Celebrating design heritage at Decorex

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I am delighted to have been invited to write a blog article for Decorex 2012, focusing on this year’s theme of Design Heritage.  This is something that, as an interior designer, I have a passion for, as every design scheme that I create incorporates elements of design heritage, whether it be selecting a piece that pays homage to a particular era or culture, or looking for a build quality that will withstand the test of time, or questioning whether it has been produced in a sustainable way.

So what exactly is heritage?  According to the Oxford dictionary, it is:

Heritage, noun valued objects and qualities such as historic buildings and cultural traditions that have been passed down from previous generations; denoting a traditional brand or product regarded as emblematic of fine craftsmanship.

Design heritage is all about creating an environment that enables us to celebrate and engage with the past, whilst looking forward to a bright future.  It is about realising that today’s design will form tomorrow’s design heritage, and embracing these changes.

One of my passions when it comes to the heritage of design, are the design influences that we have inherited from Asia – whether it be the middle East, the Indian sub-continent, or the far East.  I simply adore the ancient architecture, patterns, textiles, ceramics, and furniture designs that come from this part of the world, and I frequently blog about these in my own blog.  However, I also love mixing these time honoured designs with the clean, modern lines that come from Scandinavian design, and that will form part of our design heritage of today.  Mixing these two areas of design gives a wonderful eclectic scheme which is what I love.

So, how does design heritage apply to Decorex?  Well, quite simply because many of the companies exhibiting at this exciting show are incorporating elements of heritage in the products that they are creating today.  Many companies at Decorex are obviously inspired by previous design heritages or are exhibiting products which will epitomise the design heritage of this era. Whilst browsing through the list of exhibitors as part of the research for this article, I was astonished at the number of great examples of companies where this is the case. Unfortunately there are too many to cover here but I wanted to highlight some of the companies that really stood out for me in terms of highlighting their design heritage, whether it be through using time honoured production methods, traditional materials or internationally inspired patterns.

Textiles

Nicola Holden

1 Abraham Moon & Sons produce beautiful traditional and contemporary tweeds and tartans using a combination of old and new equipment and processes. 2 John Boyd Textiles produce woven horsehair fabrics in their Castle Cary factory using the original looms and techniques of over 125 years ago. 3 The distinctive fabrics from Malabar are produced in Kerala, in south west India by spinners, dyers and weavers using time honoured skills handed down from generation to generation. 4 MYB Textiles was founded in 1900 and prides itself on its heritage of producing lace on original Nottingham Lace Looms, some of which are over 90 years old.

Furniture

Nicola Holden

1 So many furniture makers pride themselves with the heritage of their craftsmanship and it was hard to choose just one, but Jonathan Charles Fine Furniture highlights that they ‘employ age-old techniques, which breathe soul and lasting-quality into our products’. 2 Moissonnier also employ traditional skills in painting, sculpture and cabinetmaking, but they also pass on their design heritage of beautiful French-style furniture. 3 Talking about international design heritage, who better to highlight than Altfield, who specialise in beautiful 18th &19th Century Ming style country furniture from China. 4 The Hästens name is synonymous with the ultimate in bed quality, achieved through their 150 year heritage of making beds by hand using only natural materials.

Rugs

Nicola Holden

1 Rugs from The Rug Company are entirely handmade in Nepal, using the finest natural yarns, by craftsmen whose skills have been passed down for generations.  The Rug Company also pride themselves in producing rugs ‘that will become heirlooms to be cherished forever’. 2 Atlantico Rugs use the 800 year-old Arraiolos long-armed cross-stitch to produce their range of Portuguese tapestry rugs for wall hangings and floor coverings.

Wallpaper

Nicola Holden

1 Barneby Gates create their wallpaper designs using quintessentially old English ideas and symbols, giving classical concepts a contemporary twist, often incorporating a wry touch of humour. 2 The heritage of the wallpapers from Biden Designs is twofold.  Firstly, this paper uses historical Japanese washi paper made of 'Kozo' (fibres of the Japanese mulberry tree).  Then, applied to this paper is a unique processes of gilt oxidation and corrosion, developed by Gabor Ulveczki, who was granted a prestigious Entereprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living French Heritage Enterprise) in 2007.

Tiles

Nicola Holden

1 De Ferranti pride themselves on producing  luxurious surfaces for floors and walls through replicating the style of important historical buildings from Rome and Athens, through North Africa and the Middle East to India and South East Asia, often reviving decorative techniques that are lost to the majority of today’s artisans. 2 Habibi Moroccan Tiles produce genuine hand-crafted Moroccan Zellige tiles which have been used throughout the Islamic world for thousands of years. 

I could go on picking out examples of lighting, accessories, bathroom fittings, etc, that utilise elements of design heritage, but I shall end this post here.  Hopefully I have inspired some intrigue into the design heritage of your favourite home products!

Nicola Holden Designs is a boutique interior design company specialising in bringing outstanding contemporary design and decoration to all areas of residential interiors.  To read more of Nicola’s blogs please go to www.nicolaholdendesigns.co.uk/blog, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.