Last night I made my way down some very familiar streets from Sloane Square to Chelsea Wharf to attend a design seminar hosted by Sofa.com. As my taxi was caught in a jam, just before Albert Bridge, I was suddenly a little nostalgic of the days when - on maternity leave - I would push my red Bugaboo along the Thames from the Victorian houses in Sands End, past Chelsea Harbour, all the way to Battersea Park and back (with a tiny stop at Le Pain Quotidienne for bread and spreads).
But my little one is little no more and my taxi arrived soon, if a little late, at my destination.
Making my way towards the Sofa.com HQ you can imagine my surprise and delight when I passed the other beautiful shop, that of Pooky Lights. What a coincidence, I thought to myself, only to remember a few seconds later that Pooky Lights are owned by Sofa.com and it therefore made sense that they would be located under the same roof. The shop was filled with beautiful killim rugs in rich red colours and the shades in deep turquoises, vibrant pinks and playful yellows filled the floor. The sun was setting and the lights were dimmed, this shop was a cave of wonders!
Quick up to the third floor, sign in and entered the spectacular room of this warehouse conversion which was open plan and completely packed with design enthusiasts who came to hear from the very best on how to create Timeless Style in the design of their homes. Champagne in hand, I found a great spot so I could see the action on the projector and the speakers and started taking notes like a manic.
The seminar aimed at helping us understand how to create a home that is transitional throughout seasons and years, the speakers "guiding us through what timeless design means to them, how they choose to express it in their work, and providing handy tips and tricks for creating a home that transcends seasons and outlives trends".
First up (and already going 80mph when I settled down) was Emma Mawston, Head of Design for Liberty Art Fabrics Interiors. Emma has an enviable access to Liberty's print archives and is heading the re-launch of some of Liberty’s most renowned archive patterns, alongside designing fresh new collections. Now, it's a mystery to me why Mawston does not seem to have an Instagram account. Can you imagine what her IG would look like!!? * sigh * Hopefully, she will read this and realise that we want to see what she sees every day!
Emma Mawston showing all prints
Liberty's hand-drawn prints (Mawston)
Liberty's hand-drawn prints (Mawston)
Mawston's passion for textiles and Liberty's of London, her employer for more than 2 decades (!) is infectious. She run through her presentation wanting to show us as much as possible in the little time she had.
"Mawston's passion for textiles and Liberty's of London is infectious"
She got particularly excited when she showed us the collection "Secret Garden" and said that Liberty's Secret Garden is its own archive. Showing a photo of jeffery rose tree, she describes how she was drawing a pattern and could not find the book to draw a robin and then a robin appeared on her window and that's how she drew it on the pattern. True story!
Next, Mike Howes, Commercial Director of Paint by Conran talked us through putting together a wonderful eclectic collection - the 96-colour palette of the brand - and explained what sets them apart from other brands that offer equally flat colour with strong pigmentation (let's not name names): their paint is washable. He says. I have not yet tested that but would love too (not that I have rason to doubt the claim, after all the work with factories that manufacture paint for tanks. They must have something extra up their sleeves!).
Howes also talked us through how palettes can contrast and complement each other to create a home that will look fresh, inspiring and uplifting for years to come. Here are a few of the palettes I picked up on the projector.
Apparently, their burnt orange colour is good for digestion. *raises eyebrow *
Their Dandelion yellow adds real humour, makes you smile. Yellow is generally, according to Howes, controversial, different. But he insists that it's good to have fun with colour without it being "offensive" or going "off piste".
Top tip: When using strong colours, like cornflower blue, use accents in the room of the same colour to balance it out.
The speaches were concluded with Nina Campbell.
Like, THE Nina Campbell? I am sorry, this is design royalty, I have every right to still feel at awe 24hours later (thank you Sofa.com).
I felt mesmerised by this woman. A wonderful storyteller, both funny and approachable, she is, in my mind, the dream guest to have for dinner. She could tell you hundreds of stories from her design journeys to the four corners. There was the one where Nina needs to source an elephant statue for New York home owner and travels to India. There she meets up with antique dealer she knows and explains what she's after. The dealer points her to the entrance of the shop where an elephant is standing but is unfortunately 'sold' to someone else.
"But Nina, I have promised this elephant (statue) to X."
"Darling, HE has a REAL elephant. Besides, you need money. And I have money."
You can't argue with that. Here's the elephant in question in its new home.
Or the one where the owner of a newly designed home calls her to say they had they're first spill (of wine) on the carpet. But it had come out. But Nina is not content. She would have prefered for the carpet to have stained and for the owner to 'get over it' so he could relax and enjoy his new home.
Have a spill and get over it!
Or how about the one where she hired an artist to re-create a malachite stone effect on walls but it was proving extremelly difficult. "So I solved the problem, I created a marble effect wallpaper instead".
Kershaw wallpaper by Nina Campbell
While lots of styles have come into fashion over the recent years, most recently the monochrome Scandinavian interiors which seem to be invading British homes, the timeless English style, comfortable, inviting and luxurious in both colours and fabrics that Campbell delivers so effortlessly is real close to my heart.
The event was a huge success. I would highly recommend anyone who thinks of joining sofa.com 's style seminars to do so, great value and you get to meet speakers like the above!
Here are a few more photos from the event, hope you will enjoy! You can see more on my Instagram . And someone please tell Mrs Mawston to catch up with IG too. For the love of fabrics!