Today we are having a chat with one of the owners of Rose and Grey, the beautiful interiors store tucked away on Altrincham (South Manchester) side streets which is a treasure trove of custom sofas, stylish accessories and decorating inspiration.
When did you realise your passion for interior design
I’ve always been interested in interiors, even as a child. My dad is an architect and my brother works in property development so a passion for interior design definitely runs in the family. As a child I used to cut up interior magazines to make scrapbooks, so it makes sense that I ended up in this industry!
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
We like to balance our collection between trend-led pieces and timeless design. We tend to focus on designs with longevity for our larger furniture items, only buying into trends that we know will be around for a significant time, like our best-selling velvet sofas. We always have pieces that reference Scandinavian and Mid-Century design in our collections, as these looks don’t date and really appeal to our customers. We mix in trend-led pieces through new fabrics and smaller accessories. At the moment we’re seeking a lot of inspiration from Byron Bay in Australia and Joshua Tree in California for a fresh take on the boho look.
Biggest challenges and successes in creating your brand so far?
The current situation is one of the hardest challenges we have faced as a business, but our head office team has adapted quickly to working remotely and we have stringent social distancing procedures in place in order to keep the delivery side of the business running safely. We launched the brand twelve years ago during the recession, at a time when buying furniture online was relatively unheard of, so we feel the business is rooted in weathering adverse circumstances and that gives us the confidence to know we will emerge from the current challenges intact.
In terms of successes, there have been many ‘wins’ we have enjoyed over the years, big and small – but the one that stands out for me is when the business reached a point where my husband was able to leave his job to join the brand full-time.
That ‘Aha!’ moment when you were recognised and knew you had created something special?
One design trend you are loving and one you are glad is over?
I am really enjoying the current trend for personality-led accessories – faces, boobs and bums on everything from vases to prints and textiles. Our customers can’t get enough of these items at the moment and the team have also been buying them for our own homes.
I am pleased the shabby chic trend is over; it was definitely a trend that lingered far too long.
Chatting with bohemian loving Anna Hayman who describes herself as enduringly obsessed with pattern, crafts, and design. We have a chat about her brand and some of the notable surface pattern prints that she uses on fabrics, wallpapers and lampshades featured all over the interiors world.
When did you realise your passion for interior design?
This makes me think of when I was a little girl, my friend Sarah used to get infuriated with me, as instead of playing with our dolls I would spend all the time setting up the interiors scenes! I was insistent to get the right layout, decor and mood, that the actual playing was always secondary haha. But in adulthood, I suppose my passion for interior design, and the belief and realisation of my own projects, has been evolving over the last four years. Through gaining experience, insight and shaping (and reshaping) my own home, I’ve learned the necessary skills to take it from a dream to a reality. Now I’m on the brink of completing my first two residential projects, I am excited to install and ‘bank’ these into my portfolio.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
What has your journey into the world of interiors been like?
Because of instagram, it has been extremely welcoming. I’ve really been guided by the customer, and have navigated building a brand aided by this rich and rewarding tool. Working with River Island curating a bar area for their flagship store was an emboldening experience, edging my confidence up to curate and design whole spaces rather than purely products. And now through working with Greg Penn, @manwithahammer I have gained experience in working with residential clients, and period properties. Now I’m emerging more as an interior designer, the journey gets even more exciting as new opportunities are arising, even in lockdown!
Biggest challenges and successes in creating your brand so far?
I never know what to say re biggest challenges, when I get asked this, which I guess means it’s been a pretty easy ride. The thing is, this isn’t a job for me. I would do what I’m doing whether it made money or not, whether people liked it or not, so that fact that my designs ‘chime’ with lots of people is brilliant, but not necessary to me doing it. I’m an artist, I guess, and feel good that I’ve managed to create a recognised business from my love of pattern and texture. I’d never say I’m lucky, I’ve worked hard and thought hard, and I know I deserve my success. My proudest moment I think was when my design was picked out of over 1500 to grace the cover of Thames and Hudson book ‘Pattern Design’ as many of my heroes are encompassed. It also feels good that Liberty, Harrods and Bergdorf Goodman all came to me for my products, that really means it’s working!
Who is the quintessential Anna Hayman Designs customer?
I truly love my customers, they echo my feelings about the world in a way that is expressed through their homes. This dance between us is what I cherish and celebrate. They are knowledgable, primarily I guess. They are brave, and want their homes to be the ultimate expression of who they are. I recently gained a client who had been looking for the right printed cushions for four years, and both her and her husband fell in love with my designs, and have used my cushions in every room. This discerning customer is my favourite, almost the opposite of an impulse buyer haha. It’s ok to think hard about your home, especially now we are spending soooo much time in them.
What are your best sellers?
Bibana ,Siouxsie and Pearl are our bestselling designs. I think Bibana for her arts and crafts historical feel, Siouxsie for her pretty detail and rock n roll soul, and Pearl for that jazz age decadent vibe.
That “Aha!” moment when you were recognized and knew you created something special?
When I exhibited at Top Drawer in January 2016, I took the first parachute lampshade samples which caught the eye of Rockett St. George. When we photographed these on a dark background, and they were picked up by instagrammers such a Nicola Broughton
@the_girl_with_the_green_sofa the business slipped into the dark interiors scene, burgeoned by Abigail Ahern, I then realised really who my market were, and what I needed to make more of. It became a bit of a whirlwind after that, and I’m only just catching up now and really starting to strategise and plan ranges properly. My sister now works alongside me, and is planning to head up retail operations, leaving me free to explore more interior design and product design. This is an exciting plan for the coming year as I really then get to focus on the parts I’m most passionate about.
One design trend you are loving and one that you are glad is over?
I am absolutely loving a self skirted chair right now, and giant loungers. Anywhere you can sink down and dream/read. An item I’d like to see the back of is bar carts, too kitsch for me sorry!
Today we are speaking with Helen Orrock aka @theinteriorslady who has created her ideal home while downsizing into a beautiful monochrome and sleek interior space.
When did you realise you had a passion for interior design?
It probably all stems back to when I was a child. I remember around GCSE time I was making my own curtains, bedspreads and cushion covers. I then kind of bypassed it entirely until I started investing in property that I got back into it. I had cancer a while back, and it made me stop and re-assess what I wanted to do and that was to open a little interior shop which is what kept me driven and motivated through treatment. I ran my own store for 5 years until re relocated to the city. I did an interiors course at the national design academy, fortunate enough that it was in my hometown of Nottingham. It gave me enough skills to pursue the career I wanted to do . I love seeing the potential in any space and helping people finding their own style.
Clients don't always realize that an interior designer can help you gain value in your home, not just with a big extension or full remodel but also in smaller elements that are crucial to the good function of an interior space such as proper layout planning and creating lovely areas within the home. This gives both me and my clients great pleasure, when we can find new life in a client’s current possessions.
What is your process with your clients?
What if a client picks something you don't like during one of your shopping visits?
I've got one of those faces where I can’t hide my emotions so I will be very honest with them and tell them that I don't think it would work in the space. I am brutal, but it’s for their own good. The issue with shopping trips is that you sometimes don't find exactly what you are looking for, so it might take multiple trips or going to various stores to find the item that is just right! You need to be happy to walk out with nothing if you just don't find what you want. Overall, we always end up becoming friends as it’s such a close way to work with someone.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Very neural and monochrome, with layers of texture. I have a very restricted colour palate, with a strong emphasis on the black tone. I introduce texture with wools, sheep skins, and textiles. Another extra element is green from plants and foliage.
Biggest design no-no
Following an immediate trend that doesn't work for you or trying to copy an interior you see without thinking how it adapts to your personality or lifestyle. Also, I think that compromising on quality is another big no-no. Things like bedding, or hardware or upholstery need to be investments as you interact with them so closely. I'd rather have less but better quality.
What is your top pet peeve in your home?
We are lucky not to have any things that annoy us in our home. This happened as we did a lot of planning and predicted the issues before we completed this project. The biggest hurdle was to create the spaces that we needed due to downsizing but it allowed us to get exactly what we wanted. If I were to re-do this home, I would make all the same decisions. But I'm not sure if this is our forever home, by embracing a more minimal life, it has made me realise that I can live with a lot less. So, my next step is to build my own affordable, sustainable, minimal Scandinavian hut, it’s something for me to look forward to.
Tell me a little bit about your journey into Pooky lighting
It has a been a relatively tortuous journey but incredibly fun! I initially qualified as a lawyer, but soon realised it wasn’t the thing for me. So, I jumped ship and went into catering for the best part of 20 years operating a variety of different businesses from restaurants, soup wholesale, commercial catering and eventually to high end food delivery services. That was amazingly fun and challenging. My business partner and I then decided to go into sofas and focus mainly online. At the time it was pretty revolutionary and despite lots of discouragement we slowly built the business of sofa.com up over 7-8 years. I started to live and breathe the shapes, fabrics, colours and spring systems. After selling up I decided to go into lighting, because lights are the number 1 thing that one should think about in their house. They make such a profound impact to the interior and the mood of any space. Equally I love the fact that you can turn anything into a light, you can be as creative or as wacko as you like and have a lot of fun with lighting.
It is clear how passionate you are about the importance of beauty and form and despite not specifically having come from a design background you have a definite understanding and appreciation of it, be it in sofa design or lighting. Did you self-teach along your journey?
How would you describe the Pooky aesthetic?
Who would you say is your quintessential customer?
What have been your biggest challenges with setting up Pooky lighting?
Our biggest challenge was getting brand recognition and awareness as well as taking a big financial risk. Because we wanted to sell pieces at an affordable price, we had to invest and buy lights in bulk. So, I had a warehouse full of thousands of lights, of which we didnt know would sell. I was there holding my breath, looking at my website, hoping that someone would come on and buy. Design is a risky business - you have as many flops as hits, you get better over time obviously, but no one has any certainty.
What are your best sellers and which styles are less popular?
(Chuckling slightly) Well now, the Metro light - is a beautiful slightly industrial, solid brass light in various finishes with a very strong design, but surprisingly not many people buy it! On the other hand, our best seller is the light called Trafalgar - it has a very simple design, a solid brass obelisk. It is very elegant but contemporary. It came from an offcut of brass on the floor that I saw in a foundry in Portugal which we put a very flat base on and kept it very minimal in design. Another light that is doing very well is the Stucco, we spent a long time agonizing over how big those petals would be, the shape of the light, how far apart the rows of petals should be.
When did you have that big "AHA!" moment when you realized that you were creating something special?
I don't like to be complacent about what we do, because the moment you start thinking that you have cracked it that is when the edifice starts to collapse, but it is great to read the feedback on our site. We have recently hit 10k reviews and virtually all of them are 5star reviews. Some of them are really quite moving as some people are really grateful of what we do.
What are one of the interior trends that you are loving right now and one that you are glad is over?
What is the next thing that you are working on?
We are launching our outdoor lighting which is exciting. People tend to be less brave with outdoor lighting as they see them as functional lights. We are trying to create a range of swan necks and lanterns that add that extra decorative edge to outdoor spaces.
The glorious weather recently has really inspired us to spend more time outside and really appreciate our outdoor spaces. So we thought it would be a great time to show you what has grabbed our attention with this seasons outdoor furniture and get ready for summer early! Have a look at a selection of our favourite pieces and click to shop!
Kicking things off with this stunning concrete table which seats 5-6 people so you can have a feast outdoors in style and not have to worry about not lasting the season.
Pair that table with these stunning Acacia chairs and you are onto a winner! These are great for indoor and outdoor use you can bring them into your breakfast area when the season is over and keep the summer vibes going throught the year!
I love an outdoor rug. Firstly it really brings the indoors-out! Thereby making that seating area or space more homely. It also helps with zoning larger outdoor spaces if they all have the same flooring. For example if you had a large deck or a paved area, and part of it was dining and the rest lounging, you can put the rug under one of those zones to really make it its own space within the paved area!
I love a fluted zinc planter and these ones have a lovely shape which makes them superb for both contemporary and classic spaces. Plant them up with verdants and aromatics near your seating to really create a show stopping space.
Get the fire side seating just right. You want a chair that you can snuggle into get cosy. How about this gorgeous chair with modern vibes that is great for sitting fireside with a glass of merlot!
Speaking of fireside, you will need a fire pit! I love fire! I love the smell of well seasoned wood and I love the flames. Get a fire pit, drink some wine and get cosy! This geometric shaped fire pit has all the statement of a sculpture with the joy of being able to take all that heat. Put some logs in it and light it up!
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