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Discover Jessica Geach’s hand-sewn baskets

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

With a passion for tactile crafts inspired by the colours in nature, Jessica Geach has created her business, Ruby Cubes, turning unbleached cotton braid into beautiful accessories and homewares
'What’s your background? Unofficially, it’s a huge hotchpotch of creative things! I’ve worked for a number of independent businesses, but made a decision back in 2015 to set up my own studio. I think textiles have always been there in the background. I love the organic nature of working as a textile artist. Tell us what you make Working with unbleached cotton rope is the mainstay of Ruby Cubes. I use it to create 3D objects, such as baskets, bowls, bags and sometimes wall art. I like to make things that are purposeful as well as aesthetically pleasing. The rope I use is wonderfully tactile. This year I’m experimenting with natural dye, testing it on the rope, and also natural fabrics.   What inspires you? I’m hugely inspired by the textures I find in nature – but I tend to apply these in an abstract way. I live in a beautiful part of the world – just inside Dartmoor National Park – so I have landscape to take inspiration from. I’m only a few minutes away from the windswept moors, ancient woodlands and the most breathtaking beaches. I’m also inspired by a lot of ancient art – chiefly basketry. Early examples from Rome, Africa and Australia are beautiful in their own way and an excellent reference. I try to put a modern take on this classic craft. Do you take inspiration from other makers? Something I’m quite passionate about is exploring my own path as a textile artist and not allowing myself to be swayed by what other people are creating, or be too bothered by trends. For me, personally, my journey as a textile artist is about it being a whole lifestyle.   What is your making process? It always starts with a huge pile of rope on the studio floor, which then has to be measured and organised into the correct lengths for creating whichever product I’m working on that day. Then I wind up plenty of bobbins in the colours I need and get stitching. Most days I sew for about four hours. The most exciting time for me is when there’s a big heap of rope on the floor that I’ve set aside specifically for experimenting and I create just for the sheer pleasure of it. I sketch out the bigger pieces I have in mind, but mostly I tend to visualise a picture that I then try to stitch into being. Can you describe your studio for us? It’s actually our conservatory at home. My sewing table faces a wall with shelves above that are overflowing with cones of colourful threads. I have to face the wall when I’m sewing so that I don’t get distracted! Any future plans? I’m in it for the long haul. Now I’ve found my passion I intend to stick at it for as long as possible. Right now I’m focusing on creating good work and building the business on a solid foundation. My main ambition is to keep to my artisan roots.     See more of Jessica’s striking designs at rubycubes.co.uk'

How to create timeless looks with mid-century furniture and accessories

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

Take design notes from the 40s, 50s and 60s to create a playful and stylish home
'1 For a playful look, pair classic mid-century furniture with brightly coloured rugs, ceramics and a space-age atomic coat stand Seth Thomas sunburst clock , £175, Focus on the Past. Rosewood chest by Kai Kristiansen , £725, Orange and Brown. On sideboard: Sandland Zebrette mussel shell vase , £59, Clutterfingers; Hornsea Elegance bowl designed by John Clappison , £20, Clutterfingers; plant , find similar at Wild Leaf; 1950s red desk lamp by Phillips , £145, Cream & Chrome. Atomic coat stand , £395, Cream & Chrome. 1950s scarf , £50, Lark Vintage. Yellow coat , find similar at Boden. 1950s umbrella , £25, Lark Vintage. 20th-century umbrella , £35, Blue Angel Jewellery at Etsy. 1950s satchel , £45.80, Lark Vintage. Lucienne Day Octagon runner , £100, twentytwentyone. 1950s brogue shoes , £35, Lark Vintage. Items on ledge: Hornsea Rainbow planter designed by John Clappison , £49, Clutterfingers; Murano cobalt glass vase , £130, Lorfords; 1950s black pitcher vase with decoration , £39, Clutterfingers. Draught excluder , stylist’s own. 2 A telephone bench is a great spot to put on your shoes or check your appearance before leaving the house. Add a vintage phone for an authentic touch.   Oval mirror with teak detail top and bottom , £25, tatortreasure on Instagram. Mid-century Chippy Heath teak telephone seat , £475, Mustard Vintage. Ivory 300 series telephone , £385, Antique Telephones. Denby Burlington vase , £44, Focus on the Past. Kaweco Dia green marble celluloid piston filler fountain pen , £275, Vintage and Modern Pens. Cheese plant , find similar at Wild Leaf. 3 Pile oversized cushions on and beside a classic mid-century chair – they are great for extra emergency seating for guests and are pretty eye-catching, too.   Antelope chair , £374, Race Furniture. Cushions (from top): Rio by Helene Wedel for Borås, £22; Solstice by Cliff Holden for David Whitehead, £26; Broadwalk by Peter Hall for Cepea, £27, all Blue Lizard Textiles at Etsy; Lucienne Day Dandelion Clocks, £85 per m; Lucienne Day Calyx Blue cushion fabric, £85 per m, both Loome Fabrics. Abstract painting by Raymond James Coxon , £600, Trilogie Antiques. Rug , find similar at Trouva. 4 An Ercol chair and matching footstool sing when paired with a sunny yellow cushion in Lucienne Day’s Dandelion Clocks fabric. La Tripale table , £750, Lorfords. Books , find similar at Bookbarn International. Teacup and saucer , part of 18-piece Ridgway Homemaker service, £349, Clutterfingers. Ercol chair and footstool , find similar at Pamono. Lucienne Day Dandelion Clocks cushion fabric , £85 per m, Loome Fabrics. Hexagonal tray , £14, John Lewis & Partners. Cylinda Line sugar bowl , £52.95; Cylinda Line creamer , £46.95; Cylinda Line teapot , £239, all Skandium. 1950s steel and wicker magazine rack , £85, Cream & Chrome. 1950s French floor lamp , £425, Cream & Chrome; 1950s magazines , £5, Rachel’s & Michael’s Antiques. On window sill: mid-century West German small ceramic vase , £19, Mustard Vintage; Kilmead ceramic green vase , £45, Focus on the Past; plant in retro tin , find similar at Not on the High Street. Sheepskin rug , £30, Ikea. 5 Avoid an all-wooden look with a glossy tabletop in a cheerful shade. Team with textural glass and a quirky wall clock to create an uplifting vibe. Le Soleil Rouge print by Joan Miró , £120, King & McGaw. Vintage 1950s Flash Transistor wall clock , £125, Cream & Chrome. Teak and oak cabinet by Børge Mogensen for Soborg , £1,150, Orange and Brown. On cabinet: vase 1462 by Tamara Aladin , £37; grey Pala vase by Helena Tynell , £48; Stella Polaris bottle by Nanny Still , £79; green Pala vase by Helena Tynell , £32; turquoise Pala vase by Helena Tynell , £48; Pontil vase designed in 1954 by Ronald Stennett Willson , £65, all Scandinavian:Modern; Bohemian glass vase , £75, Focus on the Past. 1950s dining table , £1,850; 1960s Italian dining chairs , £3,250 for a set, all Lorfords. Mid-century Dansk tray , £130, Studio 31 Vintage at Etsy. Caithness Stroma water set , £69, Coco Collectables at Etsy. Riihimaki Pala glass vase by Helena Tynell Design , £28, Scandinavian:Modern. Plates from Ridgway Homemaker 18-piece combination service , £349, Clutterfingers. Cheese plant , find similar at Wild Leaf. Cow hide , £180, Ikea. 6 A splash of zesty green inside the cupboard sets off this striking collection of silver and ceramic tea and coffee pots, while the plants in West German planters ground the look.   1950s sunburst clock , £125, Cream & Chrome. On ledge: ‘Flower’ ceramic planter , £27; ‘Swirl’ ceramic planter , £29, both Mustard Vintage; SylvaC Raphique green planter , £29, Clutterfingers; green ceramic planter , £29, Mustard Vintage; Bush radio , £30, Focus on the Past. On glass shelves: (Top shelf): Robert Welch Old Hall tea and coffee set , £95, Studio 31 Vintage at Etsy; Picquot tea set , £70, VosVintageUK at Etsy. (Second shelf): Cinque Ports Pottery 1960 Rye coffee set , £45; Dansk wood tray , £130, both Studio 31 Vintage at Etsy. (Third shelf): 1950s glass carrier and glasses , £25; Poole biscuit barrel with wicker handle , £40, both Focus on the Past; Hornsea rainbow planter by John Clappison , £49, Clutterfingers. (Bottom shelf): Ridgway Homemaker 18-piece service , £349, Clutterfingers. Slatted Danish bar stool designed by Arthur Umanoff , £1,980 for four, Lorfords 7 Create a restful space in your bedroom with a comfy bed and spacious bedside cabinet in matching woods for a simple yet stylish scheme. Vases #4 Aloe Vera by Kavel Rafferty art print , £30, Homeplace. Picture frame , £6, Ikea. Rosewood and brass double bed , £2,155, Orange and Brown. Scion Akira double duvet cover , £65; Scion Akira Oxford pillowcase , £12 each, both John Lewis & Partners; pink throw , £19, Ikea. Vintage PH4/3 hanging lamp by Poul Henningsen , £355, Orange and Brown. 1950s Nathan bedside cabinet , £195, Cream & Chrome. Books , find similar at Bookbarn International. Clock , £45, Cream & Chrome. ‘Flower’ ceramic planter , £27, Mustard Vintage. 8 If your bathroom is large enough and your cabinet has seen better days, consider converting it into a sink unit – the perfect storage-with-style combination.   Sideboard made into sink unit , find similar at Orange and Brown. Round wall mirror , find similar at VictoriaPlum.com. Amber glass decanter with ball stopper , £45, Clutterfingers. 20th-century Italian cobalt ‘Genie’ decanter , £75, Trilogie Antiques; blue glass mini genie bottle decanter , £49, Clutterfingers. Scion Lintu hand towel , £16, John Lewis & Partners. Mid-century Burlington by Denby small planter , £45, Studio 31 Vintage at Etsy. On window sill: yellow glass decanter , £39; turquoise glass decanter , £75; Sandland Zebrette asymmetric vase , £49, all Clutterfingers. Bohemia floor tiles , £41.25 per sq m, Collinson Tiles. Stockists Cream & Chrome  07963 142435; creamandchrome.co.uk Focus on the Past 0117 973 8080; focusonthepast.org Ikea  ikea.com John Lewis & Partners  johnlewis.com Lark Vintage  07988 615686; larkvintage.co.uk Lorfords 01666 505111; lorfordsantiques.com Mustard Vintage  07713 457297; mustardvintage.com Orange and Brown  0117 914 7973;  orangeandbrown.co.uk'

My Style Story: Sophie Robinson

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

We chat to the interior designer about the return of cream and how antiques ground a scheme
'I live in a late Victorian farmhouse in East Sussex. It’s set in the countryside right by woodland. Inside I’ve expressed my love of colour so it’s very bright on the inside with lots of modern-country design references – tongue and groove and Victorian encaustic tiles in the hallway. I’ve always been into colour . But over the years my style has grown and got more mature. I’ve always liked mixing vintage with modern pieces. I don’t think I have a go-to colour because I like every room and project to feel different. But I do like to have an accent of yellow in most of my rooms. When designing a room I start off by putting a whole scheme and mood board together and I think about how I want the room to feel – what sort of ambience I want to create within a space. Then I’ll put colours and patterns together and play around with those before I go picking paint and flooring. The oldest object in my home is a Victorian console table that belonged to my grandmother. I really like having elements of antique furniture in my home because my colour schemes and a lot of the pieces I choose are very modern and bright and I feel that mixing them with antiques helps to ground the look and keeps it sophisticated. I collect needlepoint tapestries . I gave my collection to an upholsterer who patchworked them and covered a bench with them, which is now in my living room. It’s quite a talking point. Lots of people inspire me . Recently I’v discovered an Australian designer, Anna Spiro, who is great with pattern. Someone recommended her book and said, ‘You like colour and pattern, you should buy this.’ And, wow, I love it. My favourite UK landmark is Brighton Pavilion because the interior design is completely bonkers and lavish and OTT. I just love the crazy turrets and Indian-style architecture. It’s insane. The interiors shop I couldn’t live without is Liberty London. I can’t afford anything in there but I just like going there for inspiration. One of my favourite websites is Wallpaper Direct – I think it’s just brilliant. It has loads of designs in one place and a really good search engine. I rely on it heavily for choosing wallpapers. The interiors trend I’m glad to see the back of is grey. I think it’s a very dead and depressing colour. But all the creams are coming back now. It’s all cyclical. I think Pantone’s colour of the year , Living Coral, is very warm and enlivening and a happy colour. It is something you can use easily as an accent if you have existing grey or navy or any of those sombre shades. I designed a range of bedlinen with Secret Linen Store last year, including a white linen set with a mini hot coral pom-pom trim around the edge. It’s that little splash of coral that’s more liveable with than using it as a wall colour. While I’m working I love to listen to podcasts . I like Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes’ The High Low just for an update and a bit of news and culture. I also love Desert Island Discs and Sarah Beeny has a podcast called Round the Houses, which I’ve enjoyed. * Hear more of Sophie’s decorating advice on her podcast, The Great Indoors .'

National Picnic Week 2019: the best outdoor accessories

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

​National Picnic Week takes place between 21st-30th June and, with these stylish essentials, you'll be desperate to head out for a good old fashioned al fresco feast!
'1 Vintage wool plaid throw, £38, Chummble Vintage at Etsy 2 Lisbon carafe, £8, Sainsbury’s Home 3 Big Aretha parasol, £595, East London Parasol Company 4 1950s raffia-decorated wicker basket, £32, Country and Chic at The Hoarde 5 Toile de Jouy glass straws, £120 for six, Dior 6 Mid-century German teak picnic boards with cutlery, £90 for two, Pamono'

Win a cabin getaway with Forest Holidays

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

One lucky winner will enjoy a midweek or weekend break for up to six people
'This month, H&A has teamed up with Forest Holidays to give you the chance to win a four-night midweek or three-night weekend break in a three-bedroom Golden Oak cabin – which includes a log burning stove and a hot tub – for up to six people. The prize also includes early check-in plus In Cabin Entertainment, which features wi-fi and film TV channels. The winner can choose to stay at any of Forest Holidays’ 10 idyllic locations* around the UK, deep in the woods, on the edge of the loch, or in a bright forest meadow. For more info visit forestholidays.co.uk   Reader offer: If you’re not lucky enough to win this fabulous competition, Forest Holidays is offering all Homes & Antiques readers 10 per cent off any break booked and taken before 31st December 2019. To take advantage of this offer, please call 03330 110495 or visit forestholidays.co.uk and quote or enter code HA19 .'

Meet the maker that uses gold lustre to bring sparkle to her handmade ceramics

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

Originally trained as an illustrator, the Devon-based potter uses delicate brushwork and gold lustre to bring sparkle to her handmade decorative ceramics
'These glistening ceramics – hand-thrown from stoneware clay and painted with gold lustre – wouldn’t look out of place balanced atop a pedestal in a high-end city gallery. So it’s perhaps surprising to learn that professional potter Sarah Bagouin-Harris’s wheel sits in her spare bedroom. Passionate about creating pieces that are both beautiful and useful, Sarah’s unique mugs, plates, bowls, planters and vases are adorned with flowing glazes and delicate decoration. Sarah uses a wheel to create a mug shape, before ‘turning’ to refine. What’s your background? I’ve always been a creative person, and I loved art from a young age. I studied Fine Art at college, and then went on to complete a degree in Illustration at Falmouth University, but I chose not to work as an illustrator when I graduated. I learned a lot from my degree, but a career in illustration wasn’t a good fit for me creatively. What first drew you to pottery making? I bought some ceramic bake-on pens from a local craft shop and began drawing designs onto plain glazed plates and mugs. I realised that I loved creating something that was both functional and beautiful. I then took a pottery taster session at a local studio, where I was taught the basics of throwing, and I completely fell in love with the process. After that, I hired a pottery wheel once a week so that I could practise, and took my work to the studio to be fired. The style of my ceramics has changed so much. Sarah uses a knife to create a textured surface to attach the handle Describe the sorts of ceramics you make I love the versatility of pottery and that you can make an amazing range of items from a single ball of clay. I mainly focus on making mugs, but I also enjoy crafting planters, lidded pots, tea wares and also plates.   What inspires you? I’ve always been inspired by nature and the colours that surround me. I also love Scandinavian and Japanese pottery, plus the designs of Dame Lucie Rie and Leach Pottery. Sarah attaches the handle to the mug Tell us about your process I start by wedging the clay, which is a process of kneading it to prepare it for throwing. Once I’ve thrown a piece at the wheel, it is left to dry to a leather-hard stage. I then ‘turn’ it: removing any excess clay in order to refine the shape. I will also add the handles at this point. Once the piece has air-dried for a few days (this is very weather dependent!) it will then be bisque fired. After this, it will be dipped into a glaze mixture and fired again. I then hand-paint the gold lustre design before firing the pot for a third and final time. I fire all pieces in a kiln in my back garden, which is in a coal shed. Pottery is my outlet for creativity and I really value those few hours when I can steal away to create. Describe your work space My studio is a small spare bedroom in my house. I have an area for wedging and reclaiming scraps of clay; a space for my wheel and drying shelves; plus a spot for glazing and painting on the gold lustre. By crafting from home, I’m able to work around my little one, which is very important for my life as a single mum. I also find it very therapeutic – pottery is my outlet for creativity and I really value those few hours when I can steal away to create.   Sarah paints lustre onto a finished mug What are you working on at the moment? I’m currently working with a darker clay body and white slip.   I’m really excited to see the ideas it generates and where it will take my work.   Any future plans? I’m quite happy with where I am and I feel very lucky to be able to do what I do. I’d love to move to bigger premises where I could fire work in a larger kiln. I’d also love to experiment with woodfiring and using clay that I’ve found rather than bought. A finished planter and mug See more of Sarah’s gold lustre ceramics at sbhpottery.com .'

How to create an interior inspired by the great outdoors

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

Harness the intrinsic beauty of the natural world with pattern, texture and hues that take copious design notes from the great outdoors
'1 Create a dining table fit for a May queen with handmade floral napkin rings, wicker placemats and serving platters, chunky ornamental candlesticks and, naturally, plenty of bulbs and blooms. Wall chart , find similar at Vintage Wall Charts. Armchair , find similar at Maisons du Monde. Issoria Outdoor Cobalt cushion (on window sill), £49, Designers Guild. Castleford tall bottle in Forest , £49, Neptune. Log basket , find similar at Wovenhill. Dining table and bench , find similar at Barker and Stonehouse. 19th-century Swedish chair , £1,800 for six, Brownrigg. Swedish country chair , £1,800 for four, Lorfords. Regency revival chair , £2,600 for six, Lorfords. On table: hessian as a runner , £4.95 per roll, Baker Ross; Aluna cane stand , £39.95, Nkuku; candlesticks , find similar at Homesense; bird cage , £480 for six, Lorfords; Artisan mango wood plates , £19.95 each, Nkuku; 1900s French Terre de Fer brown transferware , £180 for set of six, Beau Chateau Boutique; Antonia linen napkins , £44 for six, Neptune; cutlery, £65 for six forks, £35 for six knives, £20 for six spoons, Rachel’s & Michael’s Antiques; green lemonade set , £60, Rag & Bone Bristol; Aluna cane tray , £29.95, Nkuku; Lamorran bowl , £33, Neptune; Castleford wide glass bottle , £35, Neptune; cruet set , find similar at Zara Home. Coffer , find similar at Focus on the Past. Fern print , £2,000 for a pair, Lorfords. White vase , find similar at Scandinavian Design Center. 2 The kitchen is ripe for adding accessories made from rustic wood. From breadboards and spoons to crates and plate racks, invest in this versatile material that only gets better with age. Bialetti Moka Espresso Maker , £28, John Lewis & Partners. Green jars , £12 each, Amy Perry Antiques. Crate , £22, Focus on the Past. Urn (with flowers in), £200, Lorfords. Vintage scales , £110, Domestic Science. Chopping boards , find similar at Dassie Artisan. Green waterer , £19, Wood & Meadow. 1920s pink enamel jug , £42, Beau Chateau Boutique. Terracotta pot and plant , stylist’s own. Wire basket , find similar at Beau Chateau Boutique. Mixing bowl , £30, Rag & Bone Bristol. Illustrations , £10 each, Life of Si. Plate rack , find similar at Susie Watson Designs. Mustard pot , find similar at Brownrigg. 3 Marry mismatched vintage ceramics with a pretty tablecloth for a relaxed approach to teatime. Teacup and saucer , £8.50, Domestic Science. Eggs , £6.50 a bag, Baileys Home. Blue and white plate , £15, Focus on the Past. Pheasant tail feather , £2.80 for five, The Feather Shop. 1900s French terre de fer plate , £180 for six, Beau Chateau Boutique. Blue and white plate , find similar at Malvern Flea & Collectors Fair. Forks , £65 for six, Rachel’s and Michael’s Antiques. Knives , find similar at The Giant Shepton Flea Market. Teaspoon and fabric , stylist’s own. Books , from £2 each, Bookbarn International. Bird illustrations , £10 each, Life of Si. Blossom , Lily Violet May. 4 Even functional areas, such as a busy hallway, can be dressed to great effect with a botanical print or two, woven baskets and cosy throws in rustic shades.   Bin , £80 for a pair, Anne Fowler. Walking sticks , £35-£48 each, Focus on the Past. Basket , £38, Chloe Antiques. Blanket (in basket), £35, Focus on the Past. Box , £32, Focus on the Past. Shoe lasts , find similar at Malvern Flea & Collectors Fair. Swedish 19th-century console table , £2,200, Lorfords. Vintage French hat , £420 for a large collection, Lorfords. 17th-century Basilius Besler botanical engraving , £1,620, Lorfords. Hairbrush , stylist’s own. Books , from £2 each, Bookbarn International. Vase , stylist’s own. Green glass vase , £380 for a collection, Lorfords. Bell , find similar on eBay. Suitcase , find similar at Retrovation. Welsh blankets , £299 each, Jane Beck Welsh Blankets. 5 Drift off to sleep surrounded by the sights of nature. Bedlinen decorated with flora and fauna motifs, potted plants and curios under bell jars are all brilliant ways to usher the outside in. Wall charts , £19.99 each, Bygone Press. On shelves: vintage basket , £30, Chloe Antiques; green lantern , find similar at PK Green; books , from £2 each, Bookbarn International; woven plant holder , find similar at The Future Kept; SylvaC mantel vase , find similar at Soulfood Studio; A Book of Lilies , £6, Focus on the Past; books , from £2 each, Bookbarn International; blue and white jug , £8, Focus on the Past; green art deco jug , £15, Focus on the Past; hyacinth in floral pot , £10, Lisa Elliott Floral Design; book , £6, Focus on the Past; Bay terracotta pot , £10, Neptune. Bed , find similar at John Lewis & Partners. A Leaf and Butterfly Study linen cushion , £95, Designers Guild. Fleur kingsize kantha-style cotton bedspread , £105, Rebecca’s Aix Home. Bespoke hardwood chest of drawers in 1930s wallpaper , £2,800, Lorfords. Glass-framed butterflies , £95, No.52 Antiques & Interiors. Cloches , find similar at Maisons du Monde. Basket , find similar at Baileys Home. 6 If your entrance hall is large enough, think about adding a few touches of greenery. An indoor wreath is a surprising and wonderful element that never fails to provide a cheerful welcome. White rustic ladder , find similar at Barker and Stonehouse. Wreath , £POA, Lily Violet May. Early 19th-century painted chest , £2,250, Lorfords. Mid 20th-century silver-plated cake stand , £1,650, Brownrigg. Books , from £2 each, Bookbarn International. Blue and white bird detail teacup and saucer , £5, Rag & Bone Bristol. On cake stand: small galvanised plant pot , £8, Focus on the Past; terracotta pots , from £2 each, Anne Fowler; pink twine , £22.50 for a mini wooden crate with assorted spools, Nutscene; earthenware ink bottle , £5, Malvern Flea & Collectors Fair; jute twine , £4.40 for 500g, Bloomling; earthenware ink pot , £5, Malvern Flea & Collectors Fair; cut-glass vase , £8, Rachel’s & Michael’s Antiques. All flowers supplied by Lily Violet May. Stockists Brownrigg 01666 500887; brownrigg-interiors.co.uk Designers Guild 020 7351 5775;  designersguild.com Focus on the Past 0117 973 8080; focusonthepast.org Lorfords 01666 505111; lorfordsantiques.com Maisons du Monde 0808 234 2172; maisonsdumonde.com Neptune 01793 427300; neptune.com Rachel’s & Michael’s Antiques  0117 329 8989; rachelsandmichaelsantiques.com Rag & Bone Bristol 0117 329 8989; ragandbonebristol.com'

Design Icon: Ercol’s 354 Nest of Tables

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

Ercol is responsible for some of Britain's most iconic furniture designs. Here, we profile the 354 Nest of Tables..
'Sleek, elegant and efficient, the 354 Nest of Tables by Ercol is a classic of the mid-century era. Launched by Lucian R Ercolani in 1957 as part of the Ercol Windsor collection, it was an instant hit. Its sharp, tapered legs are akin to the traditional 17th-century English furniture that Ercolani so loved, while pebble-shaped tops nod to the 1950s trend for organic, Scandinavian-inspired furniture. What is the history of the Ercol 354 tables? Furniture maker Lucian R Ercolani believed that design was evolutionary. So it’s hardly surprising that when he came to create his popular Windsor range for Ercol in the 1950s, he chose to turn his attention to the past: drawing upon the classic 17th-century English furniture created in High Wycombe, the hometown of his first factory.   Harnessing the modern technique of steam-bending, Ercolani created a range of wooden seats, tables and storage that were both smart and affordable, a prime example of which was his 354 Nest of Tables. With ‘oyster-shaped’ elm tops that stack neatly beneath each other, it is thought this set evolved from Ercolani’s chair designs with similar round seats. Although nesting tables were popular in 1950s homes, many were crafted from teak with heavy tops and legs. As such, the organic curves and soft, tapered finish of Ercolani’s 354 model called out to his design-savvy punters, reserving its spot as an icon of the future.   Image: Ercol Who designed the Ercol 354 nest of tables? Fondly referred to as the ‘Old Man’, designer Lucian R Ercolani crafted affordable furniture with comfort, efficiency and functionality at its core. Born to Italian parents, Ercolani and his family moved to London in the 1890s and, once there, he enrolled in a night school course at the Shoreditch Technical Institute. He had a clear flair for design and furniture construction and, in 1907, crafted his very first piece: a delicate musical cabinet decorated with mother of pearl, which is still owned by the brand today.   Image: Ercol After designing items for what would become Parker Knoll and G-Plan, Ercolani founded Ercol (originally called Furniture Industries) in 1920. He designed furniture for Ercol for many years – including the 354 Nest of Tables – and was proceeded by his son in 1976. Today, Ercol continues to sell Ercolani’s ageless tables, chairs and couches in a collection aptly called ‘Originals’.   Image: Philip Sowels The evolution of nesting tables 1803 Designer Thomas Sheraton made waves with his book: The Cabinet Dictionary . Inside was the first known sketch of a nest of tables, called Quartetto. 1803-1830 Nesting tables surged in popularity through the 1800s, such as these from Georgian Antiques for £1,600. 1925-26 Marcel Breuer designed the B9 tables for Thonet (£2,036 Skandium). The B9 were used in the Bauhaus Building cafe . 1957 Lucian R Ercolani launched his iconic 354 Nest of Tables as part of the Ercol Windsor collection.   2019 Nesting tables are still popular with interiors mavens, especially in metal finishes. These cost £220 from Oliver Bonas . 4 ways to style Ercol nesting tables 1 Pale and interesting Fibre artist Elle Collins embraces a pared-back Scandinavian vibe in her home. Stripped vintage nesting tables are partnered with washed flooring and plenty of greenery for a cool, contemporary feel. Follow her on Instagram @bamaluzhome . 2 Timeless mid-century Image: Philip Sowels Create a classic, vintage look by placing nesting tables alongside an Ercol Loveseat. Decorate with cushions, throws and rugs in mustard, green and brown, or mid-century accessories such as teak planters and studio ceramics.   3 Classic yet contemporary Mid-century furniture looks so at home in a period property, and the dark stain on this set of nesting tables gives it real edge. Top with a vintage demijohn filled with fronds of dried flowers for a look that’s traditional yet also now.   4 Usher in colour Don’t dismiss nesting tables in a bold colour – they’re a prime way to bring depth and warmth to a light garden room or conservatory, especially when paired with a statement Ercol Studio Couch.   Shop the look – More vintage nesting tables for your home 1950s Bengt Ruda nesting tables, £450, Hadham Vintage at Intique. G-Plan nest of tables, £125, JK Baynham . 1950s French nesting tables by Mathieu Matégot for Atelier Matégot, £4,436, Pamono . Circular bamboo and rattan nest of tables, £350, Cubbit Antiques at Decorative Collective .   How can I buy a vintage set of Ercol 354 tables? Although new examples of the Ercol 354 Nest of Tables can be bought from select suppliers across the UK, it’s relatively easy to track down a vintage set at a regional auction house, antiques shop or flea market. Online sellers such as Etsy, or digital auction sites like eBay, can also be a helpful resource. At auction, a set of nesting tables in elm and beech from the 1950s, 60s or 70s can fetch anywhere between £150-£350, but they may command a higher price if bought from a specialist dealer or shop.   As the 354 Nest of Tables is still in production today – as part of the Ercol Originals collection – you can check for authentic, vintage examples by turning over the tables and looking for a small blue sticker featuring the Ercol lion, which was used to mark items from c1954 to the mid 1970s. However, if the sticker has dropped off, which they sometimes do, look for tables with soft patina, plus a few bumps and scrapes. If you come across a nest in need of some TLC, there are several craftspeople across the UK who specialise in Ercol restoration, such as simplyercol.co.uk .'

Meet the block-printer that creates elaborate designs inspired by the natural world

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

From her renovated 1940s bus store, artist Lou Tonkin block-prints elaborate designs inspired by the natural world
'Nestled on the Cornish coastline, not far from St Ives , artist Lou Tonkin carefully carves away at a block to create one of her highly intricate prints, capturing a throng of hedgerow foliage and shoreline creatures in rich, pigmented ink. ‘The work I make is very personal to me,’ she explains. ‘It’s a reflection of my interaction with nature and the great outdoors.’ Lou’s desk is collaged with inspiring prints Tell us a bit about your background… I have always been a creative person. I was the child with cupboards filled with old loo rolls and bottles for craft projects. I am also really dyslexic, so I found school quite difficult. I chose to immerse myself in what I was good at, rather than academic subjects.   How did you discover block printing? I did a bit of lino printing at school, which I really enjoyed. I loved that it was hands-on and traditional. We had a beautiful tall press with wooden handles, and physically using that felt different to sketching or computer-generating an image. I love the whole process, from first drawing an image to cutting it on the block. Being a printmaker is quite a specific thing – you have to think in a precise way. I often work back-to-front, as everything will be in reverse when it is printed. It’s also very three-dimensional, as I can use more than one block to create a print and have to imagine how exactly they’ll fit together. Tell us about your process Sometimes I’ll see something when I’m walking my dog in the morning and I’ll hold that image in my mind until I get back to the studio. I’ll then draw it in one of my sketchbooks. If I need a reverse image, I’ll trace the design from the sketch and flip the trace over using old-fashioned carbon paper (like you’d use for duplicate receipts). I’ll then copy this onto the printing block using a scalpel. Next, I carve away the block from the design – taking away the background so the lines of the sketch stand proud. Then I roll some fantastically sticky ink onto the block and press it onto Japanese washi paper , which I prefer to use. After that, I hand-burnish the back of every design with a wooden spoon, as I don’t have a large press. It’s quite magical. I love seeing a picture that I’ve carved by hand on the block and then its mirror image on the paper next to it. It’s such an exciting way to work. Describe the items you make I usually print designs onto paper, and sometimes onto fabric. I love creating items that are useful – and I use several local producers to turn my paper prints into homewares, such as tea towels and mugs. Using local craftspeople and makers is really important to me, and I’m very much blessed to live among a particularly creative community in Cornwall.   What inspires you? I have to say almost exclusively nature. I live in a beautiful place that’s just up the road from a creek and the beach, plus some old woodlands with ancient broadleaf trees and little lanes to explore. Can you tell us what your studio is like? It’s a workshop in my back garden, which means I’m in control of what’s outside my window. I like to plant loads of comfrey and borage outside, so the studio is always surrounded by bees in the summer. The space used to be the local bus store so, in the 1940s, it’s where they would keep the little single-decker buses that serviced the village. It’s not a purpose-built space – all I have added is insulation, paint and skylights. I also like to display lots of things that inspire me. My desk space is covered with prints that I’ve done, and I recently stumbled across some wooden antique printing blocks that are now up on the wall. Any plans for the future? I’m working on designs that can be printed onto linen and made into clothes with fashion brand Phaedra , plus I’d love to learn how to make wallpaper. I’ve just created some new repeat prints; they will be great as fabric but also as hand-printed scarves. See more of Lou’s prints at loutonkin.com'

How to create a country kitchen

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

We show you how to create an idyllic countryside look in you kitchen in 10 easy steps. Cue exposed beams, painted furniture and a swoon-worthy vintage ceramics..
'1 Create a light and inviting space Think country kitchen and an image of a dark, cosy space might spring to mind – all painted beams, wooden floors and small casement windows. But today’s rustic kitchens are all about embracing the light. There’s nothing more inviting than a clean, light, bright space, which is why neutrals and whites are the ideal choice, whether the room is modern or traditional in style. A pale scheme won’t date, goes with everything and bounces light around what could potentially be a gloomy room. Jan Baldwin   2 Introduce colour A big trend in kitchens is coloured base and cupboard units with shades of blue, green and grey particularly popular. If that feels like too much of a commitment, use coloured units for just one area – such as the island – or paint a statement wall or choose colourful appliances. The Shaker Kitchen Company   3 Invest in a dresser or cabinet Inject instant character into your kitchen by investing in an antique dresser. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but are also extremely practical. The antithesis of the fitted unit, the dresser will endow your kitchen with enviable country charm, as well as offer up the perfect spot to showcase your culinary collectables (see point six for more ideas). Nicholas Yarsley   4 Pick complementary worktops and sinks   A ceramic Belfast sink is the obvious choice for a country kitchen, but it isn’t your only option. Composite sinks are hardwearing, scratch and stain-resistant and come in a wide range of colours. ‘If you are thinking of a Corian worktop, you can opt for a seamless sink where they use the same material for both, giving a very high-end look,’ says Darren Watts, Design Director at Wren Kitchens . And for worktops? ‘For strength and longevity, I would recommend quartz as it’s non-porous, stain-resistant and can easily be brought to a good-as-new finish using a microfibre cloth. If wood is your dream, don’t be afraid of it, just be aware that it requires some maintenance.’ Wren Kitchens   5 Invest in a range cooker A freestanding range is a country kitchen essential. Not only do they look the part and give off cosy warmth, but they have a larger cooking capacity than a standard oven, making them ideal for those who like to entertain. Ranges are an investment, but worth considering.   David Parmiter   6 Create displays of antique and vintage crockery Displays of vases, jugs, crockery and even serving and cookware will enhance the inviting, lived-in feeling of a country kitchen. Be brave, lovers of antique and vintage kitchenalia, and put your treasures on show! Opt for rustic finds for a traditional feel and don’t be afraid to display en masse. Rachel Whiting   7 Try open shelving Open shelves may seem less tidy than enclosed cupboards, but they fit well with the rustic aesthetic and help to create a relaxed atmosphere. Fill yours with natural textures like linens and baskets, or even use as a wood store, to complete the country vibe. Alexis Hamilton for Plain English   8 Consider freestanding units and furniture For a modern-rustic finish, forego all-fitted units and mix in freestanding pieces instead. In this kitchen by deVOL , a blend of built-in units and freestanding vintage furniture creates an eclectic rural look. A former butcher’s block doubles up as a stylish breakfast bar and extra worktop. Its undulating surface oozes charm – but if you need a more practical countertop, you could consider topping it with a thin slab of marble or stainless steel. To keep the style sophisticated, choose rich navy cabinets and brass door furniture.   deVOL   9 Evenly distribute lighting According to Nicky Spear, Managing Director of Sustainable Kitchens , because the kitchen has the most varied activities of any room, the lighting needs special consideration. The aim should be for an even distribution of light, with pendant lighting complementing the natural light available. Carefully placed spotlights will help with tasks such as chopping and cooking, while statement lights can add character or grandeur. ‘Vintage chandeliers can easily be rewired, offering an enchanting focal point and diffusing a soft, flattering light,’ she says. Sustainable Kitchens   10 Choose hardwearing, practical flooring The busiest room in the house needs flooring that is hardwearing and practical. Luckily for fans of the country kitchen style, there are several such options to choose from. Wooden boards, whether original or laid on top of the existing floor, are a popular choice as are ceramic tiles, reclaimed terracotta and, as seen here, natural flagstones. Don’t forget to consider underfloor heating – it is energy efficient and, with no wall-hung radiators, allows you to dedicate more space to cupboards and worktops. Jan Baldwin   How to use salvage in your kitchen Alex Main of kitchen specialist The Main Company shares his advice: If you value character and individuality in your home , choose salvaged materials such as flooring and worktops. These are regularly used by the more imaginative kitchen companies, as are reclaimed sinks, lighting, standalone cabinets and accessories, such as hooks and handles. According to Alex Main , Director of The Main Company, which specialises in incorporating salvaged and reclaimed materials into its bespoke kitchens, there are virtually no limits to the materials that can be reused, but items like reclaimed floorboards are an obvious choice for their solidity and durability. Likewise, countertops are often sturdier and heavier than what you might get with a new equivalent, and also offer a patina that only comes with age and is brilliant for disguising scratches and knife marks. Alex recommends online auction sites for sourcing reclaimed materials such as floors, but make sure you buy enough for the space, allowing for 10 per cent wastage, and do check for woodworm. Wooden items that may have been in a damp environment, like butcher’s blocks, will need to be dried out for six months before being fitted as they may otherwise split. ‘Standalone pieces are great for creating a statement,’ says Alex. ‘Matching a dresser with a butcher’s block is a good way to incorporate them into the rest of the scheme.’   The best rustic kitchen ceramics Add country character to your kitchen with these antique and vintage finds:  Large French tian or confit bowl, £130, Restored 2 B Loved at The Hoarde   Antique French Provençal 19th-century stoneware olive oil jug, £125, Decorative Antiques   Commemorative mug 1869, £220, The Lacquer Chest at Decorative Collective   Mid 19th-century ironstone platter in Willow pattern, £145, Hand of Glory Antiques & Interiors'

Jay Blades on his love of Ernest Race furniture

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

The restorer and TV presenter talks about one of his design heroes, Ernest Race – the man who made chairs out of aeroplanes..
'Recently, I had the chance to work on some pieces by one of my ultimate design heroes, Ernest Race. I am really excited about this, as his stuff is so rare today. I’m reimagining some of his designs for the Ernest Race Heritage Collection – the pieces will be sold at auction and some of the proceeds will help me start the Jay & Co Academy (I plan to work with furniture manufacturers to get underprivileged young people into apprenticeships). But this collection is also about raising Ernest Race’s profile, too.   He is probably the designer I admire the most. In my eyes Race was the original upcycler. He was on the scene after the Second World War, and he was so resourceful and imaginative. There weren’t many materials around after the war so he had to get creative. He used things like decommissioned aeroplanes and even surplus ammunition, melting them down and repurposing the components to create truly iconic furniture.   You can see the history in each of Race’s designs. His forms are simple but classic – they’re timeless. He might not be the most famous name, but all of the top designers know about him and respect his ethos. He made chairs, rockers, benches, tables and bookcases – you name it. And every single one is just, wow! He is known for producing chairs for the 1951 Festival of Britain – a celebration to lift British spirits after the war. He was in the same league as names like Robin and Lucienne Day, Peter Moro and Abram Games.   His furniture is minimal and honest. You know exactly what each piece is and what it is made from – you can see the history in each of Race’s designs. His forms are simple but classic – they’re timeless. As I write, I’m looking at one of the Antelope chairs that I’ve reimagined – what I’ve been able to create with his original frame is incredible. Jay’s Top Choice ‘I love all of Ernest Race’s designs but the BA3 chair is my favourite. It’s very simple, and it is typical of his resourceful spirit: launched in 1946, the originals were constructed of recast aluminium taken from redundant aircraft, and upholstered in surplus RAF fabric. The ultimate in ‘make do and mend’ and so stylish.’ 01451 821446; racefurniture.com'

Win a four-night hotel stay in Morocco

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

One lucky winner and their guest will enjoy four nights at the beautiful Palais Amani in Fez, Morocco
'Fez is Morocco’s second city and its UNESCO World Heritage Medina is truly extraordinary. Inside the Medina you’ll find the art deco Palais Amani, a luxurious hotel, which was partly rebuilt in the 1930s. We have teamed up with the hotel to offer H&A readers the chance to win a four-night stay in a Senior Suite! The Palais Amani is home to 18 bedrooms and suites, a roof terrace, a cookery school, a restaurant, a library, a garden and a hammam.   A unique way to start in Fez is with a guided foodie tour of the Medina, followed by a class at the Fez Cooking School, located on the hotel’s roof terrace. The hammam at Palais Amani – lit only by candles – is designed in true Moroccan style with a hot room, exfoliation room and a luxury relaxation chamber. In the hotel’s restaurant, diners can enjoy Moroccan signature dishes from an à la carte menu, or sample the three-course bistro menu. For a truly unforgettable culinary adventure, diners can choose to sit in the outdoor hidden paradise under the majestic citrus trees. For more information, visit palaisamani.com The prize: 1 Four nights in a Senior Suite at the Palais Amani 2 ‘Amani Unwind’ for two in the hotel’s hammam 3 Cookery class for two 4 Dinner each night 5 Guided Medina tour 6 A day’s hiking with picnic 7 Visit to the archaeological site Volubilis 8 Transfers to and from Fes-Saïss airport'

My Style Story: Luke Edward Hall on the appeal of buying books and the beauty of the perfect shade of pink

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

We chat to the prolific artist and designer about mixing up the eras, the appeal of buying books and the beauty of the perfect shade of pink
'I live in a flat in a Victorian terrace , at the top of a leafy square in north London with my boyfriend, Duncan. Our bedroom is my favourite room because we worked on it quite recently. It has a leopard carpet, heavy pink velvet curtains and green marbled paper walls. It’s also where a lot of my best-loved books are stacked on shelves and it has a charming view over the back garden, a church spire and trees.   One of the first pieces Duncan and I bought together was a bar cabinet from the 1950s with inlaid malachite panels and a mirrored interior that lights up pink. We still have it and keep our favourite glassware inside. The newest item in the house is a rug with a Greek key design in dark blue and emerald green for our living room. We had admired it for years. I like lots of different eras – English country house interiors by John Fowler, mid-century Italian design and designers such as Gio Ponti, a sprinkling of Memphis Milano… At the moment I’m having a real baroque and rococo moment. At the moment I’m having a real baroque and rococo moment I most enjoy collecting vintage art and design books, because they provide inspiration for my work. I like to buy books because often they include images that can’t be found online. The designer I most admire is Cecil Beaton, because he worked extremely hard and produced so much, from photography, writing and costume design, to book covers, interiors and more. I love his pencil drawings in particular. He had a unique take on the world and I admire designers who have strong aesthetic visions. When decorating my own home , the most important things to me are colour, texture and pattern. I believe in juxtaposing to create interest, so we’ll have a 1970s ceramic lamp with a hand-painted lampshade on top of a Georgian chest of drawers, or a contemporary marble coffee table in the same space as an Aesthetic movement ebonised chair. I like bold colour combinations and a mix of fabrics. There’s a lot going on in our flat because I like being surrounded by the things that inspire me. At the moment we’re kind of drowning in pieces picked up on trips. We need another house! A decorating project that didn’t go to plan happened early last year when we painted our living room pink. The first attempt went very wrong – the pink was much too bright, sort of a highlighter hue, and the first night we lived with it we realised it was giving us headaches. We had to repaint it a few days later a calmer, softer shade. A free day doesn’t occur too often so I’ll be at home with Duncan. I’ll shop for ingredients in nearby Primrose Hill, cook, read, put on a murder mystery and sit at our dining table with my watercolours or scrapbook, cutting and pasting things in. I travel a lot, so days at home doing not very much at all are precious to me. I like to be busy, but I strongly believe in taking time to enjoy simple pleasures. This stylish rug, Key Shadow by Suzanne Sharp, is the latest addition to Luke’s home. It is from The Rug Company and prices start at £2,009. For more information on Luke Edward Hall’s work visit lukeedwardhall.com'

Stylish ways to avoid single use plastic

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

As we all look cut-down on single use plastics, we've scouted out the trendiest alternatives - from lunch boxes to tooth brushes!
'1 Large brass Indian tiffin tin £60, Scaramanga 2 Eco friendly metal straws £6, River island 3 Bee’s Wrap Assorted Reusable Food Wraps – pack of three £19.99, Lakeland   4 Stainless Steel Thermal Mug – Living Cup to Cup £25, Ban.do   5 Blackberry and Bay Soap   £15, Jo Malone   6 Eco friendly bamboo toothbrush, The Humble Brush Co £5, Free People   7 Stasher Sandwich Bag £12, Anthropologie   8 S’well Penn Vacuum Insulated Drinks Bottle £35, John Lewis   9 Niki Pink Net Shopper Bag £6, Oliver Bonas   10 No. More. Plastic.: What you can do to make a difference – the #2minutesolution £6.99, Waterstones'

My Style Story: Fearne Cotton on her love of old properties and shopping on Portobello Road

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

The broadcaster and designer tells us about her love of old properties, good paint, cushions and shopping on London's Portobello Road
'I fell in love with my home when I walked into the hallway just past the front door. I knew it had to be mine. It was more the atmosphere than anything else – I just had that feeling. The first piece of furniture I bought was a bed from Ikea for my first flat. It was wicker and actually quite cool. Probably the only redeeming feature of my first flat, which I decorated single-handedly – and you could tell. The oldest item in my home is a French dresser that belonged to my husband Jesse’s late mum, Krissy Wood. She had it in all of her homes and it sits proudly in our kitchen displaying our plates and trinkets. It’s dark aquamarine and is a real showstopper with lots of history. The most recent addition to my home is  the House of Hackney floral wallpaper in our lounge. It’s a bold print so I used it in a recess to create a feature wall.   At the top of my interiors wishlist has to be good paint. I love how it can instantly change a whole mood and space. I want to decorate our conservatory with a deep colour but currently I can’t decide which shade. Fearne’s lounge is decorated in House of Hackney wallpaper, like this Artemis design in Blush and Florika in Petrol (both £185 per roll). I love the age of my home and the way it holds history. It’s an 1800s property and has lots of original features, such as fireplaces and arching hallways. The top level has high ceilings too, which give good space and light. I’m a big fan of older properties as they always ooze character. My home in one word is eclectic. I don’t like things to look showhomey or too pristine. I love a cosy atmosphere that makes you feel relaxed. The biggest collection in my home is probably the cushions – in varied prints, patterns and colours spread across beds, dining room chairs and sofas, adding comfort and texture. My favourite room is my bedroom as I love sleep and never get enough of it. It’s snug and cocoon-like with lots of warm colours such as peachy burnt orange and moss green. We also have a huge bed for small night-time invaders. I love the age of my home and the way it holds history. It’s an 1800s property and has lots of original features, such as fireplaces and arching hallways. I love to look for inspiration from bohemian homes from the 1970s. I think a home has to feel welcoming but also exciting to be in and that decade certainly delivered. My favourite place to shop for pieces for my home is Etsy as it’s so cool to support up-and-coming designers. You can find some really interesting accessories on there. A visit to London’s Portobello Road is great for finding one-off knick-knacks, too.   On a free day you’ll find me in my kitchen. I love baking and cooking, which is why I was delighted to work with Swan on my own collection. My kids also now get involved, which is lovely. It relaxes and grounds me.   I wish I could play an instrument. My husband is so musical but I don’t have it in me. I love to sing but I have no idea how to play guitar or piano and I really wish I could. Fearne has collaborated with Swan on a new kitchenware and cookware collection, Fearne by Swan. swan-brand.co.uk'

Meet the makers that use traditional skills to craft bespoke furniture

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

Furniture makers Ben and Noah keep traditional skills and sustainable methods at the heart of their Bristol business
'Noah Kay and Ben Hooper were latecomers to the world of furniture design. Choosing to step away from the nine-to-five in favour of the chisel and lathe, the pair met while studying at London’s prestigious Building Crafts College. Now they work from a warehouse in Bristol, crafting wooden tables, desks and accessories that are as effortlessly cool as they are environmentally friendly. Tell us about your background Noah: I started off going to university in Bristol, studying architecture and engineering. I then went travelling, before moving back to England and working with my stepdad, who is a blacksmith. I’d never worked with my hands before, but I fell in love with it. I eventually enrolled in the Fine Woodwork and Furniture Making course. Ben: My uncle and grandad were both bench joiners, so I’ve always been surrounded by making. Music was my first career: I studied it and then went on to teach music technology. I wasn’t particularly happy as a teacher, so I took redundancy to explore other career paths. A friend recommended I enrol in the Building Crafts College course, which is where I met Noah. How and why did you start Knotch Design? N: We got on really well and went out for a drink on the first day of the course. We quickly discovered that we were both obsessed with artisan coffee. B: Noah and I have a very similar approach when it comes to designing and making furniture. We have different ideas, but they work well together. After we finished our course, we attended trade and design shows. We were approached by brands to work as product developers, but neither of us wanted to create other people’s designs, so we decided to set something up together. We both spent a year working for deVOL as kitchen fitters, which gave us the money to invest in tools and sort out our business plan, and now we’ve been trading as Knotch Design for over a year. What’s your aim? B: Our long-term goal is to develop our own range of furniture, alongside bespoke pieces. We’re currently prototyping new designs. N: We’re really inspired by Scandinavian and Japanese designs, as well as architectural and sculptural forms. And many of our designs come from ideas of sustainability and the sense of community in Bristol. Are you influenced by any other designers? B: I love the work of Charles and Ray Eames. N: There’s a designer called George Nakashima, and I think his pieces are just beautiful. I also love the work of Finn Juhl. Talk us through your process N: Sometimes we’re in the middle of a creative slump, but something will spark inspiration and the ideas pour out. We’ll then draw upon each other to pick our designs apart and create the final piece. B: My favourite part of creating a piece is the prototyping stage. It usually takes three or four attempts to make a final design. Describe your workshop N: We’ve recently moved, which has been a revelation. B: Our last studio was freezing as it was previously used for packing meat. The new workshop has lots of space and natural light – it’s had a huge impact on our productivity. What has been your proudest moment to date? N: There’s an immense sense of satisfaction when you apply the finishing touches to a piece. We recently made a huge dining table for someone. They were thrilled when we brought it into the house – especially as it took six of us to carry it! See more from Noah and Ben at  knotch.design'

Win tickets to see Shakespeare at Blenheim palace

Home and Decoration Homes and Antiques

One lucky VIP winner plus four runners-up will receive tickets to Shakespeare plays at Blenheim Palace this summer!
'Following its highly acclaimed inaugural season in York last year, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre will pop up at Blenheim Palace this summer! To celebrate, we’re giving you the chance to win a VIP prize to the opening night of Macbeth on Monday 8th July. Four runners-up will also win a pair of tickets to one of the first nights of Macbeth (8th July), Romeo & Juliet (9th July), Richard III (10th July) or A Midsummer Night’s Dream (11th July), and a pair of annual passes to Blenheim Palace, Park and Gardens.   With dramatic sword fights, bubbling cauldrons, wayward fairies, passionate love scenes and gruesome murders, audiences will experience the comic heights and tragic depths of the Bard’s theatre in a memorable setting. Shakespeare’s Village will also set the scene with hand-picked local food and drink.   The VIP prize includes a stay at The Feathers, Woodstock (feathers.co.uk), a 17th-century townhouse hotel a stone’s throw from Blenheim Palace. As well as offering stylish and spacious rooms, The Feathers is renowned for its selection of gins – over 400. For more info and to book, visit blenheimpalace.com/shakespearesRT . THE VIP PRIZE: 1 A pair of adult tickets to the opening night of Macbeth 2 Pre-performance dinner for two 3 A double room B&B at The Feathers hotel on 8th July 2019   4 Two adult annual pass tickets to Blenheim Palace, Park & Gardens'