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Interiors Blog 2013

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Jane Price-Stephens - Interior designer Rob Scarlett, Designer  Barbara Chandler, Design writer  Jennifer Jones, Textile designer

Jane Price-Stephens
Interior designer

Rob Scarlett

Barbara Chandler
Design writer
Jennifer Jones
Textile designer


Contract Spaces with Out of the Dark & Friends
30 Jan 2014

One of the talking points at this year’s Interiors UK was a collaboration that brought together social enterprise Out of the Dark and four UK-based designers, showing how everyday living spaces can be clever, practical and beautiful – without costing the world.

Jay and Jade Blades and their High Wycombe-based team of furniture restorers teamed up with Naomi Cleaver, Lori Pinkerton-Rolet of Park Grove Design, Dtwo and Deadgood to create custom furniture for four unique room sets – student accommodation, assisted living, a hotel room and an office boardroom. For Out of the Dark, it was a chance to showcase their work in a variety of contexts, as well as develop their ideas with some top design talents. 

out of the dark naomi cleaver room student accommodation interior design

Geometric fabrics from Parris Wakefield Additions gave Cleaver’s student studio a striking, almost psychedelic vibe and contrasted nicely with the otherwise muted tones and timber of the room set.

out of the dark dtwo hotel room interior design

Dtwo’s hotel room used salvaged chairs in powder blue to create an intriguing tree-like structure – a case of the furniture going back to its roots!

out of the dark park grove lori pinkerton rolet room assisted living inclusive design interior

Pinkerton-Rolet’s inclusive living room set had a fun retro feel. Whereas interior design for people with disabilities or dementia can tend to be utilitarian and austere, this one seemed genuinely welcoming and lived-in.

out of the dark deadgood boardroom interior design

Deadgood’s boardroom, according to the company’s co-director Dan Ziglam, was designed to “give upcycling a more glamorous, luxurious feel”. Decked out in moody black with yellow and gold accents, it gave a more sleek, contemporary feel to Out of the Dark’s restored vintage pieces.  

See more pics and happenings from Interiors UK 2014 on our events highlights page... and discover more from Out of the Dark when they join us in London at the May Design Series from 18-20 May!  

Design innovation with the INTERIORS UK Best New Product awards
29 Jan 2014

With this year’s show bringing newness to the forefront, we celebrated new and innovative design with the Interiors UK Best New Product awards.

Judges Alec Saville-Brown, Sherry Roberts, Jonnny Westbrooke and our very own Ola Bednarczuk spent the first day of the show scouring the exhibitors’ stands for their ‘New’ tagged products, and then had the difficult task of choosing only 3 winners from the entire show floor. With so many fantastic new products on show, they certainly had a hard decision to make.

On Monday the 20th, after much deliberation, we set out with the judges to present the lucky winners with their awards.

And the winners of Best New Product 2014 were...

Stack by Radiance Furniture



Automated Dining by Skovby



V’s Rocker by Valentina  



Cream of the Crop: New Design Britain 2014
27 Jan 2014

The judges have spoken! The winners of the 2014 edition of New Design Britain were announced at Interiors UK on Monday 20 January, with four very deserving young designers awarded prizes in this prestigious long-running event.

The panel – consisting of designer and first-ever New Design Britain winner, Rob Scarlett; Furniture Buyer for Heal’s, Elaine Boyle; the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers’ Anthony Rayworth; ACID CEO, Dids MacDonald, and Denise Phillips, Wool, Surface & Textiles Buyer for John Lewis – made their selections based on the design, style and commercial potential of the shortlisted products.

Taking out the furniture category was Charlotte Millett with her ‘Burst’ easy chair. The chair’s two-tone upholstered foam structure is twisted and held together with a belt, creating the illusion that it will burst apart at any moment.

Burst by Charlotte Millett 
Burst easy chair by Charlotte Millett

Charlotte Millett and Tony Scott
Charlotte Millett and Tony Scott, Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers

Bilge Nur Saltik’s Share.Food containers won the Furnishing Accessories categories. Her ceramic vessels are designed to playfully encourage sharing and conversation around a dinner table as they teeter and balance to and fro. Saltik was also awarded the People’s Choice award, where her entry received the most public votes via social media.

Share Food by Bilge Nur Saltik
Share.Food by Bilge Nur Saltik

Bilge Nur Saltik and Andy Bishop
Bilge Nur Saltik and UBM Creative Director, Andy Bishop

Chloe Atkins’ Hunger Games textile collection won the Fabrics category. Inspired by the book and film series of the same name, Atkins’ work contains lovely hand-drawn elements which impressed the judges.

Hunger Games by Chloe Atkins
Hunger Games by Chloe Atkins

Chloe Atkins and Dids MacDonald
Chloe Atkins (R) with ACID CEO, Dids MacDonald

First prize in the Surfaces category went to Seema Shah for her Wooden Tiles collection, which highlights the beauty of natural materials through various intriguing patterns.

Wooden Tiles by Seema Shah
Wooden Tiles by Seema Shah

Dids MacDonald and Seema Shah
Seema Shah (R) and Dids MacDonald

The Interiors UK experience was a valuable one for both the winners and the other 12 shortlisted nominees, who showcased their work on the New Design Britain stand in Hall 2 to an excellent response from visitors.

“It was lovely to see people liking my work,” said Atkins of her time at the show. “They’ve actually been asking me if I’ve sent my fabrics to Liberty and things like that. I’ve never really had the confidence [to do so] so this might really push me to have confidence in my work and develop it further. It’s what I love to do and hopefully this is a good step forward!”

Saltik also commented on the enthusiastic response to the New Design Britain display at the show. “We received lots of attention; it was great to meet people here and get retailers’ and manufacturers’ attention,” she said. “It was crowded, and to get reactions from people was new and exciting for us.”

Each of the winners will now receive an industry placement, where they can further hone their skills and forge contacts within the design community. Saltik will also receive a £250 prize for her People's Choice Award, courtesy of the lovely folk at Ercol

A market report: Reasons to be cheerful
14 Jan 2014

Market and economic indicators suggest a corner was turned in 2013; something companies in the residential furnishings sector can build on this year.

A recent report from Furnishing Report brings us good news - furniture retail sales in November 2013 recorded their best year-on-year sales growth since June 2012, and things are looking positive for the year ahead.

The report states a good economy and a strong housing market are two factors that combined provide the ingredients for a buoyant residential furnishings market. Even if people are not moving, rising prices gives people the confidence and the tools - by taking out equity - to spend on their homes. As a result, seasonally adjusted furniture and lighting retail sales volumes climbed by 9.1 per cent compared to the same month last year. 

Read the full report here.

A sneak peek at INTERIORS UK 2014
07 Jan 2014

With less than two weeks to go until INTERIORS UK 2014 opens its doors at the NEC, excitement is definitely building around this much anticipated industry event. The show preview has been released, and has some fantastic insights into the show plans of some of the inspiring exhibitors who will be appearing at this year’s show.

From lighting to beds, vases to chairs, this year the INTERIORS UK exhibitors plan to go all out, and are bringing some exciting brand new products to the show floor.

Below is a sneak peek at some of the fresh new products from a selection of exhibitors which will be at this year’s show, why not take a few minutes to browse through the products, and  get even more excited about INTERIORS UK 2014...we can’t wait to see you there!

Hall 1 – Design Elegance & Fabric Pavilion


After last year’s successful show, Ercol, popular for their crafted furniture and loving design ethic that goes in to each and every piece, will be launching the new Romana dining collection.


g plan

G Plan, noted for their skill of producing handcrafted upholstery since 1898 launch a new addition to their popular Hemingway Design, The Fifty Nine in Leather, blending timeless design with a modern twist.


parker knoll

Firm-favourites Parker Knoll make a return to the show showcasing their popular new Seattle range. They’ll also be unveiling not one but two brand new ranges with additions to their Classic collection.


ian mankin

‘Mono’ is British manufacturer Ian Mankin’s first printed collection. The six designs’ names take inspiration from London Underground’s District Line. 

Hall 2 – Contemporary Design

hitch mylius

First-time exhibitors Hitch Mylius will present their award-winning designs at the show. Clean lines, strong shapes and bold colours are the calling card of the British furniture manufacturer.



New to the 2014 show, beautiful Italian brand Egoitaliano, will treat visitors to their eye-catching iconic and contemporary designs. The Alice Sofa will make its debut in the UK.


stil furniture

Stylish Swedish brand Stil-Furniture will launch a brand new British designed range at the show. Ian Cull has created a new range of contemporary occasional furniture that melds functionality, style and design

Hall 3 – Decor


Deknudt Decora will uncover the Nick Silver Mirror with its edgy design and reflective silver frame ideal for modern and classic home environments.


gallery direct

Returning for their 18th will be longstanding favourites Gallery Direct. Who are set to launch British designed sofas and chairs, console tables and occasional furniture ranges at the show.



Bitten London is a wonderland of statement homewares hand picked from around the world, as well as exclusive designs created by their own design team.

Hall 3 - Lighting

dar lighting

Making a welcome return to the show Dar Lighting will be exhibiting with an exquisite selection of pieces, including Atticus.


clifton lighting

Distributor of the world’s leading lighting brands, Clifton Lighting, has announced that INTERIORS UK will see the launch of two new modular ranges from Venetian brand Metallux.



Renowned Spanish porcelain brand Lladro will be bringing their new Belle de Nuit lighting range of table, wall lamps, and chandeliers.

Hall 4/5 – Living & lifestyle

furniture link

Launching at this year’s show, Nico from Furniture Link is a refreshing range of steel framed, contemporary chairs.


serene furnishings

Plenty of fresh additions to the Serene furnishings portfolio look set to greet visitors to INTERIORS UK, where Serene will be exhibiting on a beautifully presented stand.



Rowico is the UK arm of Scandinavia’s largest furniture wholesale business, and plans for 2014 include the introduction of  a number of  “City Living” ranges with industrial and retro influences.

The full event preview can be seen over on our Show News page

Buy In-Store, Buy Hand-made
16 Dec 2013

At a time when shoppers have the retail world at their fingertips, it seems it’s still hard to beat the experience of visiting and browsing in a store.

Recent survey findings published in NBC International’s The Curve Report suggest that, in many instances, Generations X and Y prefer the personal element of traditional retail to the convenience of shopping online.

According to the report, more than 90% of sales still happen in physical stores, with 71% of respondents saying they’d rather shop in a store than online. A surprising 84% said they prefer getting face-to-face help. In their pursuit of a personal in-store experience, shoppers are also increasingly turning to smaller, local retailers that are able to provide a more unique service and product.

This puts small retailers in a prime position to benefit from the more personal connection they are able to create with their shoppers – their main advantage over larger companies who are able to provide a larger product offering and more new items.

“High street stores such as Zara and Top Shop have constant newness; for stores selling brands that may have two collections a year and some small transitional ranges, this presents a challenge,” said Richard Vickery, Manager of Harvey Nichols, Birmingham. “We all face similar challenges in that the customer expects to see newness much more often. A small retailer will not be able to compete on range or newness, but their advantage is their ability to have fantastic relationships with their customers.”

The Curve Report also discovered a surge of interest in artisan products, showing that shoppers are looking for unique objects that tell a story; 78% of those surveyed said they found it important to know where a product was made and who made it. 81% said that if given a choice between buying from another person or a large company, they would choose the former; 64% said they would be willing to pay 25% more for a product made by an artisan than a large brand – good news for craftsmen like Nicholas Langan of Journeyman Furniture, who we spoke to earlier this year ahead of his brand’s appearance as part of our Designermakers showcase at Interiors UK.

“Most handcrafted furniture designs have an interesting back story about the designer/maker, the design itself and the materials,” Langan said. “I think this is becoming more important to everyone, to know the provenance of a piece, particularly if a customer commissions a piece from scratch.”

Learn more about harnessing the potential of a retail space with the Interiors UK seminar programme, and discover the talents of some of the UK’s best artisans at our Designer Makers showcase from 19-22 January 2014

Designing for all: Park Grove Design
06 Dec 2013

In a world with a rapidly ageing population and a large number of people with disabilities, it makes social and sustainable sense for design to meet the needs of as many as possible. So it’s encouraging to see designers embrace an inclusive approach, creating spaces for the broadest spectrum of people.

care home design

Royal Star & Garter, Surbiton, by Park Grove

Interior designer Lori Pinkerton-Rolet was struck by the terrible state of design in many care homes and set out to find a reason for this worrying tendency. After ten years of self-directed research and four years volunteering for the management committee of a local care home, she decided to attempt to tackle the intrinsic problems in care home design. Now, her firm Park Grove specialises in design for care and retirement homes, alongside its portfolio of high-end residential and boutique hotels – though Lori is quick to point out that designing for each of these sectors is not so different.

park grove

Audley Retirement Village, Binswood, by Park Grove

A care home, she says, “should look like a property that you or I would want to live in and invite guests to. Inclusive design is not focused on one particular issue – age, disability, whether or not you’re in a wheelchair, whether you can see or not. The idea of inclusive design is that there are things we can do within ‘normal’ design schemes that would work better for everyone.”


Royal Star & Garter, Surbiton, by Park Grove

Simple design decisions such as avoiding furniture with sharp corners, incorporating highly visible easy-to-use handles and increasing contrast levels to delineate furniture and space and avoid bumps are all ways of maximising accessibility for a wide range of people. As people age, Lori says, their retinas become less responsive to light – so a dimmer switch allows light levels in a room to be easily controlled according to the amount of light needed. For many people with dementia, a strong contrast in floor colours between, for example, a bedroom and bathroom might make traversing one to the other feel like stepping into an abyss; maintaining a consistent floor colour throughout a space is a simple way of overcoming this problem.


Audley Retirement Village, Ilkley, by Park Grove

Although awareness for inclusive design is growing, suitable products can be difficult to find, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom areas. A stronger dialogue between designers, manufacturers and industry bodies is vital for inclusive design to gain more traction, Lori says, because change is vital.

“Inclusive design should be good design; it’s not just for elderly people,” she explains. “Although I have never in my life met one human being that doesn’t age, we [as an industry] design properties that we have to move out of because we get old.

park grove

Royal Star & Garter, Surbiton, by Park Grove

“The care and retirement home sector is ready for change. It’s had a lot of bad press; babyboomers putting their parents into homes are used to a much higher standard of living than a generation ago, and they don’t want to put their parents into places like this. If we’re smart about the decisions we make, it’s an area that we can greatly improve.”

Lori is now working with charitable enterprise Out of the Dark on a room setting illustrating inclusive design, as part of our contract showcase at Interiors UK. 

“Featuring inclusive design at the show is very forward-thinking,” Lori says of the project. “It will be helpful in getting a public dialogue started, and encourage other designers to start conversations.”

Register for INTERIORS UK 2014 to see Park Grove’s inclusive design room setting, in collaboration with Out of the Dark, at the show from 19-22 January.

Find out more about the other design collaborations taking place at this exciting new show feature. 


Sleep 2013: What’s New in Hotel Interiors?
28 Nov 2013

The Sleep event came to London last week, bringing together some of the world’s best interior products and thought leaders from the hospitality industry. It was an inspiring couple of days, with lots of takeaways for the residential sector as well as the hotel sector, with hotel trends increasingly influencing residential design trends and vice versa. Bathrooms, for example, are playing an increasing role in both our homes and our hotels, no longer purely functional spaces but ones to relax and indulge in.

It also seems that, like our living spaces, hotel spaces are getting smaller – but they are also working harder, with good design creating beautiful, functional spaces designed to make our stay smoother and more personal. The Sleep Concept Hotel, a competition which asked five design teams to each create a life-size junior suite for the show, was a perfect example of an effective use of space through clever, considered design.   

Sleep Concept Hotel winner

Sleep Concept Hotel winning design by Cullinan Interior and Infinite Architecture

Technology was a major focus of the show, as many hotels look to incorporate technology in various elements of their offerings – from automated check-in to better lighting control and entertainment access in the rooms. Interiors UK exhibitors Ipea showcased their Duracell-Powermat wireless charging products among other things, and brought wireless charging hotspots to the Sleep Concept Hotel bar – which was very much appreciated by those who visited. On the show floor, Hamilton Litestat inspired with a slick range of audio and lighting controls and electrical wiring accessories, which showed that innovation and good design are vital, down to the last detail!

Hamilton Litestat stand at Sleep

In terms of show design and the products on display, Sleep had much to offer. The aforementioned bar was a massive hit at the show, not just because of its special champagne tap, but because of its eye-catching design – created by Nous Design, with a beautiful sculptural installation from Soho Myriad

Sleep Concept Hotel bar         

Dar Lighting brought their David Hunt Lighting brand to the show with a lovely autumnal tree installation that illuminated their part of the floor.

Dar Lighting David Hunt Lighting Sleep event

Interiors UK exhibitors Kobe, whose furnishings and wallcoverings can be seen in high-end hospitality projects around the world, brought their new contract portfolio to the show, highlighting ‘motion’ and ‘ambience’ as the themes driving their current designs. RV Astley brought a touch of glam to their stand with a selection of products, including some stunning decorative mirrors and metallic table lights.

Kobe stand Sleep event 2013

Keep an eye out for these brands at Interiors in January – you won’t want to miss what they have in store! 

Projects, Plans, and Biscuit the dog -Visiting Out of the Dark
22 Nov 2013

With our ‘not so secret anymore’ project with our good friends Out of the Dark being announced this week, we can finally let our excitement out about the show feature, and what better way to do it than to go and see the guys to talk about the plans.

With ideas (and umbrellas) at the ready, we hopped on a train to High Wycome, the UK’s furniture making capital of old, with Dom from DTwo and Dan from Deadgood, to have the very first project meeting between Out of the Dark and the Designers.

In the run up to the show in January we will be bringing you the latest updates on this rather special project, with images, blog posts, and even some exclusive video footage of the work in progress. For now, we wanted to share with you our day at Out of the Dark HQ, with photos from our tour of the site, pictures of the planning in progress, and even an updated snap or two from Out of the Dark Dog Biscuit.

The Storage

out of the dark

The storage area is where all of the furniture which is salvaged is kept, all of it just waiting to be chosen and refurbished. On entering the Out of the Dark warehouse, the sheer volume of donations and salvaged items instantly took our breath away. The old warehouse was stacked from floor to ceiling with every kind of furniture imaginable, from chests to chairs, sideboards to wardrobes, and as far as the eye could see!

out fo the dark out of the dark       

The Workshop

out of the dark

The next stage in the furniture’s journey is to the Out of the Dark workshop, where we had the chance to see the renovation in action. With ongoing projects all over the workshop, it was clear to see the amount of care and attention which goes into each piece.

out of the dark     out fo the dark

The Showroom

out fo the dark

The Out of the Dark showroom is definitely a sight to behold. On this dull, grey and rainy day, is was a refreshing change to see all of the brightly coloured furniture in its finished state. From Russian themed sideboards, to the iconic painted chairs which Out of the Dark are famed for, each piece had a character, and a story to tell.

out fo the dark out fo the dark

The Planning

out fo the dark

With the designers and InteriorsUK team now fully excited about Out of the Dark’s work, we got straight to it and started the very first planning meeting for the show project. Of course, we can’t reveal too much, but let’s just say tea was sipped, plans were made, and some very exciting ideas were thrown around!

out of the dark

Biscuit the Out of the Dark Dog

Even Biscuit the Out of the Dark Dog, was listening in on the plans – here he is with some updated snaps!

out fo the dark out fo the dark


Keep an eye on the blog, where we will have updates on the project from us, and of course from Out of the Dark themselves!

Register for INTERIORSUK 2014 to see the finished Out of the Dark project at the show!


Retail Opportunities as Britons Buy Up Big on Homeware
12 Nov 2013

In positive news for our retail industry, Britons have been hitting the stores – and furniture and household goods are at the top of their shopping lists. So how can retailers make the most of this growing demand?

Last week, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) released encouraging figures from its October 2013 Retail Sales Monitor, showing a growth of 0.8% in like-for-like UK retail sales from this time last year and a rise of 2.6% in total retail sales from October 2012. Much of the improvement, according to Helen Dickson, BRC Director General, came thanks to a strong consumer interest in textiles and accessories for the home. Interestingly, clothing sales dropped last month for the first time since March, “suggesting that many customers prioritised leisure and home improvements over refreshing their wardrobes,” Dickson said.

The Guardian also reported recently that, thanks to a revival in the property market, demand for furniture and household goods was surging. Considering also the BBC’s report last week following a monitor by the ICAEW, which found that the UK is the fastest growing economy in the West – with an estimated economic growth of 1.3% in the last quarter of 2013, and a growth of 2.4% forecast in 2014 – the outlook for doing business in the UK is increasingly positive. 

These snippets of glad tidings bode well for an interiors retail industry that has faced immense challenges since 2008. As consumer confidence grows and customers’ pockets deepen, it would seem that there is no better time for both small and large retailers to take advantage of the growing demand for household goods. “In an age of economic uncertainty, the research shows that home really is where the heart is,” said last year’s Kingfisher European Home Report, reinforcing the notion that homeowners are prioritising spending money on improving their living spaces.  

Of course, this growing consumer demand takes place in a retail landscape that is constantly changing and challenging retailers, from department stores to independents. A significant amount of retail sales are now being made online, and much has been made of the demise of the physical store and the death of the high street. But with these challenges also come opportunities. In a recent story for The Guardian, Tim Lewis – founder of independent retail initiative MyHigh.St – quoted a report entitled A Nation of Shopkeepers which found that “70% of people are scared of losing the high street and want to see them thrive, despite years of gloom about their demise.” Lewis and his team encourage high streets to embrace the world of online to bring attention to their products through a dedicated online network, whilst reaffirming their physical retail spaces as destinations for local shopping communities. Elsewhere, designers like Anshu Srivastava of MRA Architecture and Lynda Murray of visual merchandising design firm International Visual are showing large and small retailers the power of good store design, strong branding and a unique in-store experience. Retailers who embrace change, assert their presence and provide a solid and diverse offering to their customers are the ones best placed to ride the crest and profit from the UK’s retail comeback.        

Discover more about MyHigh.St, MRA Architecture & Design, International Visual at Interiors UK as part of our 2014 seminar programme, where our line-up of industry experts will share their secrets to successful retail design and service in today's marketplace.

Opening Times for 2015

Sun 17 May 09:00 - 18:00           
Mon 18 May 09:00 - 20:00
Tues 19 May 09:00 -17:00

May Design Series 2015
will take place at ExCeL,

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