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The buzz of the team has been replaced by quietness and plenty of LBC to keep up with all the government announcements.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

Edison’s latest post explores the various ways mirrors can be used to reflect light and increase the sense of space in interiors.

Now that we are into summer, it’s always a good time to have a bit of a dust down and de-clutter. Open those curtains wide, pull up those blinds and let those sun rays into your home.

As part of this ‘bathing in the light’, what better way than to reflect it by use of mirrors.

A glass treatment associated with wealth and opulence, particularly during the renaissance and up to the late 19th century, glass mirrors date back to ancient Lebanon and the early Roman period, when glass was backed with gold leaf.

Mirrors are now the staple décor item of most homes and come in a range of shapes and sizes. What you choose and how you use them is entirely up to you, but here a few ideas you may wish to consider.

Photography by Tria Giovan
Source: Simone Soares

Group similar mirrors together on one wall to create a reference and feature. Similar designs of different sizes add more visual interest than the usual, single hanging mirror.

Photograph: Nicolas Mathéus

This curvy, postmodern mirror looks more like an installation or sculpture within this modernist scheme.

But mirrors are not just confined to framed pieces. You can go as high and as wide as you dare. Think wall to wall, floor to ceiling.

Remember, mirrors reflect and expand space, so are perfect for darker rooms or smaller spaces. The key is to harbour as much of the needed light as possible, whilst creating the illusion of space.

In this eclectic interior, antique finished, square mirrors have been used on the entire wall to reflect back the space in a more muted way.

The featured kitchen designed by Lecaro Limited, uses rippled mirrors, cut at different angles, to line the walls of the concealed kitchen in this modern penthouse apartment.

Dawn


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Edison’s Introduction to Colour & Colour Selection

Our Company Manager Edison Abidi is a trained Interior Designer and every now and then he’ll share some of his expertise here on the Blog – today it’s probably the most essential element of your bespoke rug design – colour.

‘People can be daunted by the fact that we have over 2,000 colours to choose from when designing your bespoke carpet but fear not! We are here to help and make the whole process as smooth as possible.

At the end of the day, it’s not just about the quantity of colour involved, but most importantly, it’s about how the carpet will eventually harmonise with your environment.

The finished carpet should fit in, create a sense of order and be visually engaging without necessarily being the centre of attention.

Most interiors evolve from an idea or concept or they can just develop naturally over time. Whichever way, they will or should express something of the people that live in them.

Colour will ultimately play an important part of this overall expression.

Keeping the above in mind, we can utilise some very simple formulas (that anyone can adopt) and drill down to find the perfect colours for your carpet.

All these techniques use The Colour Wheel as a starting point.

Colour Wheel

From the three basic primary colours of yellow, blue and red, we can create our secondary colours of green, orange and purple.

Mixing these secondary colours gives us a further palette of yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green and yellow-green.

Colour Wheel

Now imagine breaking that down even further, having all those options of light to heavy saturation for every hue? Well, that’s a lot of colour to consider for anyone (hence our vast selection of colours!)

Colour Wheel

Take a look at a section from our colour range to see the subtle variations involved.

With a little thought we can select colours that work in your interior, and together on your carpet, using these further colour ‘rules’:

Harmonious Colours

Firstly, a colour scheme based on those found in nature, is the most ‘natural’ one, obviously. Colours such as red/brown/green/yellow are all harmonious colours and any of these, in whatever hue, should sit well together.

Colour Wheel

Complementary Colours

Colours that are positioned directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. Think blue/orange or red/green. You can then veer off to the left or right of either of these for example, turquoise/brown or turquoise/orange.

Analogue Colours

Another colour scheme can be based on analogue colours, which are colours that sit side by side on a colour wheel. Think red/purple-red/purple as similarly used in our PLECTRUMS carpet (detail illustrated below).

PLECTRUMS detail

Again this principle can be applied to colours from the same palette such as dark to light in shades of green, see FOREST MOSAIC or the grading in TORN BETWEEN design (detail illustrated).

TORN BETWEEN detail

Texture

Like I said, it’s not just about the quantity of colour used. Sometimes harmony is created by not using much colour at all.

Take a look at our SUHAILAH carpet (detail illustrated).

SUHAILAH detail

By only using one colour, the carpet is beautifully harmonised simply by the contrast of silk against the wool background. Perfect for an interior where enough colour might already exist.’