It's one thing seeing a new collection launched by a company that champions great design and another altogether when it's associated with someone you actually know. So imagine my surprise when scrolling through my Twitter feed I came across this picture.
Before I even looked at what was written, I recognised the wild hair do with the signature tie back in the middle. "Wait, isn't that Kate...
Watson-Smyth. Yes indeed. The top interior design blogger behind Mad About the House, according to Vuelio for 2015 and 2016, author of 'Shades of Grey' (in Wall Street Journal's top 5 list of interiors books to gift this Christmas), winner of an AMARA Interior Blog Award for Best Design Inspiration blog and the list goes on. And on.
Watson-Smyth is a pleasure to talk to and very very funny - a happy person inside - so I was extremely pleased with her news and obviously ran to grab an expert comment while introducing you to this new line, which is out now, available here.
Kate tell me about the concept for this collection, what inspired you?
KWS: I felt that navy blue was a colour that was about to come through very strongly and I wanted to pair it with brass as that’s a such a luxurious combination. I don’t think navy has quite arrived yet – people who work in the business have been seeing it for a long time but it takes longer to filter through than, say, fashion.
It’s coming though… I wanted to have a capsule collection that would work together to create a complete feeling or where the individual pieces could be mixed and matched to work with existing items in peoples’ homes.
So the idea was that you could sit on the chair with your feet on a floor cushion and have your laptop on the table – or a magazine and a cup of coffee – but you could also lie on the floor and have a light to read by.
So, although the collection is called Made About the House, the feeling is very much one of Saturday afternoon Sunday morning – those moments when you might have a bit of time and space just for yourself.
Did you try to address any specific needs through the chair design? I note the lack of cushions, which I personally love!
KWS: I like the lack of cushions too but I am not a chair designer and I worked with MADE to choose one of their chairs from the existing collection that would be covered in a new colour especially for this edit.
It’s quite a traditional chair but it’s also small so it will fit into lots of spaces. So many chairs are huge and that rules them out for a lot of people. This is a sitting, chatting chair as well as a comfortable reading chair.
And what about the table? How does this design tick both the form and function boxes?
KWS: I drew the table in my notebook and took it to my first meeting with MADE not really expecting that they would be interested in actually making it. At the time – two years ago – I hadn’t really seen any table lamps like this but there are a few coming through now.
I wanted the lamp to curve over the table so that it would be more like a task light but with the gold inside the lampshade it is also quite opulent and works as an ambient light too. I didn’t want the light to be too tall – I like that it sort of peeks over your shoulder when you are sitting in the chair. I hope it ticks both form and function – I believe they are both equally important.
How did your choose your colours and is 2017 the year we see blue take over grey?
KWS - The colours just felt right. I work very much according to instinct and I never even considered that it wouldn’t be navy and brass. I don’t think navy will take over from grey – certainly not next year anyway.
Grey is here to stay and is now a classic – partly because there are so many shades that there is one that is right for everyone. However, navy works beautifully with grey and I think that’s a combination that we will start to see a lot more of next year.
What is "urban glamour" for you?
KWS - Urban Glamour is the idea of luxurious materials – brass, velvet, marble etc but given a little twist to give it a more edge. That is why the velvet cushions were designed to look like someone had just painted over them with random brush strokes. The table light is a piece that isn’t quite traditional but the chair, which is, fits with them both.
Reading nook - we have swooned over your library space for a very long time. Whats is currently on your reading list?
KWS: My reading list is long and varied. I recently finished the entire Donna Leon series about Detective Brunetti which is set in Venice. It was less about the thriller and more about the wonderful descriptions of the city they live in, the food they eat together and his marriage and teenage children. I was bereft when I finished them – there are about 25 of them I think.
I am about to start Alexandra Schulman book about Vogue and I love the historical novels of Phillippa Gregory and read those as soon as they come out. I’m also keen on Christobel Kent’s novels set in Florence – again it’s all about the city and the characters rather than the crime and I do love a new Jilly Cooper and all of Robert Harris. I am never not reading a book.
You will have noticed that the collection also included a black (charcoal) carpet. Though this may seem plain at first sight but it actually fuses contrasting textured blocks to create a dark, urban opulence. Made in India by expert manufacturers it's soft and silky underfoot.
I wondered how black fitted in the collection but then I returned to Kate's 'Shades of Grey' where I got my answer:
"I make it a rule to always include a little black in every room; this helps to anchor the space and give a little dynamic edge to a scheme".