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HOW THE EXPERTS SOURCE AND STYLE ANTIQUES FOR INTERIORS

As the interiors world moves away from the minimalism of Scandinavian style and is increasingly opting for lavish, 1970s-inspired schemes boasting layers of anecdotal design, many style-conscious homeowners are looking to the world of vintage and antiques for aesthetic inspiration.

Topfloor Dream rug, from the Script collection

We at Topfloor have always enjoyed blending old and new.The Ottomania collection takes inspiration from the 14th century while Script is a direct reference to the centuries-old craft of Arabic calligraphy brought to life in the artwork of Hassan Massoudy.— and although there is endless beauty in the eclecticism that nostalgia brings, there are also a few important considerations required to avoid turning your home into a dust-laden museum or archival blackhole. These leading industry voices have shared their top tips for flawless procurement and decoration:

Sourcing

“Every good home must have at least one old piece, be it vintage or antique, it helps break the monotony of just using modern furniture,” says Interior designer and judge on The Great Interior Design Challenge Daniel Hopwood. “I love trawling through the internet for old furniture and artefacts. For the glamorous and expensive 1stdibs is it, but for more localised sourcing I go to Panomo where I recently sourced a 19th century Venetian bombe commode for my own home. You have to try Ebay too, I found a pair of French 19th century gilded armchairs with perfect upholstery — the cost? £500.”

Interior designer Daniel Hopwood modelling his Ebay finds. Image courtesy of Studio Hopwood.

Mary Claire Boyd, who is fair director of The Art & Antiques Fair at Olympia, argues the importance of making friends. “Build up relationships with dealers. Once they know you and you know them, they will be willing to find things for you based upon your taste and budget. Discovery is often the hardest job so enlist their support as they are most well placed to do so. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and capitalise on their vast expertise.”

Quality Control

“Don’t be afraid to examine a piece thoroughly, even if this involves crawling under a table or examining the back of a cupboard,” says antiques dealer Appley Hoare. “These are good indicators as to whether the piece is genuine or not. Don’t hesitate to question the dealer about any restoration, the item’s age and provenance. Beware of newly painted items as the paint may hide unsightly restoration, badly stained wood, or worse still wood worm.”

Topfloor Kaftan rug, from the Ottomania collection.

Styling

Rebecca Robertson, interior designer and co-author of ‘Collected: Living With The Things You Love‘, has an easy-to-follow rule for those new to styling vintage and antique pieces. “Group objects by colour. This is one of my favourite tricks. Antiques instantly become unified and, unlike a museum, you don’t have to organise by geography or time period — you make the rules.”

A bedroom designed by Daniel Hopwood featuring vintage bedside tables. Image courtesy of Studio Hopwood.

OUTDOOR DESIGN IDEAS TO CELEBRATE THE GREAT BRITISH SUMMER

As the glorious British summer continues to spoil us with day after day of soul-enriching sunshine, we can’t ignore the charm of a life lived al fresco. From early morning coffee in the garden, to late night dining on the terrace, now is the time to make the most of your outdoor spaces, however petite or sprawling. Outdoor rugs are always a favourite when it comes to zoning outside spaces, but what other design ideas can help us create an enticing oasis of our own?

If you find yourself being drawn outside toward the end of the day, perhaps with a salad or cocktail in hand, you might want to consider making sure the space is usable in dusk light, as well as in the midday sun. “Any small garden can be instantly transformed with lighting.” says award-winning design duo Forward Features. “Whether it be outdoor hurricane lanterns lining the borders, candle holders hanging from branches or fairy lights glistening overhead, using lighting can make your garden feel like an extended space and will ensure that even when the sun goes down, the party doesn’t have to stop!”

Image courtesy of Minotti London.

Elton John once said, “I can not bear gardening, but I love gardens.” Sound familiar? While the therapeutic benefits of gardening are something of marvel, it’s perfectly fine if you’re someone who finds the idea of an afternoon spent weeding on your knees less than desirable. If you love the thought of a low-maintenance, lawn-free outdoor space why not go for a more contemporary look with raw materials and industrial finishes such as copper complementing a chic patio or decked area.

Image courtesy of Minotti London.

When it comes to function, remember three key things. You need something to sit on, somewhere to put your glass down and something to keep you warm when the conversation trails into the night. Writing for House & Garden, Tory Kingdon sings the praises of the humble fire pit. “Fire pits look fantastic in a country setting but are also great for city gardens.” she explains. “They act as a focal point, because nothing beats sitting around a fire, and provide warmth, because let’s face it the extra jumper doesn’t always cut it on a British summer’s evening.”

Urban garden belonging to Esti & Russell, as featured in Homes & Gardens.

As a society crammed into densely-packed urban areas, the need to get creative with architecture and interiors is more apparent than ever before. You’re already making the most of awkward corners and impractical box rooms, so don’t forget to apply the same enthusiasm outdoors. As demonstrated by garden designer Kate Gould with her gold medal-winning show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year, urban abodes (and the dynamic developments they often exist as) are a unique landscape where multi-level gardens can be created, softening new-builds with lashings of greenery and using floral displays to frame the facades of classic townhouses. Play with zoning using different types of foliage and plant-life to give each section a unique sense of identity or purpose.

British Institute of Interior Design members share the secrets behind creating a beautiful summer house

After a long winter, we seemed to have skipped spring and jumped straight into a beautiful British summer. As London basks in a warm glow, our minds have turned to channelling the bright colours of these favourite months into summer house interiors. While we love working on interior projects, there’s something rewarding about collaborating with designers and clients to curate outdoor spaces that delight both aesthetically and functionally.

Chris Beardshaw’s winning show garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

Marking the start of summer in the best way possible, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show returned at the end of May, and it wasn’t just the gardeners showcasing their creative talents. BIID Registered Interior Designer and founder of Studio Clark + Co Lucy Clark collaborated with renowned garden designer Chris Beardshaw to design a stunning show garden, which was crowned Best Show Garden by the judging panel. Clark champions the importance of creating seamless indoor/outdoor spaces to make the most of the season, and bringing the outdoors in with nature-inspired prints.

The interiors of Chris Beardshaw’s show garden, designed by Studio Clark + Co

“I was so honoured to be asked to design interior elements for Chris Beardshaw’s Morgan Stanley NSPCC garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. When initial discussions took place, Chris wanted to create an interior/exterior space. It was therefore important for us to style the spaces which were both practical for outside use complimenting the garden but also comfortable and inviting for the interior. Introducing rugs to exterior spaces is becoming more and more popular with such a wonderful selection for interior designers to chose from. The rug we used at Chelsea instantly transformed the space into a more cosy environment subtly reflecting the sheer beauty of Chris’ garden. We are currently designing a contemporary extension in Wimbledon Village overlooking our client’s stunning garden with concertina doors and a window seat opening the extension right out into the garden. I have been so inspired by my experience working with Chris I am introducing botanical prints to the window seat and cushions which are practical for exterior and interior use.” — Lucy Clark, Studio Clark + Co

Topfloor Reprise Rug in natural silk

Former president of the British Institute of Interior Design and Tessuto Interiors creative director Susie Rumbold reminds us that it’s important to consider the usability of spaces within a summer house interior, and that intelligent surfaces finishes are key to essential long-term maintenance.

“When designing a summer house, the most important considerations arise from the way people use them. People are on holiday, so everything has to be effortless and easy. People want to be comfortable, relaxed and sociable, and nobody wants to be cleaning. Plus there is much more indoor/outdoor traffic in a summer home so much more of the outside gets trekked in. Surfaces must be easy to maintain, bedrooms need to be comfortable and dark for quality lie-ins, there need to be large squashy seating areas preferably with a real fire where whole families can snuggle up and watch movies on TV. Kitchens need to be open plan and set out so that everyone can lend a hand preparing food and cleaning up. Breakfast bars are ideal for this. If homes are to be multigenerational, and they often are, thought should be given to areas where grownups can retire while the kids go crazy, or the grandparents can go to bed early for some peace and quiet.” — Susie Rumbold, Tessuto Interiors

Topfloor Mulberry Outdoor Rug

Echoing Rumbold’s comments on practicality, BIID Director and interior designer Harriet Forde explains the approach she took to designing her own summer house at the bottom of her North London garden.

“I kept the interior quite simple and Scandi-style (reflecting the exterior) as it’s a flexible space for exercise, work, play and an overspill bedroom. We installed underfloor heating for comfort and an easily cleanable floor, to address the issue of mud being picked up from the garden in the winter.” — Harriet Forde, Harriet Forde Design

Topfloor Cobbles Aquamarine Rug

See more outdoor and rug design inspiration over on Pinterest.

Finding interiors inspiration in film

Cannes Film Festival is once again upon us — a timely reminder that some of the best interior design projects are film-sets. From the four-poster dreams of fairytale castles, to the eery perfection of Patrick Bateman’s New York apartment, there are endless cinematic design schemes that have become icons of contemporary popular culture. Piercing this convergence of reality and fantasy with our own creativity, Topfloor has seen its rug designs featured in films, such as 2007 thriller Sleuth. Creating a fictitious world, production designers use carefully curated interior and design items to create a look void of ambiguity that provides a visual insight into the atmosphere and mood of the storyline.

Stone

The symbiosis of these two visual outlets — film and design — is a two way street, and when it came to our 2014 Jazz Age collection, design director Esti took great inspiration from the Jazz Age and Art Deco style, reinterpreting it for the contemporary interior. Each of the six striking designs is named after an equally memorable Hollywood star. 

Harlow

 

Garbo

Fashion designer Tom Ford studied architecture at Parson’s School of Design and his meticulous sense of space and eye for detail are evident in the 2016 crime drama Nocturnal Animals, which he directed. Like any professional interior designer, Ford apparently filled 3 ring binders with cuttings and sketches from which he culled just the right locations, furnishings and objects to capture the dark and often violent mood of the film.

Private residence by www.gregoryphillips.com

Another film director who has inspired a 21st-century obsession with film aesthetics is Wes Anderson. Known for his love of symmetry, pastel hues and flawless uniformity, the über-cool creative has produced a string of cult classics since the launch of his career in 1992. His latest release, Isle of Dogs, was celebrated with an immersive London exhibition of the film’s model sets, complete with a pop-up ramen noodle bar. Fans and critics alike recognise the genius in his approach to taking real life and using poetic licence to embellish and enhance it, and queues for the exhibition itself could be found trailing through London’s West End.

Although his work in stop-motion has received wide acclaim, it is Anderson’s hyper-stylised live-action pictures that have proved to be a catalyst for social media users’ love of precise styling and monochrome art direction. Must-watches include The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). One of the best Instagram accounts out there is @accidentallywesanderson. Racking up an impressive 355k followers in under a year, the vibrant feed is bursting with photography of real life locations that give visitors a taste of what life would be like if we lived in one of Anderson’s films. Below is one of our favourites, why not give them a follow and find your own?

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