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Livingetc had a very nice time at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour on Friday judging the Best of the Best awards for Focus/11. And from all the brilliant furniture, lighting, wallpaper, fabric, paint and tiles, we awarded Original BTC’s Hector Bibendum lamp by Terence Conran the overall winner. It was designed to celebrate Original BTC’s 21st birthday and is inspired by the Michelin Man, AKA Monsieur Bibendum. We love the company and we love this future classic light.

Our other winners were: Best Paint ‘Le Beton Circé’ collection by The Little Shop at Henry Bertrand, Best Flooring Quantum range by Wool Classics (a carpet that feels like silk but is made of cotton, Best Rug Monaco Yacht collection by Tai Ping Carpets, Best Trimming Artisanal collection by Travers at Zimmer + Rohde, Detail Curtain poles from The Bradley Collection.

Patterned wallpaper – Livia Azurro (W361/01) by Romo

Geometric wallpaper – Circus (93/6020) by Cole & Son

Floral fabric – Still Life by Sanderson

Geometric fabric – Adras by Martyn Lawrence Bullard for Schumacher at Turnell & Gigon

Woven fabric – Lisle Check by Colefax and Fowler

Tile – Zigzag’ tile from the Paccha collection by Ann Sacks

Upholstered furniture – Guscioalto chair by Flexform

Furniture (joint winners) – Pencil Leg console by J.Robert Scott and the Amalfi bath by Victoria + Albert

Lighting – Savona floor lamp by  Vaughan

We love Sonya Winner‘s rugs – graphic, exciting and splendidly colourful. We’ll tell her so in person tomorrow at Tent London, but until then, let’s find out all about her wonderful world of tufts and knots… 

When did you know that you wanted to design? I knew that I wanted to work with my creativity from a very early age, but it wasn’t until I did a foundation course at Chelsea School of Art that I really understood what design was all about. I had some inspirational teachers and I very quickly realised that for me designing was the most interesting and satisfying way to express my creativity. There is something really exciting about creating something that people respond positively to and chose to incorporate into their lives.

What are you most proud of in your work? I feel happiest about designing when I get genuine positive feedback. When a client loves one of my designs that they understand what I was trying to create. One of my clients recently sent me a text when she received her rug saying: ‘Love it love it love it – the room is alive’. That did make me feel proud!

What kind of material do you think has great possibilities? I’m fascinated by exploring the design possibilities of knotting and tufting with wool. There are so many ways to create original pieces working with texture, pile height, weaving techniques, wool quality and shape – it’s very exciting.

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Kitty And Dude is ceramicist Cosima Sempill and is based in Edinburgh at Coburg House Art Studios. All pieces are designed by Cosima, and majority of them are handmade by her in studio in Edinburgh. Her designs have a feeling of nostalgia and sentimentality, and are a little tongue-in-cheek. She’ll be showcasing new designs for Kitty & Dude’s tableware range at Tent London. But until then, she tells us all about her love of design and her hatred of mushrooms.

When did you know that you wanted to design? From a very early age. There was no discussion about University, it was straight off to Art School and then straight into making for me. Creativity/self employment has always run in the family. My Mother ran her own successful interiors business for many years, so majority of weekends where filled with renovating furniture or creating mood boards. She is a tour-de-force and a great source of inspiration and support.

What are you most proud of in your work? My ability to combine contrasting ideas. I design products that focus on delighting both the aesthetic and intellectual senses. I also love seeing peoples reaction to the products, the works aims to ignite feeling of nostalgia and sentimentality, so it’s fantastic when people immediately engage with the products.

What kind of material do you think has great possibilities? I think that there is a plethora of possibilities with digital decals. The freedom they give to ceramicists who want to adorn the surfaces of their work is endless. Translating your designs, drawings or photographs directly onto the clay body is an exciting process and the quality of the decals just keeps getting better.

Which product would you redesign if you could? Hmmm, quite a tricky one…. not sure I’m quite arrogant enough to redesign someone else’s work but I do think that Mushrooms should be banned.

Which designer has inspired your work? Eric Ravilious is a huge inspiration to me. I adore his etchings and I wish I had designed his collection of Commemorative mugs that he created for Wedgewood in 1939. A wonderfully modern collaboration at the time; it was brimming with optimism and unashamed forward thinking. Bravery like that symbolises what I think is great about British design.

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Where some folks see scrap wood, metal or rusty old bike parts, The Rag and Bone Man sees a whole world of potential. He finds those unloved bits of something else and transforms them into wonderfully evocative Art Deco/Machine Age-inspired lighting, each one unique. He’ll be at Tent London, but luckily enough for us, he’s here on our blog first…

When did you know that you wanted to design? I grew up in a family of makers, so design was definitely in my genes, however The Rag and Bone Man was gradually built on my love of metal and that mainly came from tinkering with bikes when I was younger.

What are you most proud of in your work? My proudest moments are when I have completed a new piece. Each item is unique and fitted with a small metal plaque, which includes the date of completion and individual serial numbers for everything I make.


What kind of material do you think has great possibilities? I like to think that any material has potential, especially scrap! It’s where I get my inspiration. Looking at the way objects or component parts are originally designed and applying new ideas and functions to them.

Which product would you redesign if you could? In a sense each of my designs is a redesign of the scrap parts that I source. I regularly use components from old Push and Motorbikes in my lamps which has given me a new way of looking at bike design as a whole but ultimately I want keep on pushing my lamp and furniture designs further and further.

Which designer has inspired your work? I am inspired by urban environments and love living and working in London. The Lloyds building in the City of London designed by Architect Richard Rogers inspires me every time I see it. I love the way he externalized all of the fundamental elements of the building such as the lifts and the staircases.

What designers you know should we watch out for? I really love the wooden Washi Tables designed and made by Adam Connolly and Matt Copeland with Family Tree London. I believe they are also exhibiting a new series of tables this year at Tent London.

What are you looking forward to about being at Tent? Launching The Rag and Bone Man – it’s the first time I have had a stand and am looking forward to meeting other designers, the public and anyone who would like to know more about what I do.

What’s your next grand plan? I would be really interested to start collaborating more with interior designers on case by case projects, making lighting, furniture and fittings. I love to personalize the pieces I make so fabricating for individual clients would be a natural addition to making the lamps.

What do you get up when not being a brilliant, cutting-edge designer? Describe your perfect day off… I have too many bicycles so I would probably get out of the studio and discover a new part of London on two wheels.

Tell us a secret. Ornamental Conifer

We’ve loved Frazier & Wing‘s charming paper mobiles since we first clapped eyes on them. And now, stone the crows, they have produced some even happier versions. Perfect for a day in London which can best be described in my native Scottish as ‘dreich’. Get thee shipped.

Hungarian designers Attila F Kovacs and Zsuzsa Megyesi joined forces in 2009 to create the rather brilliant A+Z Design, they’ll be launching their completely charming new Pillhead lamps at Tent London in a couple of weeks, but first, they’ve popped by to talk passion for design, never taking a day off and Zsuzsa’s irrepressible love of flamenco.

When did you know that you wanted to design? (Atilla) When I received a nice serviette from my uncle from LA with a hyper-modern living room image on it. I was amazed, and asked my mother, ‘who does such a great thing?’ and she said the architect and the designer, so I decided to be architect and designer at age of 12. (Z) First as little child in my grandfather’s carpenter’s workshop, second when I met Attila.

What are you most proud of in your work? (A) To create something unique which has never existed before,  like I did with the Hungarian House of Terror museum facade [see it after the leap], to create a shield, an overhanging roof with cut out letters to project the word TERROR on to the facade by the sun. When the sun hits it just right, the cutout in the metal overhang casts a sobering reminder of the building’s history upon its facade. Design is like an invention. (Z) That our products always have a narrative behind them, and that they speak both to your eyes and your soul.

What kind of material do you think has great possibilities? (A) I like aluminium. If you anodized it it has a deepness on the surface. It used to be called ‘Clay Silver’ and in our history in Fifties in my childhood it was called ‘Hungarian Silver’, it can be strong or soft, flexible and it has a light weight. (Z) I prefer warm materials. I see great potential in new materials such as newspaper, liquid wood and recycled textile.

Which product would you redesign if you could? (A) Citroen SM/CX (Z) Lexon Tykho Rubber Radio.

Which designer has inspired your work? (A) Prouve, Eames (both of them), Breuer (we come from the same home town, Pecs), Opron (designer of Citroen SM/CX) (Z) Eames, Nelson, Saarinen, Eva Zeisel, Stuart Haygarth.

What are you looking forward to about being at Tent? It is a gateway from a former Eastern country to show your capability and talent to the world, and it is a great fun to spread all around the world with the help of the Tent PR and PR- Girl. If we can do some business that’s fine, but passion is first, and also we are looking for a manufacturer. It’s great to inspire and get inspired by like minded people.

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Keep an eye on Oka’s website, for soon all its autumn/winter things will be there for the clicking.

Room39 is a London-based design brand and online shop owned by lingerie designer Petra Grmek-Green, and it brings together an eclectic mix of luxury textiles and artisan furniture and accessories, sourced from around the world. All of which are ‘heirlooms for the future’. The shop will be showing its delightful wares at Tent London in a couple of weeks, but until then, Petra is going to tell us about loving design, the Wizard of Oz and alternative realities… 

When did you know that you wanted to design? I have a vague memory of wanting to be a creative from a very early age, not that I was particularly artistic as a child. I didn’t draw or paint much but I did like to fantasise – imagining alternative realities (lies as others would call them) and I did once make quite an elaborate palace out of several cardboard boxes for a stray cat. The cat didn’t like it, though. In short, I was called strange a lot as a child and than I heard artists are strange, so I put two and two together and stuck with it.

What are you most proud of in your work? I never asked myself this question, because I don’t really look back. What I’ve done, whom I’ve been and what I’ve achieved in the past is in my mind never as good as what is yet to come. But saying that, I do feel very proud when someone says they’ve been inspired by my work or that they enjoy working with me.

What kind of material do you think has great possibilities? I’m currently working a lot with wool felt and I’m still excited by it and its variety of applications. I think linen and hemp for their sustainability and centuries-long manufacturing tradition in Europe, are going to be more prominent in our linen cupboards. In more broader terms creating commodities out of waste is the future.

Which product would you redesign if you could? If I could? Imagination knows no limitations. I don’t like the car shape of the moment, they look like eggs on wheels. I crave for a more rectangular shape, more car-like such as a child would draw.

Which designer has inspired your work? Not any designer in particular but rather certain objects, buildings, technologies even, like the womb chair by Eero Saarinen, Centre Pompidou in Paris , the saturated palette of the 1939 Wizard of Oz film, old-fashioned butchers shops to name but the first few that spring to mind. I do however find myself lusting after most of the works from the Bouroullec brothers.

What designers you know should we watch out for? Reinhard Dienes from Germany, Nicola Staubli from Switzerland, Max Frommeld, Supafrank and Jonna Saarinen from London, RIJADA from Latvia, Dokter and Misses from South Africa, Ana Kras from Serbia and my Slovenian compatriot Nika Zupanc.

What are you looking forward to about being at Tent London? Put my self and my work forward and see what happens.

What’s your next grand plan? Relocate into my new studio and get myself organised- harder than it sounds.

What do you get up when not being a brilliant, cutting-edge designer? Describe your perfect day off… Well, my perfect day would be spent being a brilliant cutting-edge designer, with my five-year-old quietly occupied by some instructive activity, my 15-month old serenely playing with something other than a electric apparatus and my husband gently playing his violin in the background.

Tell us a secret… I never stopped imagining alternative realities.

As the team behind Livingetc, the UK’s leading magazine for modern interiors, we’re always out and about, scouting for inspiration. And when we see something that makes our design minds flutter with joy, we’ll share it with you here. To purchase the digital version of the magazine, click here.

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