Stars, selfies, snubs, and L.A. showers…okay who stayed up all night to watch the Oscars on Sunday? Eddie, Julianne, Ida and the biggest winner Birdman won the chance to preen.
Refill your glasses; get your Smoked Salmon Oscar Matzo and Peanut Butter Strawberry Jelly Lollipops ready (yes, really the Oscars had nearly 50 tapas-style dishes) as the Homes & Gardens’ Designer Awards takes place on Wednesday 25 February at the British Museum. Forget film and red-carpet showboating, we are talking domestic design that enriches everyday life. These awards celebrate those who have succeeded in creating pivotal interior pieces. The shortlist can be viewed online and one nomination in the ‘ Use of Materials’ category is Tom Housden’s Updown pendant for the Hand & Eye Studio.
The Updown pendant combines glazed ceramic and matt opal glass designed to provide a focused down light and an ambient up light from one lamp. The use of hand made ceramic available in three colours ensures this deceptively simple lamp also looks pretty fabulous when not illuminated.
Hand & Eye Studio is a London based product design studio specializing in lighting. Founded by Tom Housden in 2011, the studio creates a selection of carefully crafted products out of a range of materials such as terracotta, glass, timber, earthenware and cast aluminium. Products are born out of a love for making and experimenting with materials and process.
Close involvement in the production process underpins all designs, allowing scope for experimentation that results in an intimate understanding of the objects’ material and character. ‘In our studio we play with all of our ideas and then commit to our designs by manufacturing them in collaboration with small British and European manufacturers, all of whom are masters of their craft.’
And Tom’s speech, just in case…
'We are genuinely interested in experimenting with materials and the process of making objects. This takes time and effort but we think it pays off – we hope that by getting our hands dirty the final products end up being both beautiful and functional with subtle attention to detail.’
Apparently in hard times we need to be comforted by round, curvaceous shapes. But as the market looks upwards, shapely curves are still very much in vogue. However, this voluptuous aesthetic is developing into a much more sophisticated almost sculptural silhouette and this goes hand in hand with the trend in interior decoration for a softer form of design.
There are names to match this look –Roche Bobois’s Bubble sofa, Morosos’s Love Me Tender and Ochre’s evocative Eternal Dreamer sofa, which makes me feel like falling into a bed of clouds and never waking up.
Ochre captures the new curved trend with its original yet welcoming take on the modern, modular sofa that offers curved, corner and ottomans sections. It is the ultimate in comfort with deep feather and down filled seats, deeply upholstered in luxuriously tactile fabrics.
The cushioned comfort of buttoned-back upholstered is also inviting and works perfectly with killer curves. This sweeping sofa with the curved Moon Pebble table and group of convex mirrors shows off this season’s go-to-shape beautifully. It is ahead of the curve, speaks eloquently of comfort and exudes understated elegance.
Now I am not suggesting that a full English is to everyone’s decorating palette but parts are very tempting and difficult to resist. Katrina Burroughs wrote on this very topic in the Sunday Times Homes last weekend and described English country-house style as;
‘Warm and mellow, chaotic and off-the –scale uncool, loved equally by owners of historic homes and those in new urban development. And like our rain transport issues and class system, it is never going to go away.’
I also think that this look needs a good bone structure to begin with. If you’re not blessed with chiselled features and a Georgian pile then it’s off to the auction houses – a bit of wear and tear is part and parcel of English country-house style.
You can still take a house back to its roots or invest in the beautiful basics – relaying stone or wooden floors, replacing or reproducing cornicing, changing doors and frames. After which you can fill the rooms with lamps and rugs, antiques and a mix of patterned textiles and colour to create comfortable rooms that look as though they have evolved over time and are welcoming.
I have learnt a lot from working with the likes of Ben Pentreath, Max Rollitt and Will Fisher. All classicists at heart, but each one with their quite brilliant individual interpretation of English decoration and it all seems so effortless, which is actually the whole point. If my numbers ever came up I would want them all.
For Max Rollitt (image above) it is all about creating joyful homes that have wit, integrity and reflect the architecture and history of the house whilst keeping a light touch.
Admirer Michael Smith summed up Will Fisher’s style well saying says he’s 'someone whose aesthetic is so unbelievably English with an eye for patina and detail but put together in a clean fresh way.’
In his book English Decoration, Ben Pentreath says; ‘the most magical – and, of course, elusive - constituent of English decoration is gentle, slow-roasted time.’
‘The unstudied way in which we have in an instant achieved both comfort and cosiness, grandeur and simplicity, sense and sensibility; in short a place the English can call home.’
English Decoration is available from Pentreath & Hall