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Staying INspired with…Stephenson Wright

Continuing our series catching up with industry friends, here Natalie and Juliette of Stephenson Wright interior design let us know how they’ve been managing their business during the Covid crisis, what’s kept them INspired during lockdown and how they are giving back in their local community.

Celebrated design duo Natalie and Juliette established their interior design practice Stephenson Wright in 2013.  Last year saw the opening of their Surrey-based showroom The Post House, the perfect location to collaborate with partner brands, showcase their distinctive style and newly launched luxury eco-conscious furniture collection.

WHERE ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING FROM AND HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO YOUR NORMAL WORKING ENVIRONMENT

Natalie – Our Studio is based in my much loved garden so I have been incredibly lucky to have had little change in that respect. I also have access to our private showroom space five minutes away for inspiration and have been visiting it weekly to go ‘live’ on Instagram.  We have started our FIVE series where we cover anything from ‘our favourite five ways to lay your dining table’ to ‘our five absolute musts when it comes to buying a sofa’.  We have so enjoyed keeping the inspiration flowing, connecting with our followers, clients and designers and getting past being camera shy!

The buzz of the team has been replaced by quietness and plenty of LBC to keep up with all the government announcements.

Juliette – I have always had a desk set up at home as I am often working into the evening (madly thats my creative time!).

I miss the Studio environment so much and not having everything easily to hand but fortunately Natalie is there so we have all bases covered.

As a partnership we are quite ‘joined at the hip’ so we talk all the time; part of being in a successful partnership is the ability to bounce ideas off each other, to sit and challenge the design aspects of our projects.

This is always going to be best done in person but we are managing well and the materials aspect can be done by Natalie as she is still Studio based.

WITH OBVIOUS RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE, HOW DO YOU CONTINUE TO SOURCE YOUR INSPIRATION?

Although we do source far and wide, most of our inspiration comes from talking to one another and using our imaginations to pull on ideas that we know have worked successfully and building upon them to adapt them to the particular brief in hand.

Pinterest and other digital mediums, as well as online webinars (which are excitingly going on left right and centre!) have been hugely inspirational and enjoyable to take time and absorb from the comfort of our desks.

Having the time to finally read the design books on our coffee tables & also the Japanese wisdom books that we gifted at a recent industry dinner party we hosted. Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton & Ikagi by Hector Garcia– both are Japanologists who shares life lessons inspired by Japanese culture.

Beth has also written a book reflecting the current COVID 19 events called ‘We are in this together’ – Finding Hope and Opportunity in the depths of adversity’ which is available to download.

She is so inspiring to read and has really uplifted our spirits.

HAS THIS SITUATION MEANT YOU ARE USING OR ADOPTING TECHNOLOGIES MORE THAN BEFORE AND DO YOU THINK YOU WILL CARRY ON USING THEM IN THE SAME WAY WHEN ALL RESTRICTIONS ARE OVER?

Oh yes, the website has had a thorough overhaul, we have had more time to build our social media accounts and this week we have been working on our online video tutorials for budding interior designers or home owners looking to gain insight into ‘where to start’.

Prior to the lockdown we had just completed a ‘Design Discovery day’ at our Surrey showroom and had received such amazing feedback (an overview video of the day can be found on our website under events). Since then we have been building on the idea of sharing our love of interiors and our knowledge with some behind the scenes secrets.

We will also be giving tours of the showroom with all our tips on how to create a space that really works for you.

We had to adapt quickly – Zoom calls have been working successfully and may be something we are more inclined to do. What we have found though is there is really no substitute to sitting with a client and building a relaxed rapport plus being able to see paint colours and samples first hand.

We have also used Instagram Live to talk to fellow design industry friends and show a little more of our personalities and history which we have really enjoyed doing. This is certainly something we will continue.

NAME ONE THING YOU HAVE YOU LEARNT YOU CANNOT WORK WITHOUT AND ONE WORK RELATED THING THAT YOU HAVEN’T MISSED IN THE SLIGHTEST.

We both have a trusty Smythson A5 leather writing folder which we bought as our first Christmas present to each other on the first year we started our business in 2013.

They are still as smart now as they were when we bought them 7 years ago and we love the fact they are rather matchy matchy, a bit like our partnership!

We obsessively take them everywhere and it has become even more important than ever to be able to keep track of thoughts and ‘to-dos’ since we are away from our usual desk format where we can constantly remind each other of ‘have you done that yet’ across the table.

We have not missed travelling to meetings carrying multiple heavy sample boards with slabs of marble on the London underground!!

WHILST IN LOCKDOWN, IS THERE AN OBJECT THAT YOU HAVE RECONNECTED WITH OR HAVE APPRECIATED MORE FOR BEING AROUND YOU? (PLEASE SUPPLY A PICTURE OF THIS OBJECT IF POSSIBLE)

Juliette – My bike was gathering dust but its now my favourite thing to cycle along the river with my family.

I also have a piece of art exclaiming – ‘do what you love love what you do’ – it’s something I connect with every day and resonates with me.

We have more time to stop and ponder now rather than rushing all the time – the slower pace has been cathartic.

Natalie – My ceramic sculpted vase from Danish brand ‘Ferm Living’ has been rediscovered and is the perfect size for bringing indoors a small branch of Spring blossom from either my daily dog walk or my pretty pear tree.

We have also been rather inspired and getting quite green fingered at Stephenson Wright and have been creating and delivering 100 ‘Bags of Thanks’ full of vibrant Spring plants to the doors of local nominated NHS workers.

In the process of making this idea a reality we have also raised over £2,000 for the NHS.

The bags are funded and delivered by us with the help of our industry partners Savills alongside assistance from Airsea Packing, Fiona Stephenson Designs and Surrey Life magazine.

The bags also contain a face shield from lighting supplier Cameron Design House and a copy of the May edition of Surrey Life mag for a good read.

We also enclose a card from us and a drawing from Natalie’s daughter of the Spring blooms.

Each bag is incredibly rewarding to create and deliver as we hear all the stories of how each person is giving so much in these uncertain times.

We wanted to show our gratitude to our local community and give something back, no matter how small.


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Staying INspired with…Interior Designer Sarah Ward

We’ve  missed seeing our clients and industry friends so decided to check in and discover how they are managing their working lives and staying #INspired at this extraordinary time. 

First up is Sarah Ward of Interiors by Sarah Ward

Sarah is one of London’s top interior designers and really listens to her clients, taking time to learn how they wish to live, resulting in elegant yet comfortable interiors.

Sarah skilfully introduces vibrant colours and layers textures whilst always mindful of the practicalities necessary for day to day living.

One of our favourite recent projects is Cleopatra where boldly graphic, custom headboards and textured surfaces combine with bespoke cabinetry to create eye-catching results.

WHERE ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING FROM AND HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO YOUR NORMAL WORKING ENVIRONMENT?

I’m in sunny Suffolk.  Miles away in every way from London.  It is super-quiet on the coast and I have wonderful time for creative adventure (in my mind!)

WITH OBVIOUS RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE, HOW DO YOU CONTINUE TO SOURCE YOUR INSPIRATION?

There is still so much at our fingertips – books, magazines, Instagram and the webinar fest is a fantastic source of intel. And I think…a lot.

HAS THIS SITUATION MEANT YOU ARE USING OR ADOPTING TECHNOLOGIES MORE THAN BEFORE AND DO YOU THINK YOU WILL CARRY ON USING THEM IN THE SAME WAY WHEN ALL RESTRICTIONS ARE OVER?

Well yes. I feel that my technical skills have improved massively.  ‘Zoom’ is the new us. Remote everything is accessible and working from home has never been easier.  We will definitely think about this (as far as is practical)

NAME ONE THING YOU HAVE YOU LEARNT YOU CANNOT WORK WITHOUT AND ONE WORK RELATED THING THAT YOU HAVEN’T MISSED IN THE SLIGHTEST.

The showrooms!  Apart from missing the physical inspiration it’s the lack of chat.

I haven’t missed meetings that I really don’t need to be at.

WHILST IN LOCKDOWN, IS THERE AN OBJECT THAT YOU HAVE RECONNECTED WITH OR HAVE APPRECIATED MORE FOR BEING AROUND YOU?

My garden.


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Staying in and being ‘In’Spired

The lockdown is certainly something we are all getting used to and nothing is more important than abiding by the government guidelines to #stayhome and #staysafe. It’s the only way we stand any hope of reducing the spread of Covid 19, especially amongst the old and the vulnerable and to help the NHS cope when dealing with the number of serious infections.

 

But out of the bleakness, one should try not to see isolation as a negative prospect but to encourage oneself to reconnect and rediscover and continue creativity within the confinement of home.

 

As our working routines have changed, it can feel like we are living in perpetual weekend mode, days seem non descriptive or defined and we endlessly wonder from kitchen to desk, to sofa to bed in slumber daze, trying to make sense of it all.

 

But one could also use the time more effectively and create our own personal stimulus that keeps our minds actively creative and to some degree distracted in a more positive way, that will benefit general mental health and wellbeing.

 

Pick up that unopened book that has been sitting on the shelf for far too long, try that recipe you’ve been meaning to cook for ages, clear that wardrobe from unwanted items and block looks for when we can show off again or try re-arranging the furniture to make your space work better for you. You might then be inspired to redecorate, who know’s? There’s absolutely no limit to what we can do with the spare time at home. Only you can set the boundaries.

 

But it’s also about encouraging some reconnection to the things that surround us, that we have collected over time and that we quite often forget about. It’s about rediscovering what those personal things mean to us and why they bring us comfort and pleasure and finding meaning in the important things in life, such as family, friends, a sense of familiarity and fun. Yes fun! Please don’t forget about that. It will come back to welcome us sometime soon, we all hope.

 

Here a few items that our team at Deirdre Dyson have personally picked from their homes that inspires them in some way or brings them a sense of comfort. This reconnection to the inanimate world that we surround ourselves has many benefits. It reminds us of who we are, our history, our inspirations and can lead onto further creative pursuits beyond the items themselves.

Let us know what has #INspired you during lockdown by using this hashtag and tagging us on social media.

 

 

Company Manager Edison – Painting of Queen Elizabeth II

 

 

 

This was a charity find at my local Crusaid Boutique shop in Pimlico, where I live.

 

It was painted in 1977 to mark Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee and is a Cubist oil painting by Cal Howard (as I read it).

 

I’ve tried to search the artist to no avail, so any information would be greatly appreciated!

 

I love the subtle colours of creams and beige leading to deeper chocolate tones and Elizabeth changes throughout the day in different light. Some parts pop whilst others fade. The portrait reminds me of my late grandmother in many ways. The familiarity of a mature and dedicated strong minded woman. It is graceful. It is bold. It reminds me of the pleasure of art and creativity and reinforces the message that quality pieces never fade. Good design and art should survive the test of time. It is a large piece in a very tiny flat, breaking all the rules but hey, its all about pushing the boundaries.

 

Design Technician Nichola – The Lady with the Sunflower on her Head

 

This piece of ceramic  – The Lady with the Sunflower on her Head –  was a present from my family, so she is very special to me.

 

I love ceramics and find the process fascinating. I especially love the fact that every piece is unique.
I normally like objects with a lot of vibrant colour but she is more subtle, thus having a very calming effect.
I love the Sunflower’s position on her head and the detail on her face.  She has a very pleasant face.

I get so much pleasure from having her in my home and never tire of her. 

Trade Sales Manager Chris – Labradorite

I was given this beautiful piece of Labradorite rock crystal a few years ago. I am still always mesmerised by the colours it omits when the light hits it at the right angle on both sides.

It also happens to be the perfect size and shape to fit snugly and generously into the palm of my hand.

I have sometimes held it when I do my daily meditation and was intrigued to recently read some further information about this stone. Seems it holds helpful qualities for times like these!

“Labradorite, the best stone for fighting off an existential crisis. A rock star of mystical lore and ancient legends, the Labradorite crystal meaning can be traced back to the native peoples of icy Canada that believed the stone was created from frozen fire, a result of the northern lights. With its pearly hues that shimmer in a range of iridescent blues and greens, the Labradorite crystal reminds us to keep it magical by linking us to the spirit world, a dimension where anything is possible.”  From energy use.com

Social Media and Marketing Manager Sonia – ‘Young Witches and their Cats’

This is an artists proof that my parents gave me for my 21st birthday. It’s called ‘Young Witches and their Cats’ by a well known Limerick artist, John Shinnors.

It’s sentimental for so many reasons – obviously it was a gift from my Mum and Dad, who visited Shinnors at his studio to select it, and I was born and brought up in County Limerick.  It hung in the bedroom I shared with my sister growing up, has been here with me in London since my husband and I bought our first flat and now hangs over our fireplace at home.

Every once and a while my children ask ‘So how many witches and how many cats are there?’ and we can never agree on quite how many and what constitutes a witch or cat!

To say it’s well loved is an understatement, it hangs amidst a mish mash of my husband’s late fathers batiks and prints and bits and pieces of artwork that we’ve picked up (or stuck in a frame) over the years, each in their own way makes me happy but this is definitely the most special.

 


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Deirdre Dyson’s inspiration for the LOOKING GLASS rug collection

Deirdre’s 2020 collection has just launched at Maison et Objet, Paris.

These hand knotted designs were inspired by Deirdre’s observations of colours and forms through glass, glass objects and water.  Nine new designs take her carpets in an entirely different direction.

Read all about Deirdre’s inspiration for each carpet in the LOOKING GLASS Collection here in her own words:

Last summer I found myself mesmerised by everything I could see through glass and water, particularly on holiday where the sun made everything glitter.

I decided to try to make my designs seem ‘glassy’ even though I was working in wool!  If I failed, I might create something unexpected – I love the challenge of the unknown result and you only discover if you explore.

GLASS CUBES

I started with two little rectangular vases of different colour, photographed them and analysed the colours they created when they were overlapping each other.

I designed two simple geometric shapes representing the cubes and inserted the exact colours from my palette of wool poms to represent where the two colours overlapped which gives the illusion of looking through glass.

I finished the piece with wide silken borders to add the shine and glitter of glass.  I was hugely surprised and excited at the finished carpet which really looked glassy and also very three dimensional.  This encouraged me to explore several different ideas about glass.

SLIVERS

The next attempt led on from this overlapping idea.  I didn’t even need real glass, I just created four shapes, selected four colours and overlapped them creating the colour I imagined would occur if they existed.

What made this carpet successful was the grading I decided to do within each piece.  I had to select about 8 grades of each colour to grade from dark to light, and from the outside in, to give the illusion of seeing through the glass.

This was the first time that we had tried to grade within a random shape which was very difficult to specify for our craftspeople and a new challenge for them too.  Again they succeeded and have given me a new skill to work with in the future.

TRANSPARENT was designed from an existing vase with various shapes and colours in the glass.

I created my own shapes and colours and again looked for the overlapping colours that I knew would occur.  Because the inspiration was a vase I added some silk highlights to represent light against the outside of the vase.  Each of these highlights was a paler colour of the colour underneath.

LIGHT FRAGMENTS

I have a very simple water flask and thought of two different things that I could do with it.  One was to paint exactly what I could see inside through the water which were random abstract shapes and colours which looked distorted and bent through the water and also to add highlights again of paler colours and in silk as seen on the outside of the vase.

LOOKING THROUGH

The second idea was to paint what was behind the vase ie. boat rigging and blue cushions with reflections on a shiny table and then paint the distortions of these within the flask without drawing the outline of the flask.  I knew from exercises in my student days that without trying, the flask would slowly appear and it did, and it does in the carpet, although I made the colours within the flask a tiny bit paler to help it reveal itself.

 

FLOATING GLASS

Being on a boat made me think of all the bits of worn glass that we often find washed up on beaches so another idea was to include chinks of floating glass in a flowing, watery setting.

LIGHT BETWEEN

I had used a great deal of colour in the collection so finally decided to do some monochromatic grading with a path of light and two simple glassy bars in silk that you feel you can see through as they pass over the greys and light between.

This was an accidental idea caused by placing a plain glass bowl, which had a glass ball as its base, on top of a patterned glass plate.  This created a magnification which I decided to represent in silk with just a tiny lightening of the colour inside the area.

STAINED GLASS

On a visit to the Amalfi Cathedral and in one of the small rooms at the back behind all the magnificence of marble and gold was a small plain window high up with beautiful, simple pale colours.  The light behind it made it impossible to photograph but the colours stayed in my mind and I thought that in silk, it might make a lovely wall hanging for a windowless room.
Click here to view all Deirdre’s new designs online or contact us to arrange a viewing of the new collection at our Kings Road gallery.

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Botanical Inspirational – A visit to Chelsea Physic Garden

A perfect Autumn day provided the ideal opportunity for Edison to visit a hidden gem nearby, Chelsea Physic Garden.

Flowers, plants and botanicals have long been a source of inspiration for Deirdre’s rug designs from HAIRY SEDGE to RIBWORT PLANTAIN to FALLING LEAVES , WINDSWEPT and the award winning AUTUMN LEAVES and the wealth of plant life at Chelsea Physic Garden would prove hugely inspirational to any designer.

Chelsea Physic Garden is a fascinating place established in 1673 by Apothecaries, the oldest botanical garden in London and an oasis by the Thames which occupies a four-acre plot beside Chelsea Embankment.

The garden includes over 5,000 different edible, useful and medicinal plants including numerous rare and endangered species.

Thanks to its warm micro climate, the garden features the largest outdoor fruiting olive tree in Britain and the world’s most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree. From pomegranates to ginkgoes, mulberries to eucalyptus, there are over 100 different species of tree in the Garden, many of which are rare in Britain.

The historic Glasshouses hold a collection of tropical and sub-tropical species, complemented by a Victorian Cool Fernery.

Enjoy some of Edison’s fabulous photographs of the plants on view in stunning autumnal light, particularly some fantastically sculptural succulents!


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Street Art and Style In Interiors

Inspired by our recent World of Interiors feature, Edison explores the links between street art and style and interiors.

It’s evident by our latest feature in the World of Interiors rug promotion (featuring FLIGHT and HARLEQUIN below) that the cross over from street art and style into fashion and interiors is ever increasing.

Street influences can offer exciting and graphically enhanced motifs, patterns, colour and form that would otherwise have only been applied to the walls of a derelict building or any accessible public surface on which to paint.

Artists such as Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and skateboard artist Shepard Fairey have recently had their creations applied to Modernica’s ‘Case Study’ chairs, originally designed by Charles and Ray Eames, giving these timeless, modern-classics an alternative way of life.

Thanks to Banksy, the street style has become widely accepted for its creative contributions and output. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to see the urban ‘out’ creeping ‘in’ by way of graffiti inspired feature walls, whether for the home or the office.

Back in 2015 Ray-Ban collaborated with collectable street artist ‘Mr Brainwash’ applying his distinctive splattering of paint to their iconic frames.

But street style doesn’t have to mean complicated, political or overworked.

These modern creations by French artist ‘Remi Rough’ (below) and Portuguese Street artist Vhils (bottom) use clean lines and textures to form their sublime creations. Both artists sell through galleries internationally and have had their work commissioned for architectural projects worldwide.