The Unexpected History of the Kidney-Shaped Swimming Pool

Throughout the last few weeks, Europe has seen record temperatures and one of the hottest starts to a summer in modern history. For many, the first port of call when a heatwave hits is the nearest swimming pool. While British lidos are growing in popularity after decades of neglect, those on the continent, who have more consistently sun-drenched seasons, are most likely to be found sunning themselves by a private pool. Outside Europe and across the pond, the kidney-shaped swimming pool is synonymous with West Coast glamour and Californian skateboard culture, but where did this classic pool style originate?

Architect Pierre Koenig’s iconic Stahl House, Los Angeles. Photo by Sterling Davis on Unsplash

Most architecture historians look to the Donnell Garden, located in Sonoma, California. Designed by landscape architect Thomas Church, with Lawrence Halprin and architect George Rockrise, for the family of Dewey and Jean Donnell; the garden is now recognised as a Modernist icon and one of the best preserved examples of its time. Completed in 1948, the garden gained enormous popularity for its charming but unusual abstracted forms, including a kidney-shaped pool. Frequently photographed and splashed across many magazine covers, the Donnell Garden soon became a symbol of a modern style of California living that took place both indoors and outdoors. Predominantly, it became synonymous with a style of architecture and landscaping that focuses on creating fluid transitions between the two areas, with both awarded the same level of importance. As the profundity of the home’s radical approach indoor to outdoor fusion, the demand for versatile, robust materials and products that could cater to this new stylistic want. While radical back in the mid-20th Century, we, as designers, still feel that movement between indoor and outdoor spaces should be seamless and stylish and that’s why we created the outdoor rugs of the Rain or Shine collection.

Topfloor’s Berry Rugs, by Esti Barnes.

As word of the magnificent Donnell Garden spread, so did its influence. Suddenly, Californian home-owners wanted their own slice of sinuous style and many found themselves having their own kidney-shaped swimming pools built. What happened next was unexpected, but continues to impact landscapes around the world today. Some time in the mid-1970s, Southern California became trapped in a period of intense drought, and swimming pools sat empty, drained to save water, and largely unused. However, around the time, modern skateboarding was evolving and these seemingly redundant pools became much-loved skate spots for pioneers of the underground sport. Today, skateparks globally mirror the smooth curves of an empty swimming pool.

Venice Beach skateboarding, California. Photo by Julien Lanoy on Unsplash

Despite being championed as a product of the Donnell Garden’s influence, the uncovering of history of the swimming pool took a Scandinavian turn when Finnish skateboarder Janne Saario heard the story while studying Architecture. Saario, inspired by the California skate scene, went on to become a sponsored skater and competed in cities all over the world. Through skateboarding, Saario says, he fell in love with architecture and design, and went on to study architecture in University. As he heard more about the kidney-shaped pool legacy, he began to question its origins, having been aware of a much older but similarly shaped pool designed by none other than Alvar Aalto.

Aalto was renowned for his curving partitions, rounded tiles, and undulating counters — all crisp and functional, but a little more natural and cosy than other Modernist works. While many Modernists toyed with sterile concrete and clean white paint, Aalto began to work with natural wood, bending, gluing and veneering it in previously unseen ways. When art collector and lumber heiress Marie Gullischen asked Aalto to design her country home, the Villa Mairea, Aalto included a pool, defined, of course, by his signature curvaceous style.

Villa Mairea swimming pool, desinged by Alvar Aalto.

So that leaves us with one question, how did Aalto’s influence get from rural Finland to the West Coast of America? Rumour has it that Donnell Garden architect Thomas Church, visited Finland with his wife Betsy in 1937. The pair somehow located out Aalto’s home studio and decided to drop in. Aalto welcomed them in and the unlikely trio formed a firm friendship. It’s plausible that designs for the Villa Mairea (and its pool) were on display in Aalto’s studio while Church was visiting. This might have inspired the soon to be constructed Donnell Garden swimming pool.

 

Five Favourite Summer Destinations for the Creative Traveller

“We travel to learn; and I have never been in any country where they did not do something better than we do it, think some thoughts better than we think, catch some inspiration from heights above our own.” Nineteenth century scientist Maria Mitchell’s musings on travel and inspiration are as relevant now as they were back in 1889. Travel is often cited as one of the main sources of inspiration for creatives from all corners of our world.

Topfloor’s Esquire Rug, designed by Esti Barnes. Inspired by sand dunes on the beach.

While travel for business is one of the great privileges of working in an international design and architecture industry, sometimes the weary designer needs time to detach from the norm, unplug from the internet and be one with a new and exciting environment. As the summer holiday season approaches, we’re sharing some of our favourite destinations for relaxing, recharging and getting inspired.

Bodrum Sunset. Photograph by Esti Barnes.

Bodrum, Turkey

The sea informs everything in Bodrum, a place that only really makes sense when experienced from the water. Turkey’s jagged western coastline means that peninsulas reach out into the ocean and many areas are only reachable by boat. While tricky to navigate, there’s a certain majesty in its hidden beauty. When writer Cevat Sakir Kabaa˘gaçli – an aristocrat from Istanbul – was exiled to live in a hut on the Bodrum beach for three years he (luckily) fell in love with the area and ended up staying for thirty years. We recommend staying at the local Mandarin Oriental or Amanruya hotels for a touch of luxury.

Bali seen from the ocean on the Amankila coast.

Bali, Indonesia

If you’ve ever craved the fused seclusion and glamour of a Bond film beach, Bali is the perfect destination. While the Indonesian island is more popular than ever with the rich and famous, its authentic appeal is fiercely protected by the locals and travellers are encouraged to find the unique Bali they are looking for. Soul-searching is a must when confronted with the incredible landscapes, and the spiritual healers of Bali are considered some of the best on the planet. While the island is teeming with stunning resorts, we love staying at Amankila.

Koh Samui. Photo by Kit Suman on Unsplash

Koh Samui, Thailand

We’ve all heard the tales of European and American tourists spoiling the many Thai destinations available to travellers, but a country with such rich culture, history, architecture and natural beauty is not one to be snubbed. Thailand’s second largest island, Koh Samui, lies in the Gulf of Thailand and is renowned for its palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves and densely packed, mountain rainforest. Not to be missed is the 12 metre tall golden Big Buddha statue at Wat Phra Yai Temple, located on a tiny island connected to Koh Samui by a causeway. To guarantee a peaceful, uninterrupted stay, we’d recommend the Four Seasons.

 

Left: A buzzy Cartagena street scene. Right: A Panama hat stall.

Cartagena, Colombia

Perfect for those who seek a little culture to accompany their sunshine, Cartagena is an important Spanish colonial port city, and home to an impressive array of historical architecture. This includes everything from striking palaces once used by the Inquisition, right through to imposing stone castles overlooking the glittering waters of the Caribbean Sea. Originally built as a convent in 1621, the Sofitel Santa Clara is a legendary landmark in the heart of Cartagena’s walled city and the perfect place to stay.

Cap d’Antibes. Photo by Reuben Mcfeeters on Unsplash

Cap d’Antibes, France

When it comes to glamour and a flirtation with the frivolous, nowhere compares to the French Riviera. From vintage tales of champagne-fuelled hedonism to the cultural relevance of the Cannes Film Festival, this sun-soaked corner of France is all about indulgence and elegance. While Monaco and Cannes often steal the limelight, the home of the riviera’s largest port is in fact Antibes, which is also where F. Scott Fitzgerald used to summer. Inspiring in so many ways, Antibes is the ideal destination for those charmed by the eccentricities and excesses of the world’s most flamboyant travellers. Our favourite hotel has to be the Imperial Garoupe.

Topfloor’s Eldorado Rug, by Esti Barnes. Hand-woven with metal threads inspired by the Sun.

Wherever you choose to travel, be sure to practice mindfulness, taking in your surroundings and experiences as they happen, so they can serve as flawlessly recollected sources of inspiration when you head back to work. To browse more of our own travel-inspired designs click here.

The Rise of Maximalism

“I like to work on designs that will draw the eye or be the focal points of the interiors rather than designing barely noticeable pieces.” says Topfloor co-founder and designer Esti Barnes, The reason is also to show that we can push the limits of design and what we can do in the manufacturing process. If we can do the most challenging, we can certainly make the matching ones.” During 2019’s Salone del Mobile and Milan Design Week celebrations, the rise of Maximilamism was championed by everyone from the likes of design giants Versace, Gucci and Paola Navone, to up-and-coming designers from Europe and beyond.

Dimore Milano at Milan Design Week 2019

Commenting the resurgence of bold style and rug designer’s role within maximalist interior designer, Esti explains, “I think, as much as it was safe and easy, it started to become a bit boring. Colour is back, with maximalism alongside it, to bring excitement, life and energy with it. Beiges, mushrooms, oysters and taupes will never die as it has its functions too.”

‘Valentino’ rug by Esti Barnes for Topfloor

Some of the most striking examples of contemporary maximalist interiors come from the world of hospitality, where flamboyance is celebrated and luxury is a given. Described by The New York Times as “a celebratory rebuke to a dreary age”, Martin Brudnizki’s 2018 revival of 1960s-era disco-cum-supper club Annabel’s captured the hearts and minds of those starved of vibrancy during the reign of minimalism. The Swedish designer’s rococo reinvention is now instantly recognisable and has become the main event for most club members.

‘Annabel’s’ Mayfair, London

Meanwhile, seminal hotel designer Jacques Garcia–who according to Conde Nast Traveler has been traveling almost constantly for 53 years–recently celebrated the opening of his debut London hotel, L’Oscar, in Holborn. The seductive interiors were supposedly inspired by the lavishness and eccentricities of Victorian England, with a few contemporary twists.

‘Envelope’ rug by Esti Barnes for Topfloor / Interior design by Rebecca James

While it might be daunting to consider these specific breeds of elaborate decor and opulence for residential and smaller projects, Esti believes that it is just a case of careful collaboration between suppliers and designers, and keeping a keen eye on cohesion. “When we work with designers, we mostly make rugs and carpets matching the schemes with more texture rather than bold designs that bring out the other elements in their interior projects.” she explains. “So it is a balancing act. My mantra is let the rug fit its surroundings and not fight with it. We use this in all cases, including maximalism.”

‘Esquire Evolution’ rug by Esti Barnes for Topfloor

For more bold design and rug inspiration, explore our collections.

 

Three Eco-Friendly Ideas That Will Transform Your Interiors

Last month DECO magazine Editor Abby Trow joined us at our Chelsea Harbour showroom to talk all things eco-interiors. Just like so many others,  Topfloor is committed to making positive changes to the way we live in order to reduce our negative impact on the planet. Interior design, architecture and product manufacture are major players in our consumption of the Earth’s resources, and as suppliers we have a responsibility to make sustainable choices and provide the best options we can to those who choose to work with us. It’s not just suppliers who can make a difference. Every day interior designers and architects specify furniture, accessories and material finishes to create the environments around us. So what are the options for eco-friendly interiors?

Bamboo, photographed by Omar Rodriguez. (via Unsplash)

Embrace boho-glamour with bamboo…

According to writer Yvette Hymann and material directory goodonyou.eco, bamboo can be a surprisingly sustainable crop. A fast growing grass, it requires no fertiliser and self-regenerates from its own roots, so it doesn’t need to be replanted. When compared to cotton cultivation, which requires large amounts of water, pesticides and labour, and the deforestation tied to more traditional wood finishes, the advantages are obvious. Creatively speaking, bamboo is a highly versatile material, use for decades for everything from elegant furniture design, architectural structures, decorative items and even wall and floor covering.We use it extensively in our bespoke rug creations not only for its eco credentials but also for its aesthetic and versatility:

 

A few of Topfloor’s bamboo rug textures 

Opt for cruelty-free material…

Bamboo is often chosen as a more affordable alternative to natural silk  which for centuries has been the material of choice for luxury rug and carpet makers. But there is a dark side to silk. Traditionally, silk yarn is extracted from the cocoons of the silkworms by boiling them alive. Recently, we have discovered a new natural silk extraction process developed by the Eris company which does not require the ultimate sacrifice by the worms. We are already using this new silk in our rug and accessory productions and not only does it tick all the eco boxes but the results are stunning.

Close-up of a Topfloor hand-knotted rug in Eri silk

 

New Eri silk fabrics

Our wood flooring studio gets maximum points on the eco scale since all of our floors are certified by FSC and or PEFC. These are the two certifying bodies that ensure the highest sustainability and eco friendly credentials for all forest products materials and their application across many different product sectors.

Topfloor’s FSC-certified ‘Black Oyster’ in a Beirut penthouse by Kelly Hoppen Interiors.

A nightclub-inspired WC designed by Daniel Hopwood, photographed by Andrew Beasley.

Invest in the latest green technologies…

Finally, British interior design + Japanese technology = eco smarts for the smallest room. The bathroom might not seem like the obvious place to start, but former BIID President and interior designer Daniel Hopwood has some wise words when it comes to going green. Hopwood believes that we can transform the carbon footprint of our homes while improving functionality too. He recommends exploring the recently launched NEOREST AC washlet from Japanese innovators TOTO. He explains why going high-tech and avoiding the need for harsh chemicals and toilet paper is a step in the right direction, “Here we are, still throwing chemicals down the pan, as well as the dreaded wet wipes believing they are biodegradable which they are not.  Still lurking in the corner is the loo brush, certainly not an object of desire. What a sorry affair in every home. Last year I took a trip to Japan and saw the blinding light, a TOTO NEOREST AC. Be prepared to be amazed. the water swirling about the bowl is not just any water, its electrolysed water which acts like a bleach killing all germs, but moments later returns to being just water. Genius. A UV light integrated in the lid which combines with the zirconium coating triggers a decomposition process, making a toilet brush totally unnecessary. There is no other loo out there that can meet such environmental credentials.”

Topfloor’s FSC-certified ‘Black Oyster’ in a Beirut penthouse by Kelly Hoppen Interiors.

For The Love of Design: Embracing Sensuality

Design icon Paul Rand once said, “To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit: it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatise, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse. To design is to transform prose into poetry.”

Topfloor Embed rug by Esti Barnes

With Valentine’s Day approaching and romance on our minds, it seems only right to celebrate the deep sensuality of our environments, and to embrace the invitation to narrate the spaces we live in that interior design extends. Our interiors reflect the lives we lead, with every sofa, rug, table and work of art laced with passion, dedication and a love for creation. Whether it be a bedroom, kitchen, hotel, bar or restaurant, each and every space we create serves to indulge the senses and, as Rand so profoundly stated, illuminate, dramatise and amuse us as we go. We sat down with Topfloor co-founder and designer Esti Barnes to talk about the senses, love and rugs…

Toplfoor Caress collection: Roma in 100% merino wool

How do you embrace sensuality in your design work?

Sensuality is often the subtheme when we design– for bedrooms particularly. It can be subtle and seductive like our ENVELOPE rug with its smooth colour gradation. It can be deep pile creamy silk – like the carpet we just delivered for a superyacht, or soft and curvy like our EVENTAILLE rug.

Topfloor Envelope rug: 100% silk

In your opinion as a designer, why is sensuality important in interior design?

Because it helps to imprint the client’s personality onto their home. The hospitality industry is also good at using design to create ‘fantasy’ interiors as part of the 5-star experience.

Topfloor Cancan Rug: feminine and frilled

How can rugs bring sensuality into a home?

We have a lot to play with. We can create sensuality from shape, whether the undulating curves of EVENTAILLE or the coquettish frills of CANCAN. Colour too is an obvious mood-setter. Finally, texture is key and we have so many choices that feel great under barefoot.

What is, in your opinion, the greatest love story from design history?

The Art Nouveau movement is a great source of inspiration to us and of course itself has sensuality as a recurring theme in its artwork, sculpture and textiles. Textile designer and artist Mariano Fortuny is a particular favourite.

Explore the full range of Topfloor rugs and carpets, designed by Esti, here.

Five Ways to Transform Your Interiors with Rugs and Carpets in 2019

A new year always brings a sense of refreshment and with it the enthusiasm to make positive changes in our lives and homes. There is a common misconception that altering the interiors of a home has to be a costly and intrusive process, but that is not always the case. As lovers of beautiful design we at Topfloor have seen first-hand the transformative power of flooring and how one small change can have a profound impact on the feel of a space.

Think seasonally…
The right rug has the ability to add to or develop an existing colour scheme. It is worth considering sourcing two differing styles for your living room: a thin, light-coloured rug for summer and a chunkier, darker one for the winter months. Transforming the mood of your room can be as easy as swapping between the two.

Topfloor Emmenthal rug (for winter)
Topfloor Kaftan Rug (for summer)

Go for a run(ner)…
Not all spaces are created equal. Some are sprawling and generously proportioned, others are narrow and might be short of natural light. When this is the case, or you wish to highlight a set of stairs or a grand entrance, a runner might be the most appropriate option. Explore unconventional forms pattern and bold colour within our GO-GO collection.

Topfloor Spiderman Runner

More is more…
Scale is one of the most important things to consider when designing a room. How your various pieces of furniture and chosen accessories interact with each other can completely alter the feel of a room. Interiors stylist and journalist Cate St Hill explains, “Getting a bigger rug that can be placed comfortably under furniture doesn’t just make the space look larger, it also helps to create a warm, cosy space that you and your guests will want to linger in.”

Topfloor Endless Rug

Get in formation…
We’ve always enjoyed experimenting with different shapes and styles to create unexpected rugs, and interior stylist PJ Mehaffey has great advice for making the most of different forms. “How you arrange furniture can help play up the rug’s shape. For round and oval rugs arrange most of the furniture, like sofas and chairs, just off the edge, so the shape of the rug is really featured.”

Topfloor Endive Rug

Connect with your home…
As Nylon’s digital design director Liz Riccardi explains, everything is connected, “The allure of a rug is palpable because they are something you physically touch—you sit, stand, walk, and lie on them. For me, a rug is the first thing my feet touch when I get out of bed every morning, and I think there’s something about that act that creates a very strong sense memory connection. The best rugs are really works of art. And the thing is, they can totally transform any space.”

Topfloor Venezia Rug

All rugs shown designed by Esti Barnes.

Whether you’re looking for a striking rug, elegant carpet or chic runner, you’ll find something inspiring at topfloorrugs.com

8 Designers Share Their Christmas Interior Decorating Advice

Christmas has something of a reputation for flirting with the wrong side of kitsch, but there’s no denying that, when done well, a beautifully decorated home can evoke feelings of joy. Professional interior designers are well-versed in grappling with bold ideas and turning them into liveable schemes, so who better to take festive decorating advice from. 

Of course, if you happen to own one of Topfloor’s rugs like STARDUST or DRAGONFLY, your Christmas decorating task is much easier because they already set the scene with their festive colours and twinkling lights.

It all starts with a tree…

“I always get a Douglas fir as big and wide as our house permits,” says Thomas Griem, the architect behind T G Studio. He supplements this with “extremely well-made fake fir branches, which I drape over the mantelpiece and staircase”. Foot-high Nutcracker-style soldiers, sourced from Cologne’s Christmas market, perched among the evergreens.

Where there are trees, there is tinsel…

“I like it,” says Niloufar Bakhtiar-Bakhtiari of NBB Design. “It had a bad reputation for a while, but it’s coming back. It shouldn’t be overused, but I put a little on the tree, to bulk it up.”

Keep things fresh…

According to designer Scot Meacham Wood, variety is the spice of the festive season. He chooses to refresh his scheme every year, even putting different trees in each room of the house. He explains,  “My usual first step is to completely discard any idea that I’ve used before, that way, each year is new and exciting.”

Topfloor Stardust Rug

Revel in traditional ideas…

CeCe Barfield Thompson’s go-to decoration is the traditional garland. “They don’t take up much space and can be used in a number of ways that are child-friendly,” she says. “I use two magnolia leaves and tie them together at the top of my mirror so that they look like one large garland.”

Or rethink wreaths…

Have you considered swapping out your more traditional garlands for boxwood wreaths? Designer Amy Berry says she uses them throughout her house — in front of mirrors and tied to furniture. Why? “It’s not nearly as messy as garland can be,” Berry says.

Topfloor Dragonfly Rug

Feed the senses…

We all know the smells of the season, delicious aromas that instantly transport us to the most wonderful time of the year. Designer Frank Bostelmann says not to underestimate it. “Nothing gets that feeling going quicker than a bowl full of clove pierced oranges,” he says. “Or try a mulled wine with cinnamon.”

Throw the rule book away…

Take what you have and make the most of it, and don’t forget to add hints of your own individual style. “There are no rights or wrongs for a theme,” says Tor Vivian of Tor Interiors. “However, it is important to use materials that reflect the interiors – enhancing, not detracting, from your home. There are a lot of tasteless and brash Christmas decorations out there, but it doesn’t need to be like that.”

Topfloor Rock and Roll Rug

The most important thing to remember is that you can highlight the existing headline features of a home. An investment in a bold, beautiful rug adds all-year-round festivity to any scheme. Browse for yourself at www.topfloorrugs.com

Beautiful Hotels for Design-Loving Travellers

“When you get into a hotel room, you lock the door, and you know there is a secrecy, there is a luxury, there is fantasy. There is comfort. There is reassurance.” Diane von Furstenberg summed up, in only a few words, the enchanting art of hospitality. While the glamour of air-travel and cruise ships has been lost in a world of budget airlines and all-inclusive culture, the charm of a beautifully curated hotel stay is as coveted as ever. For design lovers around the globe, booking into a hotel is an opportunity not only to experience exquisite service and relaxation, but to indulge in a new environment, where every fabric, finish and fitting has been expertly shaped to enhance the away-from-home experience.

At the recent British Institute of Interior Design conference, legendary designer and hotelier Olga Polizzi, as well as design directors from Intercontinental and Hilton Hotels, took to the stage to talk about the art of hotel design, sharing some of their insights and favourite destinations around the world. Ahead of industry-leading hospitality design event Sleep, which takes place later this month, we at Topfloor are taking the opportunity to shine a light on three of the great hotels we have had the pleasure of staying in.

Upper House Entrance

 

Upper House View

Upper House, Hong Kong

An unassuming consideration for visual unobtrusiveness makes the experience of staying at Hong Kong’s Upper House undeniably memorable. Elegance and contemporary style are found apparent in ever design detail. Designed by the city’s own design prodigy Andre Fu, the interiors take inspiration from Asian and Western influences, including wonderfully curated site-specific and nature-inspired artworks.

Rambagh Palace

 

Rambagh Palace Restaurant

Rambagh Palace, Jaipur

Although it is a flawlessly restored 1835 palace, Rambagh Palace Hotel, even with all its courtyards and pageantry, wasn’t built for a queen. It was in fact built for the queen’s favorite handmaiden. Later used as a royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, these days it is considered one of Rajasthan’s most luxurious hotels. The province’s symbol,  the peacock, lends its name to the suite we stayed in complete with four-poster bed, a bejewelled peacock, hand-made silk drapes and fabrics, crystal chandelier, gold-leaf frescoes, and french windows that open onto the gardens and from which we watched a spectacular display of summer lightning.

 

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

 

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

Belmond Hotel Monasterio, Cusco

Opened in 1995, the Monasterio broke new ground  in Cusco by being the first luxury hotel to occupy a landmark building. As impressive as any Venetian palazzo, the Monasterio is housed in the 16th-century Seminary of San Antonio Abad — which occupied the site of an Inca palace — it’s a marvel of stone masonry, colonial escutcheons, Cusco-school artworks and arcaded walkways. Discrete background organ music and the rarefied atmosphere at over 11000 feet above sea-level conspire to induce a meditative calm – particularly useful at check-out time. paying the bill. When walking around the hotel feels like a soul-nourishing museum visit, it’s unsurprising that even non-guests pop in to take a look.

Dragonfly runner from the GO-GO Collection

As designers of bespoke rugs, we have worked in collaboration with luxury hotels in New York, London, Paris, China, the Middle East and elsewhere to create unique, high-quality designs that enhance the spaces they occupy. Explore our diverse collections here.

Bauhaus Women Worth Knowing About

Described by Tate as “long overdue”, on Thursday 11 October 2018 an extensive retrospective of textile designer Anni Albers’ pivotal contributions to modern art and design opened at London’s Tate Modern. Albers was a student at the much-celebrated Bauhaus school, and as an alumni of this radical institution, her name sits alongside some of the most influential figures from the worlds of architecture, art and design. However, despite her historical importance, she is often overlooked and this will be the first ever UK exhibition of her work.

Bauhaus, Dessau, Germany | by Nate Robert

Bauhaus philosophy is one that addresses the need for effective, efficient and affordable design. The school’s founding and most-quoted principle is, “form follows function”. This meant that Bauhaus design processes put the function of a product at the top of the hierarchy of needs applied to any piece of furniture, accessory or interior. This helped shaped the utilitarian style of the era that took inspiration from architectural Modernism but made a number of exciting new materials and manufacturing methods available to the masses. Having graduated from Istanbul’s School of Fine Arts, Topfloor founder Esti was lucky enough to have studied under tutors, such as Boris Niemann, who moved to Turkey from the Bauhaus school. Esti explains, “They opened our eyes to contemporary design.” This influential education later became a catalyst for the Metallica collection, inspired by Bauhaus style.

Topfloor Enrich Rug, from the Metallica collection

As Tate prepares to open it’s showcase of one Bauhaus woman’s legacy, here are three whose stories continue to inspire us today.

Anni Albers

Combining the ancient craft of hand-weaving with the language of modern art, Albers found, within this medium, endless opportunities for the expression of modern life. Berlin-born, Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann joined the Bauhaus school as a student in 1922. It was at the school that she rubbed shoulders with key modernist figures such as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, and it is also where she met famed artist and educator Josef Albers, who she soon married.

Weaving by Anni Albers at Bauhaus: Art as Life at the Barbican | by charclam

While the Bauhaus was radical in its approach to most things, including gender equality, there were still obstacles that meant Albers was discouraged from certain disciplines and began weaving by default. Fortunately, the young designer thrived in this realm and used her craft as a way to tell incredible stories and document the highs and lows of living.

Marianne Brandt

Renowned painter, photographer and Bauhaus professor László Moholy-Nagy recognised Marianne Brandt’s unique talent at an early stage of her studies. With his support and encouragement, she broke rank among gender stereotypes and studied in the male domain of the metal workshop, ultimately becoming more successful and influential than many of her peers. Brandt’s metal objects for everyday use are still hallmarks of the Dessau Bauhaus and she is celebrated not only as a pioneer in metalwork, but as a widely recognised woman in an aggressively masculine industry.

Marianne Brandt Teapot | by Matthew Mendoza

She continued her training at the Bauhaus and continued her work in the metal workshop with Moholy-Nagy. By 1926 she had already designed the first lighting fixtures for the Bauhaus Building in Dessau. From the summer semester of 1927, she was in charge of technical experiments in lighting in the metal workshop. From May 1928 to 1st July 1929, she was the director of the metal workshop.

Gertrud Arndt

Undoubtedly inspired by the likes of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, Gertrud Arndt’s ambition was to become an architect, but it was only when we arrived at the Bauhaus in 1923 that she realised architecture classes were not yet part of the school’s offering. Instead, she began crafting geometrically patterned rugs in the weaving workshop. Famously, one of these textile design adorned the floor of Gropius’ own office. In spite of her way with weaving, it was Arndt’s photography practice that she honed outside of the structured Bauhaus workshops.

Topfloor Epicentre rug

Beginning by photographing the buildings and urban landscapes around her, Arndt’s photography skills were all self-taught. She began assisting her husband’s architecture firm, shooting their project sites and buildings, but it was a series of unique self-portraits titled Mask Portraits that ultimately shaped her legacy. The series shows Arndt performing a range of traditional female roles wearing a profusion of veils, lace, and hats and is now seen as a pivotal precursor to feminist artists such as Cindy Sherman.

Read more about Anni Albers at Tate and watch the trailer for her retrospective here.

Design and Art in Paris and London

September is a pivotal month for interior designers around the world. Between Paris Design Week, Maison et Objet, London Design Festival, Decorex International and London Design Biennale, designers from far and wide pack their bags and head to the two capital cities to uncover the latest and greatest materials, processes and themes that will go on to shape the industry.

Place Vendome. Photo credit: Esti Barnes

From artists, to authors, to musicians and photographers, both Paris and London are renowned for their rich history of cultural alumni. Here are the movements and creative legacies that have inspired us here at Topfloor.

Art Deco

Also known as ‘style moderne’, Art Deco was a movement within the worlds of decorative arts and architecture and originated in 1920s Paris. The name was derived from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in 1925 in the city of love. One of the most influential movements ever, Art Deco represented modernism as it transformed into fashion and luxury. Key figures from this period rejected traditional styles and crafted luxury items, as well as mass-produced wares and architectural icons like the Chrysler building in New York. We love everything about this era of design – fashion, jewellery, interiors, architecture and everything that came with it – and its influence can be found in a number of our rug designs.

Topfloor Marlene Rug, Jazz Age Collection

Jean-Louis Deniot

Someone who we both work with and admire is interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot. His academic training translates into narratives that are simultaneously informal and bold and his eclectic, emblematic interiors are celebrated worldwide. When he does contemporary he does it with with a profound use of history and references that infuse with his unique style to produce a timeless yet timely atmosphere.

Topfloor Roots rug, The Script Collection

Hassan Massoudy

Artist Hassan Massoudy – who was the inspiration behind our Script collection – is an Iraqi artist who lives and works in Paris. He has taken calligraphy as an artform and transposed it into dance and performance art as well as more contemporary interpretations of traditional script styles.

The Swinging Sixties

An era that continues to define British culture, the 1960s blossomed as a revolutionary decade where rule-breaking shaped fashion, music and art, and creative industries thrived on a country’s lust for liberation. Youth ruled and experimentation was everything. Bands like the Beatles encouraged younger generations to own their sense of self and there was a shift in socio-economic power that saw the mad men of the ad world challenged to appeal to a new audience demanding revolution.

Victoria & Albert Museum

Home to a permanent collection of more than 2.27 million objects and artefacts and a constant source of inspiration, London’s Victoria & Albert museum is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. The story of the V&A, which was opened in 1852 and was named after the Queen and her husband at the time, can actually be traced back to the Great Exhibition of 1851, of which Henry Cole (the first director of the museum) was involved in planning. Recent favourite exhibitions have included Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up and Shoes: Pleasure and Pain.

David Hockney

Britain has produced some incredible, groundbreaking artists and one of our favourites is Hockney. His playful, colourful and often thought-provoking style has documented life, love and culture for decades and he was a key contributor to the Pop Art movements of the sixties. He is sometimes compared to Matisse, whose work we also admire, and hails from beautiful Yorkshire.

Find more of what inspires us on Instagram.