVOLUTION

The textured surface of EROSION reminds us of the ripples of a snow drift, while ELM makes us think of the snow-covered branches of a fir tree.

Erosion rug

EROSION

close-up of ELM rug

ELM

Another of TOPFLOOR’s most popular hand-tufted rug designs is EVERLASTING, which, with its swooping curves, fits right in with the ski slopes outside the window.

EVERLASTING rug on a wooden floor

EVERLASTING

When it’s dark and gloomy outside, the soft, velvety surface of a handmade designer rug seems even more inviting – almost like it’s calling you to kick off those ski boots and hunker down in front of a roaring fire.

Our take on the perfect chalet look is ‘rustic luxe’, which calls for super-soft, natural yarns such as mohair, Merino wool and silk, like TOPFLOOR’s ROMA rug in pristine snow white.

Close-up of Roma rug in snow white

ROMA in Merino wool

At the top end, chalets are morphing into small luxury ‘hotels’ for individual families and friends. This has driven demand for a sleeker, more streamlined style for which TOPFLOOR’s collection of hand-woven alpaca rugs is perfectly suited. ‘FLUX is proving popular because it is hand woven from alpaca fleece, which is soft, luxurious and even warmer than wool, but the flatter weave provides a more “minimalist” finish,’ says Esti Barnes, Founder of TOPFLOOR.

Rumpled rug close-up

FLUX BLEND Oak

Wall-to-wall carpet

Carpet is popular in colder climates, and for good reason: it looks warm, feels warm and helps to insulate a home. The thicker the carpet, the greater the thermal insulation it provides, which could result in reduced energy costs – no small matter in a winter retreat! Our ALLURE collection is made from the highest quality New Zealand wool, making it a sumptuous choice. Opt for a neutral colourway so as not to distract from those stunning mountain views…

BUZIOS carpet in sitting room of amazing mountain retreat

BUZIOS White

Wood on floors and walls

Whether you take a traditional or more contemporary approach to the ‘chalet-chic’ look, it’s a fair bet that wood will be a key feature. TOPFLOOR’s range of engineered wood flooring comes in a wide variety of formats and finishes, from rustic boards to Scandi-style blond woods, so there’s something to suit every taste. What’s more, it can be installed over underfloor heating, ensuring toasty toes even in the depths of winter!

Close-up of fumed oak wood floor with brown rug

BLACK OYSTER FUMED OAK

We’re noticing a growing trend for using wood on walls at the moment – it is perfect for the alpine look, bringing an organic feel to a scheme. The beauty of wood’s natural grain pattern adds interest and textural detail, making walls a real focal point. This gorgeous walnut is smooth and sophisticated; rustic boards would bring a totally different but equally stylish aesthetic to your space.

Walnut boards used as wall panelling

EUROPEAN WALNUT WALL PANELS

If you’re renovating a winter bolthole or are perhaps looking to inject some warmth into an existing scheme, TOPFLOOR’s timeless collection of bespoke contemporary handmade rugs, carpet and wood flooring could be the answer. To speak to us about a commission or to view our rug and carpet designs, contact us for an appointment at our Design Centre Chelsea Harbour showroom.

An Insight into Yarns

When it comes to buying a rug or carpet, customers are faced not only with a huge range of styles but also a confusing array of yarn choices. From polyester and polypropylene to sisal and silk, each fibre has its advantages (and, of course, its price tag).

Your natural instinct will probably be to choose the design that best suits your (or your client’s) colour scheme and budget. There are, however, practical considerations that are equally important. Do you want a soft, velvety finish or something more textured? Are easy maintenance and durability at the top of your priority list? Your final choice should, to some extent, be dictated by the planned location of your carpet or rug, your expectations with regard to its longevity, and your lifestyle.

Como rugs from the Caress collection

Como in wool, silk and viscose, CARESS collection

All carpets and rugs are made from natural or manmade fibres, or a combination of the two – as in the design above. The fibres are spun, which involves twisting two or more strands together to make a carpet yarn with high tensile strength. The yarn is then woven or tufted to make the finished product. Colour is introduced either at the raw fibre stage, or when the yarn is spun.

Natural fibres

Wool remains the most popular and practical choice for rugs and carpets. As well as coming from a sustainable source, wool is resilient, fire-retardant, long lasting and naturally resistant to stains. It is, as a result, more expensive than manmade fibres. To make it more affordable and to enhance its natural properties, many manufacturers use an 80/20 blend – 80% wool and 20% synthetic yarn.

New Zealand sheep’s wool is generally recognised as the highest quality wool for rugs and carpets. We chose it for ALLURE, our beautiful wilton-weave wall-to-wall carpet collection.

Less commonly used wool types include lustrous, silk-like mohair (from the Angora goat) and soft merino (from the hardy Merino sheep), both of which feature in Topfloor’s CARESS collection; durable alpaca, from which our FLUX collection is made; and warm, luxurious cashmere (from the cashmere goat), which is used in our hand-knotted collections from Nepal.

Rumpled rug close-up

Blend Oak in alpaca, FLUX collection

Silk was first used in China thousands of years ago. It is the most expensive fibre used in carpet, admired for its plush, luxurious aesthetic. Often perceived as very delicate, it is in fact one of the strongest natural fibres; it does, however, stain easily and is not as sturdy as wool. Because of this (and its high cost), it is often used together with wool.

‘Silk and wool are a winning combination,’ says Esti. ‘I like to use silk in intricately patterned rugs because it dyes better than other fibres and its lustrous appearance really makes the design stand out.’

Emerald rug in shades of blue, made from wool and silk, on wooden floor

EMERALD in wool and silk

‘A natural alternative to silk is bamboo,’ adds Esti. ‘It has a soft, shiny appearance, is strong and flexible and, because it is incredibly fast growing, it is also an eco-friendly choice.’

Boca lifestyle image

Bohca in bamboo, OTTOMANIA collection

Linen yarn is made from the flax plant, which originates from Europe. It has a bright, slightly silky appearance and is relatively easy to care for, but it is not the most resilient fibre so is best reserved for low-traffic areas such as bedrooms.

closeup of hand-knotted rug made from linen, in neutral colour

Hand-knotted rug in linen

Other natural fibres used for rugs and carpets include jute, sisal, coir, hemp, nettle and allo, all of which are hardwearing and provide an attractive depth of texture.

Manmade fibres

Manmade fibres include nylon, polyester, polypropylene and viscose. Although still generally a lower-budget option, synthetics have improved significantly in look, feel and performance since their introduction in the early 1950s. Many have been developed to mimic natural fibres or to add specific benefits such as resilience or stain resistance to a product. Viscose, for example, is sometimes referred to as ‘artificial silk’ because of its shiny appearance; and nylon is often blended with other fibres to increase durability and texture retention.

close-ups of textured indoor/outdoor rugs made from polyester

Berry (left) and Cobbles in polyester, both RAIN OR SHINE collection

Woven designs

Hand-woven and hand-knotted rugs both use the traditional loomed method and require great skill. A woven rug is made by passing the weft over and under the warp alternately, with each row being pressed down against the row below to create a dense, flat weave. Hand-knotted rugs are made using an even more elaborate, time-consuming process in which thousands of knots are tied by hand to a foundation and then cut to create the pile. The higher the knot count, the better quality and more expensive the rug. It is also possible to combine the two techniques to create a rug with different textures.

Hand-knotted rug from the Script collection

Roots (hand knotted), SCRIPT collection

Tufted designs

A hand-tufted rug is made by punching strands of yarn through a backing using a tool called a tufting gun. Although the finished effect is not dissimilar to that of a hand-knotted rug, the process is quicker, usually resulting in a more affordable option.

Hand-tufted rug from 3D collection

Excel (hand tufted), 3D collection

Topfloor’s archive includes rugs in a wide range of materials, styles and production techniques. Visit our showroom to browse our designs and find out more about the craftsmanship that goes into their creation.