What the top designers put in their own homes
Emily Brooks reveals the brands and products that are coveted by the cream of the interiors world
When home owners hire an interior designer, they’re not just seeking out someone with creative flair, or a professional who can take the headache out of a building project. Intimate knowledge of the best products – from picture frames to mattresses – is an important part of the package, too.
“People definitely come to us for brand knowledge – we have the ability to pass on our favourites from years of experience,” says Staffan Tollgard, who straddles both worlds as an interior designer who also runs a furniture and lighting showroom. “Interior design is very much about passing on knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, and the older you get, the more experience you gain.” Here, Tollgard and other designers give us a glimpse into their address books, as well as revealing some of the brands that their clients repeatedly request.
Beds and linen
“I had a client who insisted that the beds were exactly the same spec as the Dorchester,” says Rupert Martineau of architecture and interior design firm SHH. German company Mühldorfer supplies the esteemed hotel’s pillows (sold via the Dorchester’s online shop), but Martineau even sourced the same Vispring mattress for his client, despite the fact that it was a special model made only for the hotel.
Tollgard is also a big fan of Vispring, ever since he was invited to stay over at a client’s house and had “the best night’s sleep ever” on one of its mattresses. “You don’t always get feedback from clients after a project has finished, but I’ve had quite a few tell me how amazing their mattress is,” he says.
Ever wondered where you can get one of those televisions that rise majestically from a cabinet at the foot of the bed? Fleur Liversidge of Studio Indigo has a recommendation. “Cornflake is our go-to supplier for motorised mechanisms for TVs,” she says. “No one is that keen to look at a black screen hanging on the wall, so most of our projects have a pop-up TV trunk. Alternatively there are mechanisms that allow the TV to hide underneath the bed, negating the need for cabinetry.”
Designers’ furniture recommendations are as diverse as the projects they work on. At the cool and contemporary end of the spectrum, Tollgard loves Italian brand Flexform, especially its sofas. A personal favourite of Michael Phillips, from Phillips Tracey Architects, is Carl Hansen & Son, as well as British companies Benchmark and Pinch: all make beautifully crafted, modern timber furniture. At the top end, it’s bespoke all the way: Joe Burns of Oliver Burns uses decorative upholsterer Aiveen Daly to add wow-factor to dining chairs and headboards with intricate pleats, folds and embroidery. “Her work is really unusual and different, and she can work something simple like a chair into something amazing,” says Burns. Designer Brian Wade of Tim Flynn Architects loves Cox London’s furniture and lighting, made with a fine art sensibility. For a recent Knightsbridge project (total fixtures and fittings budget: £2 million), he installed a pair of Cox tables, with bronze legs in the shape of serpents.
The decline in traditional antique shops continues, but your favourite high-street dealer may well have moved to Lorfords in the Cotswolds.
Interior designers love this multi-venued enterprise (it runs across two aircraft hangars in Babdown, near Tetbury) because of its one-stop-shop nature and highquality stock.
In London, interior designer Henriette von Stockhausen loves Guinevere, an antiques shop on the King’s Road. “I adore going there – it’s an Aladdin’s cave,” she says. “They very cleverly put room sets together, which helps when I take clients there, because they can image how things will work at home.” Von Stockhausen particularly covets the textiles, including antique bedspreads and lampshades made from vintage saris.
Designers are now expected to have an intimate yet global knowledge of the best dealers and fairs for sourcing artwork.
When it comes to framing these important investment pieces, from classic black-and-white photography to a delicate watercolour, the experts turn to John Jones Framers.
“Artwork determines the mood of a space, and choosing the right frame is very important,” says interior designer Maurizio Pellizzoni.
“John Jones helps you to choose the right frames for each style of interior and makes sure that each piece of art is framed properly and beautifully. It’s a boutique service from beginning to end.”
Aladdin’s cave: the fabric room at Guinevere, the King’s Road antique shop, above; the TV pops out the trunk, designed by Cornflake, in a Studio Indigo bedroom, right
Tucked in: the Vispring mattress, left, is made in Devon and used at The Dorchester
Writing on the wall: a home in Ascot designed by Maurizio Pellizzoni, with picture framing by John Jones Framers
Shapely: the Anders light, above, £1,210, and the Clyde side table, below, from £620, both from Pinch