Mix Interiors 230

Page 1







50 16

Upfront Projects, products and people through a futurecentric lens.

26 Things I’ve learnt Manuela Mannino and Nicholas J Hickson, cofounders of THDP, share their biggest career takeaways. 28 Height of design London-based product designer Amechi Mandi discusses the one item he sees as design at its best.

30 Paradoxically speaking Neil Usher, VP of Places at software company Sage, explains the reality of building great workspaces. 32 In conversation with: Martin Brudnizki The founder of MBDS on creating a fantasy, designing for emotion and why maximalism means having something to say.


In conversation with: Doshi Levien Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien discuss crosscultural expression and the plurality of design at their Indian-British studio.

48 View from the outside Architect, curator and urbanist Madeleine Kessler explores the potential of smart city design. 50 Case study: Broadwick Live, London Exploring Holloway Li’s 80s-inspired HQ in Canary Wharf.

Mix Interiors

56 Case study: Mama Shelter, Dijon The playful hotel brand bringing its interpretation of Burgundian spirit to the South of France. 64 Case Study: Author This boutique hotel-inspired BTR project by Conran and Partners is a lesson in urban redevelopment. 72

Case study: Newmains & St Brigid’s A primary school and community centre, BDP’s latest project invests in a former mining village in Scotland.



93 86



Case study: SQB, Canary Wharf SODA Studio transforms a waterside workplace in London’s corporate heartland for an anti-corporate generation.

84 Positive Impact Perkins&Will’s Adam Strudwick revisits his sustainable predictions for the A&D industry.

86 Fast forward We unpack the growing field of bio-design and how microorganisms could be the key to a more sustainable (and more beautiful) future. 90 Designing for difference Shawn Adams, cofounder of POoR Collective, asks the question: is the design industry elitist? 92 Mix Roundtable with Impact Acoustic What are we getting wrong about circularity?


100 Mix Roundtable with Amtico How can the next generation of designers leave a lasting impression? 110 Events Our round-up of the industry’s most anticipated events, from Stockholm to Clerkenwell. 112 Material Matters A-nrd Studio’s Alessio Nardi and Lukas Persakova share the materials their practice use to contribute towards a circular design economy .

Mix Interiors

113 Material Innovation Research and design studio bioMATTERS crafts sustainable, biodegradable interior tiles by 3D-printing mycelium and algae. 114 Mix talking point It’s 2024, and we’re all going to die. 116 The Ask Tina Norden, principal and coowner at Conran and Partners, asks: is AI the future or the end of everything?

by Dams


M O D U L A R S E AT I N G socialspacesfurniture.com

Colophon The cover

Deputy Editor Chloé Petersen Snell chloe@mixinteriors.com Editorial Assistant Charlotte Slinger charlotte@mixinteriors.com Managing Director Leon March leon@mixinteriors.com Account Manager Stuart Sinclair stuart@mixinteriors.com Account Manager Patrick Bowley patrick@mixinteriors.com Marketing Manager Paul Appleby paul@mixinteriors.com


Events & Editorial Executive Yasmin Waters yasmin@mixinteriors.com Art Director Marçal Prats marcal@mixinteriors.com

Taking the concept of Ege’s new SHE carpet collection – which features patterns that honour the work of pioneering female artists throughout history – the cover design applies one of these patterns, whilst including references to another inspiring female artist, as selected by Squire & Partners. The design practice took inspiration from the contemporary work of Op Art artist Bridget Riley to inform the colour palette, weaving the Mix logo into the fabric of the pattern to create the final design.

The SHE collection features six carpet designs celebrating female artists. Following a particular fascination of the preferred techniques of the 1930s’ and 1940s’ artists, all six SHE patterns are made by hand to embrace the unique expression of a line that’s either drawn, cut or put together by physical materials. The designs originate from interpretations of distinctive patterns created by different weaving techniques, experimental expressionistic shapes or, in contrast, simple and graphic paintings.





To ensure that a regular copy of Mix Interiors reaches you or to request back issues, call 0161 519 4850 or email lisa@mixinteriors.com

Unit 2 Abito, 85 Greengate, Manchester M3 7NA

Annual Subscription Charges UK single £45.50 Europe £135 (airmail) Outside Europe £165 (airmail)

Board Director Marcie Incarico

Telephone 0161 519 4850 editorial@mixinteriors.com www.mixinteriors.com Twitter @mixinteriors Instagram @mix.interiors LinkedIn Mix Interiors


228 Issue 227

Founding publisher Henry Pugh


Managing Editor Harry McKinley harry@mixinteriors.com

Head of Operations Lisa Jackson lisa@mixinteriors.com



Get in touch


Columnists Shawn Adams Madeleine Kessler Tina Norden Neil Usher Contributors Rima Sabina Aouf Clare Dowdy Lauren Jade Hill Dominic Lutyens

Mix Interiors Issue 230 February 2024

Mix Interiors

Printed by S&G Print ISSN 1757-2371

07/08 2023

Harry McKinley

Welcome In a recent conversation with Martin Brudnizki (p32) he explained to me that maximalism – the bold, sensorially-stimulating style for which he has become synonymous – is all about having something to say. It is, perhaps, an idea that could be applied to design writ large: an industry that, whether on a micro or a macro scale, is all about saying something. It speaks to society and culture; to tradition and progress; to communities and the environments that shape them. The best designers and the best designs are those with a point of view. For Brudnizki, it’s all about beauty while, for the founders of Doshi Levien (p40) it’s about joy and the intersection of ideas. Our Mix Roundtables are, similarly, always about having something to say. They’d be rather dull if they weren’t. But this issue the conversations feel particularly urgent and prescient – in partnership with Impact Acoustic, a discussion on circularity and where we’re getting things wrong (p92); while, in partnership with Amtico, we hear from the next generation of design talent, a roundtable composed entirely of those from our 30 Under 30 Class of ’23. Our case studies also serve as a radical expression of ideas, each of them a bold treatise on the direction of travel – across workplace, hospitality, education and BTR. From a primary school and community hub south-east Mix Interiors

of Glasgow (p72) to an anticorporate workplace in London’s corporate heartland, Canary Wharf (p78), many of these are about shattering the mould and challenging orthodoxy; brave new visions for a new time. Across the wider Mix ecosystem, we’re also evolving to say something about what exceptional design means today – now, in a slightly different accent. Mixology, our industry-leading awards programme, has become Mix Awards. Though it reflects the same commitment to recognising the most extraordinary projects, products and people, this year we’ll be introducing a few novel flourishes, alongside the name update. Entries are open, with categories and details on how to submit work found at mixinteriors.com – the main event at Evolution London on the 27th June, with tickets also available to buy online now. Finally, you can’t have failed to have digested our cover – inspired by the work of artist Bridget Riley and creatively developed by Squire & Partners, in an ode to Ege’s SHE collection. Buoyant and confident, it’s a dazzling statement on maximalism, creativity and collaboration. In an issue all about having something to say, you didn’t expect something quiet, did you? Harry McKinley Managing Editor


To say wool carpet doesn’t last is a bit of a stretch

Our new WOOL100 carpet collection, SHE, is crafted from 100% pure new wool spun from extra-long fibres perfectly matching the durability of mixed wool/nylon qualities. Developed to pamper all senses, SHE is an extraordinary aesthetic experience featuring eight colour combinations and six patterns made by hand. The collection pays tribute to unsung female designers and textile frontrunners of the past. SHE explores the raw, imperfect and organic by embracing old weaving techniques, making the collection beautifully timeless.


sustainable design at your feet

Captivating new colours that reflect the earth’s natural wonders. Expertly developed and mindfully curated to expand not just your colour palette but also your design possibilities. New four colours available across all our product range. Cube™ Panels in Caspian

Scan below to learn more

Time for


Decorative Collection 24+

Always inspiring. Always up to date. Discover our new collection, featuring a unique variety of tried and tested on-trend decors, easy to access on our website or app. Our innovative rolling collection concept ensures all the latest in design and digital, and our inspirational trend capsules trigger new ideas and opportunities. Discover the new Decorative Collection 24+ to.egger.link/decorative-collection

All our shown and mentioned decors are reproductions.

Circular acoustic solutions All our acoustic products are made from waste materials such as discarded cotton linters or upcycled PET bottles. Manufactured in Europe to your specific needs. Now available in UK and Ireland. Visit impactacoustic.com or contact us today at uk@impactacoustic.com to learn more.

ARCHISONIC® Cotton is a natural product solution that solves the problem of sound absorption while being fully circular. The tiles are completely reusable and 100% of the sound absorbers can be returned to the production process at the end of their life.

Manchester’s electric dreams Originally greenlit back in December 2020, Hawkins\Brown and General Projects have announced major developments to their ambitious 350,000 sq ft Manchester office complex, Electric Park. Based in New Islington, plans for this all-electric campus promise a world-class, environmentally conscious hub where small and medium-sized businesses can grow and thrive. And while these core principles for the project remain the same, architect Hawkins\ Brown has unveiled a new direction for its aesthetic approach.


Departing from the contemporary, industrial aesthetic first submitted to Manchester City Council, the updated plans for Electric Park have a more traditional feel. Sleek aluminium has been replaced by red brick facades, suggesting a smoother cohesion with the historic warehouses and cotton mills lining the city’s canals. As well as modifying the exterior, the team has also revised the interior layout, adding extra facilities on the ground floor such as a gym and flexible coworking zones, accounting for the changing needs of today’s workforce. These updates may require fresh planning permission, but will form a key part of the project’s people- and planet-centric ethos.


Alongside a car-free policy and access to low carbon transport such as the tram, General Projects aims to increase New Islington’s biodiversity by planting 55 new mature trees in the surrounding two acres of green space. A strong community focus also underpins the project, proposing student mentorship programmes and an initiative that provides 25 free workspaces every year to local residents starting a new business. hawkinsbrown.com

The future of fabrics


Aiming to push the boundaries of the sector, Heimtextil – the world’s largest international textile fair – celebrated the new year by announcing its collaboration with Milan-based heavyweight designer, Patricia Urquiola. Still in its early research stages, the project will be launched at Heimtextil in January 2025, where as many as 28,000 international exhibitors will meet in Frankfurt to discuss industry-defining trends and innovative collections from across 60 countries. A well-renowned, multi-disciplinary talent in textiles, Urquiola’s eponymous studio leads with sustainability, innovation and technology. For instance, her team is interested in the ever-growing field of bio-fabrics, where micro-organisms such as fungal mycelium can provide a more energy-efficient method of growing textiles. Another favoured practice is 3D printing, due to its ability to eliminate wasted raw materials with precision


cutting. The upcoming collaboration therefore promises to be as technically innovative as it is creative, intended to provide an insight into what the textile industry of the future could look like. Partnering with an experimental designer (with Urquiola’s credits spanning across retail, residential and workplace, as well as fashion and art installations) may also help Heimtextil create a more immersive experience for its visitors. “The collaboration was prompted by a shared passion and vision for creative undertakings, trend dialogues and sustainability solutions in the world of textile design,” says Olaf Schmidt, Vice President of Textiles and Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt Group. “[Urquiola’s] global work continues to show the critical role design plays in the world we live in.” heimtextil.messefrankfurt.com

www.oeelectrics.co.uk +44 (0) 1924 367255

Cardiff’s cultural investment

With a unanimous vote in December 2023, Cardiff Council has given its seal of approval for a new cultural hub in the city centre. Alongside London-based architects Patel Taylor, Thackery Group developers has won planning permission to transform the former Howells department store and adjacent Bethany Chapel into a vibrant new quarter for retail, residential and hospitality spaces to thrive. The Howells Cardiff complex will retain the historic facades of five of its core buildings (The Walter, The Percy, The Bethany, The Hayes and The Warehouse) while also incorporating several contemporary additions including bars, restaurants and roof terraces. Patel Taylor plans to extend and retrofit part of the Grade-II listed building, while central structures from the site – including outdated post-war buildings – will be demolished to create a new public realm square. Here, developers envision



a lively community atmosphere, with an array of hospitality destinations planned across the ground floor of the former Howells store and the recently restored Bethany Chapel (which has been obscured from public view for the last 50 years). Joining similar redevelopment projects taking place in Central Quay, Saint David’s II and Central Square, this ambitious project is part of a wider scheme of investment in the Welsh capital. And with 60 new studio apartments proposed within the fourstorey extension and new rooftop structure, residents of Cardiff can begin to anticipate an emerging community-led quarter where they can live, work and socialise – just a stone’s throw from the iconic Principality Stadium.

Designed & Made in France

Balsan, the esteemed French manufacturer of textile floor coverings, unveils a vivid range of high-quality carpets, carpet tiles, and LVT solutions for both public and private spaces. Introducing new pastel colours inspired by the Pantone Colour of the Year, Peach Fuzz, these gentle hues not only reflect modern design trends but also promote wellness, transforming your environment with luminous charm!


en.balsan.com @BalsanUK


A historic redevelopment As part of the ambitious Waterfront Transformation Project, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios) has been tapped for a major redevelopment of Liverpool's International Slavery Museum. The British studio, which champions sustainable, democratic and socially responsible design, is set to helm the £58 million project that reimagines both the iconic Dr Martin Luther King Jr. building and Hartley Pavilion. Despite taking over from the formerly appointed Adjaye Associates, FCBStudios has played a key part in the high-profile redevelopment from the beginning: creating the original


masterplan for the National Museums' waterfront sites in 2019 and supporting its successful bid for the National Heritage Lottery Fund programme in 2020. The studio plans to create dynamic, peoplecentric spaces that profoundly address the impact of human slavery – both historic and contemporary. “We understand that there is huge responsibility to help create a platform to tell this story, long whispered, yet still awaiting the space to fully express itself,” explains FCBStudios partner, Kossy Nnachetta. “We hope to help create something bold yet beautiful, the result of


‘many hands’ working together with the museums and communities in Liverpool.” Stating that there has never been a more important time to address the legacy of slavery, with this historic redevelopment the museum hopes to meaningfully confront the role the city has played in British imperialism. FCBStudios also plans to consult members of the University of Liverpool School of Architecture, including Head of School, Professor Ola Uduku, while Ralph Appelbaum Associates continues to lead the internal exhibition design.

Scan the QR code to see the full Kuppel range.


Personal Workspace

Connection Furniture Connectionfurnitureltd Connection Connectionpin Connectiontweet

Lunar lodgings As space travel leaves the realms of science fiction, engineers and architects are increasingly looking towards the heavens. This great leap for mankind is what Hassell has envisioned in its latest project, the Lunar Habitat Master Plan, conceived alongside the European Space Agency. Unveiled in January 2024, the groundbreaking modular base would be the first permanent human settlement on the moon. Despite the ambitious architecture, the project conveys a clear vision for how our space-exploring communities could not just survive, but thrive, in space. The scalable habitat is situated on the edge of the Shackleton


Crater (chosen for its near-constant sunlight), and can accommodate up to 144 astronauts living without a natural atmosphere, water or oxygen. “Moving to space is very expensive, so we knew that any prefabricated elements had to be light and compact,” said Xavier De Kestelier, Principal and Global Head of Design at Hassell. “We were therefore inspired to use ‘Drop Stitch’ material to design the flat panels; this hightech fabric is made from intertwining polyester threads that are incredibly stable when inflated, often seen in standup inflatable paddle boards.”


Hassell’s settlement includes recreational and social spaces as well as research hubs, vast communal greenhouses and furniture made from space-grown bamboo. “We wanted to make use of the materials already available on the moon – bar chairs by Nagami, for example, would be 3D-printed from lunar waste plastics, and the furniture design also playfully upcycles salvaged spacecraft, such as seating crafted from an Apollo Moon Rover and spare rocket engine parts.” hassellstudio.com

Mix 30 under 30 Class of 2024 The rising stars of commercial interior design and architecture Nominations now open: mixinteriors.com/events


Things I've learnt Design more, use less

Designing for sustainability is crucial because it focuses on creating products, systems and environments that minimise negative impacts on the environment, promote social wellbeing and ensure economic viability. Our approach to refinishing, upscaling, upcycling and reusing is rooted in the urgent need to conserve resources, reduce pollution and create a resilient and equitable future for both current and future generations.

Trust yourself and be instinctive Manuela Mannino and Nicholas J Hickson are the co-founders of THDP, a leading hospitality interior design practice with studios in London and Milan. thdpdesign.com

Trusting yourself and embracing your own design instincts is vital because it allows for the creation of more authentic and innovative solutions. Design is a form of self-expression and confidence in your unique perspective – by not overcomplicating things – fosters the development of genuinely original ideas that can stand out in a crowded landscape. It enables you to push boundaries, challenge norms and contribute to the solution of design in meaningful ways.

Develop a good relationship with your suppliers and artisans

Trusting your suppliers and artisans in the design process is key – it fosters collaboration and ensures the quality, authenticity and ethical standards of the final product. Establishing a strong relationship with suppliers not only promotes better communication, but it enables a better understanding of materials and craftsmanship too. This trust also encourages a sense of shared responsibility, leading to a more sustainable and harmonious design process.


Mix Interiors

Take the time to wander

Taking the time to wander and understand a place is essential for us because it allows us to grasp the local culture, environment and unique characteristics of the location – for example, when we design a hotel. By immersing oneself in the local context, as designers we can capture the essence of that destination. This first-hand experience enables the creation of a place that not only integrates seamlessly into its surroundings, but also offers a more authentic, immersive and enriching experience for those using it.

Talk to your clients and listen to them

It might seem obvious, but in the design process, talking to the client and actively listening to their needs is crucial. This dialogue ensures, of course, that the final design aligns with their vision, brand identity and business goals. By understanding the client's preferences, target audience and operational requirements, designers can tailor the spaces to meet specific objectives. Ultimately, however, effective communication builds trust and fosters a positive, collaborative relationship.

For more information about our Zodiac Smart Locking System

If you need advice or are looking for a bespoke solution, contact our expert team today. T: 0121 505 0400 E: sales@lowe-and-fletcher.co.uk W: www.lowe-and-fletcher.co.uk

Amechi Mandi

The height of design The item

Ro Chair by Jaime Hayon for Fritz Hansen

Why does this item represent the ‘height of design’ for you?

Amechi Mandi is a Londonbased product designer whose work is informed by nature and his cultural heritage, with a focus on indigenous Nigerian and Cameroonian textiles and cultures. December 2020 saw the launch of his eponymous brand Amechi, soon followed by curating museum exhibitions – such as at Mingei Museum in San Diego California – and working with a growing list of collaborators. amechihome.com @amechi.mandi

I like too many things to choose just one product that sums up the height of design – I usually get confused when asked ‘what's your favourite this or that?’ because I simply have too many favourites. It gets very blurred. So instead of an absolute, I have chosen one of the very many. I love design that has an element of liveliness, a certain quirk, innocence, outside thinking or playfulness. Jaime Hayon’s designs encompass all of those things; his work never fails to capture my attention. One of my favourite pieces of his work is the Ro armchair for Fritz Hansen, a re-imagined version of the classic sculptural wingback lounge chair.

How does it inspire you or your work?

It’s an elegant design that invites playfulness with form while maintaining optimum comfort, named after the Danish word for ‘tranquillity.’ I love the subtle shape, especially how the neck of the chair curves inwards, almost like a 19th century shirt collar – almost to suggest it is enveloping and protecting you in a tranquil space. The combination of tradition and modernity is inspiring; the wingback chair has been re-imagined in countless and sometimes amazing ways, but the inspiration here for me is it shows the work and thought process of someone who isn’t just another ‘form and function’ obsessed designer.

What do you think has been the impact of this item?

To me, the chair reaffirms how fun it can be to re-imagine something that already exists with a fresh spin; playful design that doesn’t compromise on comfort or aesthetics. It shows the versatility of the


Mix Interiors

designer and it encourages others who don’t always want to follow convention, like me, to not flounder with their identity.

The personal connection

The chair represents the height of design to me on a very personal level. At the time the design was launched, before I went to design school, I was heavily preoccupied with the works of designers I admired – the beautiful or interesting designs I’d see in design magazines. I dreamed of being one of those designers one day. When I saw the Ro chair for the first time, it wasn’t necessarily the Ro chair per se, but the body of work of Jaime Hayon which had led him up to that stage, of designing the Ro chair. I was impressed by the entire process. The chair to me represents how a designer, especially a multidisciplinary talent like Hayon, has carved his own unique identity – expressing his creativity with a dose of whimsy and without being pinned down by strict conventions that demand things should only be done in a certain way. Boring!

Glazed Oak

Oak Satin

Dark Wash

Simplicity, elevated. Spaces, illuminated. Northern Grain LVT For more information: +44 (0)800 313 4465 ukcustomerservices@interface.com interface.com/northerngrain

Sometimes, the simplest words make the strongest statement. That is also true for design. Northern Grain LVT is bright, light and effortlessly beautiful — with a simplicity that enriches any space. The 12 colourways of Northern Grain LVT are divided across three subtle yet distinct woodgrain patterns. Honouring the gentle details of beech, ash and pine, each version of Northern Grain brings harmony to interior environments. Northern Grain is carbon neutral through our Carbon Neutral Floors™ programme.

Neil Usher

Paradoxically Speaking

Workspace: how did we get here? Cologne Cathedral took 632 years to build. The largest Gothic church in Europe, it was started in 1214 and complete by 1880. There was a lull around 1560 while additional budget was sought; secured around 1840. Most workplaces don’t take quite as long, even if at times it feels like it.

Neil Usher is the VP of Places at software company Sage.

A project to create a new workspace requires a lot of people working collaboratively, constructively and collegially. Yet very few work on the entire scheme, twinkle in the eye to survey. Especially if it takes six centuries. But, of course, most workspaces take a few months. While it’s a roughly linear process, there’s often a sense that it happens despite its complexity rather than because of it. This very publication is always awash with the breathless creations of our industry; a recipe book with all the pictures and lists of ingredients, the absence of method lost amid the wonder and envy. The confidence emanating from the robust team and serenity of figures ghosting through pristine space mask the emotional journey from abstract ambition to a celebratory cappuccino.


Most of the time, the only truly end-to-end, all-inclusive role in creating a new workspace is the client. The only person on the team left sitting in the workspace when the final accounts are settled and award entries posted. It can often be a lonely place. There’s always a cacophony telling them what they should have and why, but a deathly silence when it comes to letting them know how they get there. And quite often, they’ve never led a project of this nature before. Far from intentional smoke and mirrors, it’s more a case of our industry knowing how it works yet not feeling the need to set it out because it always happens. And, of course, it’s complicated. All of which is why, a couple of years ago, my fellow workplace strategist Kursty Groves and I set out to try. With over a half a century of doing this between us, we thought it would be easy, that we’d just have to apply ourselves. We started with an intent to answer what we considered to be the top 30 questions anyone looking to create a new workspace would need to answer, the outcome to be a

Mix Interiors

free e-book. The essentials. Jargon free, no prior knowledge necessary. Here’s your homework: give it a try. I’ll wait. Not easy, is it? As we worked through the process, we got to almost a hundred questions. Everything we wrote prompted another consideration. It never seemed to end, but we knew it had to. Some of the questions asked – like how much space will we need? – had become far trickier to answer since the pandemic. With the outcome now a book, we’ve never stopped wondering why something that seems so obviously essential has never been done before. Perhaps it’s been considered too difficult. Or we’ve just been too busy getting on with it. Since 1214. Workspace Made Easy: A clear and practical guide on how to create a fantastic work environment by Kursty Groves and Neil Usher will be published by Routledge in July 2024.




T. +44 (0)1405 746000 Head Office, Factory & Showroom. T. +44 (0)20 7490 4909 London Office & Showroom.

Elite Office Furniture LTD

www.elite-furniture.co.uk E. sales@elite-furniture.co.uk E. londonshowroom@elite-furniture.co.uk

@EliteOfficeFurn eliteofficefurniture


Martin Brudnizki

It's all about beauty Martin Brudnizki discusses creating a fantasy, designing for emotion and why maximalism means having something to say.

Words: Harry McKinley Photography: Oli Kearon James McDonald Jerome Galland Vincent Leroux Pete Navey


As usual, and slightly contrary to fashion, I’m early. It does, however, proffer the opportunity to sink into a yawning sofa and appraise the lobby of MBDS, Martin Brudnizki’s eponymous studio. It isn’t much like a lobby at all, at least for a place of work – the walls lined in striped fabric, bands of green, blue and grey; smartly patterned cushions atop plush velvet furniture; and cosseting, ambient lighting. I almost expect to be handed a cocktail menu. Instead, I’m hospitably offered a coffee.

“It’s about a level of detail you can expect from us,” says Brudnizki on the space, fresh from a meeting in the adjacent, rampantly green boardroom. “That is, after all, what people are paying for.” The studio is deceptively large, with a materials library, a floral wallpapered ‘canteen’ that’s more elegant than many restaurants and a high-ceilinged workroom, where most of the 80-strong London team chatter and click behind computer screens. Another 30 hold fort at the New York office.

Mix Interiors



Image on previous page: Brudnizki by Oli Kearon Below left: Broadwick Soho’s Dear Jackie, Oli Kearon Below right: La Fantasie Golden Poppy interiors, Jerome Garland

Martin Brudnizki

There’s a Cecil Beaton quote Brudnizki swears by, reading it to me from his phone as we recline onto a sofa in his office: “Be daring, be difficult, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” It’s a magnificent, eloquent summation of his work and, perhaps, his attitude to life. Though he’s from Sweden – a country known for its pared-back sensibilities – he’s arguably cut from a different cloth, a bon vivant whose ornately decorated country pile is the darling of Instagram.

“Beauty can be seen as frivolous or that to be interested in beauty means you’re not serious. Beauty became an ugly word,” he explains, running through a list of classic design and art movements, where form took precedence over function. “But, for me, it’s all about beauty. Design is about creating the fantasy; it’s an emotional state.” Brudnizki’s spaces are, then, far from ordinary; provocative and impossible not to have an opinion on. He riles against the ‘fine’ and the ‘nice’, both words accompanied with a disdainful eyeroll. Across his professional career he’s developed projects that are as much talking points as environments – from seafood joint Scott’s and members’ club Annabel’s to Soho Beach House Miami, three projects he spotlights as among his most formative. Annabel’s in particular caused a sensation when it reopened in 2018, following a refurb and redesign said to cost in excess of £55m. It is, to this day, one of London’s most gregarious destinations, with silk walls, stuccos, gold leaf murals and a catalogue of fabrics and fringes. The pink onyx sinks in the loos live in infamy, a ban on photos doing little to stem their social media popularity.


“That project was important because it allowed me to explore a part of my brain that I’d always wanted to explore,” he enthuses. “But again, it’s about emotion more than interior design. It’s an extreme. Someone walks into Annabel’s and feels that they’ll have the time of their life.” With its candelabra, tropical carpets and ‘pagoda’ cloakroom, it has become the posterchild for maximalism. It’s easy for some to fall into the trap of similarly labelling Brudnizki and the studio – something he finds lazy, a little boring and, I suspect, reductive. Though it suggests an exuberance that his work unarguably captures, it also belies the care and consideration applied to his idiosyncratic layering of details, which isn’t wilfully chaotic but exactingly precise. “It’s actually just about one point of view, which is why I don’t like that word,” he says, describing how an abundance of objects in a person’s home, for example, suggests a life well lived and stories collected. It isn’t about noise, but about narrative. Borrowing from Phyllis Morris, “minimalism then for those with little to say”.

Above: Annabel’s dining room, James McDonald Below left: Annabel’s basement and nightclub, James McDonald

Mix Interiors



Martin Brudnizki

“It’s about emotion more than interior design.”

Regardless, at this point few would come to MBDS in search of austerity. There are plenty of studios dealing in white boxes and, if MBDS has a schtick, it certainly isn’t denting the balance sheet; 2023 one of the busiest years since its founding. Among the recent openings, Broadwick Soho, a 57-room hotel in the capital’s still bohemian heart – even if the neighbourhood has been given something of a spit and polish

Broadwick Soho, Oli Kearon


in recent years. Two costumed elephants stand sentry at the entrance, a prelude to the spectacle inside, where mirrored surfaces, animal prints and pink valances are among the subtler details.

American grandmother’s Soho townhouse meets Studio 54,” he continues, describing a brief developed with the typical nudge and wink of a studio that, for all its flamboyance, shuns the earnest.

It’s Brudnizki’s first UK hotel and already a draw for the glitterati, limos sometimes clogging Soho’s narrow streets. “Which I love,” he chuckles, drawing out the vowels theatrically. The interiors are intended to evoke “your

Also in 2023, the opening of two Paris hotels: La Fantaisie in the ninth and Le Grand Mazarin in the Marais. It wasn’t meant to happen that way. Both projects were started at different times, but fate had its own plans.

Le Grand Mazarin, V. Leroux


“Of course, if you put them next to each other, they look completely different,” he says. “One is about looking out and the other is about looking in.” La Fantaisie, in a once sagging 1970s build on the Rue de Cadet, nods to the street’s namesakes – the Cadet brothers, who were gardeners for Louis XIV. A courtyard has been resuscitated, while inside butter yellow and fern green summon the ‘dream of a garden’.

La Fantaisie, Jerome Garland

Less pastoral, Le Grand Mazarin is a heightened spin on the classic Parisian salon, a place for the well-dressed or well read. There’s lobster wallpaper, bespoke tapestries and Jacques Merle murals. Its restaurant, Boubalé, is helmed by culinary powerhouse Assaf Granit, inspired by Ashkenazi grandmothers and one of Paris’s hottest new dining spots. He swells when describing the way his spaces connect with a particular set – something that

clearly feeds his appetence for glamour. But though his work speaks to the beau monde, he readily admits he prefers a quieter life in the South Downs, with his whippet Zenon and partner Jonathan, an art advisor for the studio. The former is usually a fixture of the office, albeit currently mid-way through a daily four hour walk; a lonely dog biscuit on the coffee table disappointingly the closest I’m getting to canine interaction this chilly London day.

His home, with its regal portraits, exaggerated chandeliers and gilded chimney breasts is perhaps the greatest indicator that Brudnizki is, in fact, a traditionalist – albeit tradition that is deliciously, uncommonly overstated. It may seem that he peddles in the au courant, even the zeitgeisty, but he isn’t fixated on the new, stressing instead that he wants the spaces he creates to feel, “as though they’ve always been there, that they’re part of the fabric of a place.”

Soho House Miami, J. McDonald

Mix Interiors



Martin Brudnizki Left: Le Grand Mazarin Below: The entrance at Annabel's Right: The Nook at Broadwick Soho

An emphasis on design that sits outside of time is also the hallmark of And Objects, the furniture and accessories brand he founded with Nicholas Jeanes in 2015. Predominantly pieces designed by the duo, there are also collaborations and partnerships with other makers and creatives. They’re aesthetically playful, but investment items – something reflected in the price point. The brand has flourished online but, increasingly, Brudnizki and Jeanes realised that buyers need physicality and interaction; digital a beast that needs constantly sated with new content and collections, a cycle anathema to what And Objects stands for. Last year they opened their first store, on Pimlico Road.


“To begin with, launching a furniture brand was a natural segue from what we were doing at the studio and something I’d always wanted to do anyway,” Brudnizki details. “They’re pieces to be handed down, not discarded, going back to how furniture was treated in the past. And each design is different, created in a very human way – not rigid or constipated. But online things peter out and so it’s important people get to see the pieces and experience them. We needed somewhere to show them.” Spread over two floors at Newson’s Yard, the shop is rendered mostly in a powdery yellow, with almond white seagrass wallpaper, fabric piping details and mirrored alcoves. It’s intended


to feel more residential than retail, consideration heaped on elements such as the fragrance and music, that transport prospective clients. In future, the space will be activated with workshops, talks and suppers. This year at least, for Brudnizki and MBDS, the pipeline is gentler, something he acknowledges with the appreciation of someone fresh from an endurancetesting stretch. Plans are already underway for the studio’s milestone 25th birthday in 2025 – including a book with Rizzoli focused on colour. Our own time together having ebbed away, we close on a note of reflection. Marking a quarter of a century (almost) of his practice, what has he learnt along the way?

Mix Interiors

“I’ve been fortunate to be able to explore, trying different styles and approaches,” he notes. “We’ve done a sort of modernism, a sort of classicism, a sort of minimalism in our own way and we’ve done maximalism, the four pillars of design. Now I can pick from all of these different places and put something new together. And I’ve grown, of course. All of the projects we’ve worked on, with clients that have been open, have led us to where we are today and I’m happy; I’m happy with what we’ve achieved.”



Doshi Levien


Sum of both parts Indian-British studio Doshi Levien on cross-cultural expression and the plurality of life and design. Words: Chloé Petersen Snell

It’s a couple of degrees below freezing in London and yet inside Doshi Levien’s Columbia Road studio, a former furniture warehouse, the sun is shining and it’s a balmy 20 degrees. Taking up two floors, I meet Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien in a bright room that resembles a relaxed gallery space more than working studio – full of well-placed, covetable furniture from the studio’s archives and drawers of mood boards, drawings and colourful swatches bathed in sunlight. Meeting as design students at London’s Royal College of Art in 1995, Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien established their eponymous studio in 2000, and although

from very different backgrounds, both share a similar appreciation for making and design due to a close relationship with craftsmanship they experienced from an early age. For Levien, life began in Scotland next door to his parent’s toy factory, where he spent much of his childhood playing and crafting with the various materials available to him. “There's never really been that kind of a boundary between sort of life and industry,” he says. “My parents starting their business together was another influence in my life, in the way that it felt so completely natural for me to start the business with Nipa.”




Doshi Levien

Image on previous page: Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien Left image: Moroso Charpoy daybeds Right image: My World Matlo

It was this love of making that took him on a path away from school, leaving at 16 to learn cabinet making in London. “I spent two years learning to make things exquisitely well in wood – but after that I felt slightly limited by the material. It was great training, but the design element was missing for me. For me, the joy is in the process of discovering an idea because that endures for years after, right through the process of bringing it into production and beyond.”


Doshi, born in Bombay and growing up in Delhi, had a “very Bauhaus” education at the National Institute of Design, which was founded on the recommendation of Charles and Ray Eames in 1961. From the start, her Euro-centric education felt disconnected from the streets outside, growing up in her family’s peach-pink Art Deco house surrounded by industry. “There was a paper cutting factory, buffaloes where you'd get your milk from, the chaiwala and the bicycle workshop,” she describes. “Right from early childhood I had a real sense of design being about ritual and movement and how you conduct your daily life, rather than an object. That sense of plurality in terms of architectural style, history, modernity, culture, it felt normal to me.” This cross-cultural perspective has guided the studio’s ongoing collaborations with the likes of Moroso, Cappellini, Kettal, Kvadrat, B&B Italia, Hay and Arper – Doshi’s natural inclination towards visual culture aligning perfectly with Jonathan Levien's exacting technical skills. “When we started our studio, the context was very much a European design centric environment,” notes Levien. “There wasn’t much scope to really put a different visual or cultural identity into our work. Nipa and I recognised that, and we saw the opportunity to bring these worlds together.”

Mix Interiors



Above: Kvadrat, Naveli Right: Arper, Roopa

Doshi Levien

“And I never thought, ‘I'm going bring my culture to something’,” adds Doshi. “I was just bringing myself and my knowledge and understanding of having lived a completely different life.” “We spent weeks and weeks ‘doing’ in our first days as a studio, writing off countless letters to different companies around the world,” continues Levien, “arguing that there was room to inject a kind of cultural element and visual culture within the context of industrially produced products.”



An opportunity to present this way of thinking came in 2005, when the British Council commissioned the studio to create an installation for the Lisbon Biennale. My World, an exhibition of objects partly inspired by ancient but still functioning markets in India, created “a liminal space between two worlds, India and Europe.” A fictitious shop, guests were invited to remove their shoes, sit on a mattress and spend time talking to the maker about what they need. The objects resulting from this transaction are made with great care and are extremely personal both to the maker and the consumer, reminiscent of Doshi’s childhood experiences. Indeed, the mattress – embroidered with the

“All of our projects start back to front from the way we learnt design, away from the mantra of ‘form follows function.”

Indian game of Charpoy – inspired the collection of daybeds the duo would design for Moroso, which remains one of Doshi’s favourite collaborations and one she feels sums up the cross-cultural essence of the studio’s work. She pulls out a set of hand-embroidered textiles, sewn in her aunt’s workshop in India that was set up so that women could work in their own neighbourhood. “We spent three weeks making the prototypes in India and each piece is crafted by a master craftswoman. There was something sacred about working with these women and for me it was a joy.” Each piece has a completion date and the names of makers embroidered on it, with the detailed handmade aspects contrasting with a wooden frame crafted in Manzano, Italy. The best of India meets the best of Europe. “I know it sounds very utopian, but we really felt that a beautiful world exists in between our cultures, and so we try to have that plurality carry through to our work. It’s not this, or that,” Doshi says, “and I hate this idea of ‘East and West’ and the kind of cliches that come with it. We’ve always asked, how can we bring a different approach?”

As well as cultural influences, a combination of geometry and freeform craft is significant in the Doshi Levien diverse portfolio, and one Levien admits he’s a little obsessed by. “It's something to do with the contradiction between the architectural, geometric underpinning of a way of thinking, which is quite sort of cerebral, next to the more intuitive, expressive, sculptural kind of approach, working with line and intuitive forms,” he says. “The coming together of these elements was a bit of a pin drop for me.” An example can be found notably in their

Mix Interiors



Top left: Moroso, Armada Top right: Kettal, Cala Opposite: Moroso, Paper Planes

Doshi Levien

Paper Planes chair for Moroso, which originated from a fabric design based around graph paper, formed as though it almost defies gravity. “All of our projects start back to front from the way we learnt design, away from the mantra of ‘form follows function,” he continues. “For us, what’s more important is the visual, sculptural intent of the piece and how its fits into a space. For example, a chair: it’s how that chair forms a space around you. It’s not just an object, it’s a spatial element.” Outside of the world of furniture, Doshi Levien’s most recent projects focus on colour direction – and the very gallery I’m sat within is used as a



colour laboratory, thanks in part to the impeccable natural lighting. The pair recall their first comprehensive project in colour was for Kettal, creating a rich palette of colour and textiles inspired by nature, designed in a way that all the different elements and materials could be brought together and work. Fast forward, and recent work for Kvadrat led the team to devise their own colour creations. The latest collection, Naveli, is inspired by what Doshi describes as ‘soft modernism’, as she thumbs through a folder of hundreds of hand-painted cards. Muted shades seem faded by the sun, others bold and vibrant. In Hindi, Naveli means ‘fresh’ and ‘clean’; a testament to the mono-material nature of the wool textile.

“[With the colour lab] the idea is to do more colour work, but not to just think of colour as a flat surface, but as a material,” Doshi says. “We’re encouraging architects and designers to use more colour in their spaces – it's a resource for us and for the companies that we work with.” A structured brief is a rare thing, the duo note. It begins with a conversation and everything is collaborative. It’s less about strictly problem solving and more about joy, Doshi enthuses, and the pair never take shortcuts. “We look at design as a way to celebrate and appreciate the material environment that we live in – design as an attitude towards how we live.”

“We've established ourselves through the relationships that we've made with the likes of Moroso and Kvadrat, who have a strong sense of creative freedom,” Levien adds. We believe in creativity and the power of creativity, first, before fitting into some sort of commercial framework. We’re lucky that we’ve found opportunities where we have really been able to be free, and if you can't find companies that encourage that freedom, then you have to make your own things.” Plans for Milan and the rest of 2024 are in full swing, with several new launches, but the duo remain tight-lipped for now.

Mix Interiors

A mix of poetry and logic, like their backgrounds, there is something so charmingly complementary about the pair, who riff off each other as you would imagine of two people who share both life and business. There are no strict rules on discussing business outside of the studio, but they emphasise that life doesn’t feel all like work. “We mostly talk about good ideas”, Levien says.


Madeleine Kessler

View from the Outside

Unmasking the possibilities for smart city design

Madeleine Kessler is an architect, curator and urbanist dedicated to designing joyful people-centred places that contribute positively to our planet. madeleinekessler.com

The successful city is a place to live and call home. It is cultural, relevant, resilient and, above all, constantly evolving. In 1997 the Smart Cities World Forum predicted that within a decade there would be 50,000 Smart Cities, which would globally transform our behaviour and lifestyles. More than a quarter of a century later we are far from reaching this vision. Instead, the Smart City has all too often become a buzzword, synonymous with marketing and political jargon, rather than any meaningful urban advancement. But we must not let this distract us from the huge potential for the Smart City to truly innovate and revolutionise the way we live. Integrating smart technologies into urban, architectural and interior design is one of the most important infrastructure projects of the 21st century. The flourishing Smart City integrates physical, digital and human interaction in the built environment to deliver a sustainable and livable city. It is a catalyst for growth. In the UK we need to focus both on upgrading our existing cities as well as incorporating smart ideas into new towns and cities from the outset. For example, incorporating sensors into the


physical fabric of the city as it is built or repaired can enable local authorities to use real time data to identify bottlenecks in the infrastructure, so that they can direct their resources efficiently. But striking the balance between technology and the city is difficult to get right, as demonstrated by the hugely expensive ghost-town of Songdo in South Korea – a Smart City whose systems relied on a critical mass of people it never achieved. We must ensure that we consider technology in tandem with urban design, placemaking and the environment. To enhance the performance, function and dynamism of our urban development we must incorporate smart technology and smart thinking into our urban planning, design principles and building codes. A design-led approach to smart cities encourages digital interfaces to become intuitive extensions of the urban landscape, so that technology enhances rather than detracts from the urban experience. It provides opportunities to future-proof our cities and design for change. Autonomous vehicles, for example, will likely lead to a decrease in demand for city centre car-parking,

Mix Interiors

allowing high-value land to be freed up for other uses. We should start thinking about the potential for these spaces now. Likewise, new car parks should be designed as demountable or easily programmable for change of use. Where smart systems are in use, studies have shown that users often limit live feedback to technical data, rather than utilising it to respond immediately to a citizen's needs. To allow such technology to improve the functioning of our cities we must ensure that we educate everyone to think ‘smartly’. Cities have always been a living laboratory for urbanism, infrastructure and building. For centuries the most successful cities have continued to adapt and evolve, allowing them to flourish. There is a profound opportunity for design and technology to shape a more sustainable, inclusive and joyful future of urban living. We must prioritise a human-centric design-led approach to our cities that integrates technology into our urban fabric at every scale. The Smart City is not a new concept, but making a success of it will be one of the greatest 21st century challenges, and a great accomplishment for future civilisation.

To your postbox and your inbox interiors


The best of commercial interior design View our subscription options mixinteriors.com


Holloway Li

Broadwick Live

Case Study

Club land For the London HQ of Broadwick Live, Holloway Li devised an 80s-inspired design, rooted in the culture of today. Words: Dominic Lutyens Photography: Nicholas Worley


Case Study

Broadwick Live

When talking about Broadwick Live HQ, office of nightclub operator Broadwick Live in Canary Wharf, London, Alex Holloway, of interior architecture studio Holloway Li, likens it to another of his projects – hotel Bermonds Locke in Bermondsey. “It’s low-impact and it has quite a humble aesthetic. It doesn’t try to conceal the verities of the host structure,” he says of the latter. Holloway, who co-founded Holloway Li in 2018, is thoughtful, analytical and opinionated. While we’ve met to discuss Broadwick Live HQ specifically, he often touches on the studio’s philosophy and expresses firm views about interior design and architecture today. He occasionally points out some of its foibles, notably an obsession with clean-lined precision at the expense of creating spaces people enjoy inhabiting. “Architects and interior designers can be guilty of trying to line everything up,” he says at one point. “I call it ‘linethroughitis’. Some architects hate walls that aren’t entirely flush from end to end but these things go unnoticed as soon as you inhabit a space. There’s a lot of artificial perfection in contemporary design, a preference among some for a precious minimalist look that’s straitjacketing.” Holloway Li’s designs are often playful, pop and expressive. Witness Bermonds Locke and the studio’s T4 modular seating designed for Uma Objects, inspired by the latter’s history as a fibreglass manufacturer for the automotive industry. Boasting a bulbous, hyper-glossy pneumatic-looking base, T4 is inspired by the early Noughties sets of TV show Big


Brother and comes in hues one might associate with retro sweet Opal Fruits (now Starburst). Holloway points out that two black examples, in a colour called Liquorice, grace Broadwick Live HQ’s ground-floor reception area. Broadwick Live, however, requested that their highshine finish be toned down, resulting in a softer, eggshell paint-like alternative. Broadwick Live HQ, Holloway Li’s first workplace project, is particularly playful. Its austere, mainly monochrome aesthetic recalls 1980s nightclubs – think The Haçienda, designed in 1982 by Ben Kelly. But Holloway rightly notes that the club’s interior, for example its pillars painted with diagonal, fluoro-bright stripes mimicking hazard tape, “was very designed”. At the mention of the legendary Manchester music venue, Holloway enthuses: “I’d love to design a nightclub”. Perhaps Broadwick Live HQ is the closest the studio has come to that.

“We never over-design anything”

Image on previous page: View of the snug and lunch area Left image: View of the reception desk from the staircase Above: View from one of the ground floor board rooms into the reception area and board rooms beyond Right Detail of the bespoke T4 chairs

Mix Interiors


Case Study

Broadwick Live

The two-storey, 8,000 sq ft office, completed in October 2023, occupies a new-build. Originally a shell, the ground floor has been carved up into a reception, boardrooms and a multifunctional events space which, says Holloway, “can house a bar or host fashion shows and screenings”. Upstairs there’s a large space with huge windows containing desks, around six meeting rooms (some used for Zoom calls), a breakout space boasting Ligne Roset’s classic, low-level 1970s Togo seating and a kitchen. The office, which employs around 100 staff, has 106 desks overall. Reflecting on the office’s generally pared-back look, Holloway says: “As a studio, we’re increasingly talking about what is the minimum impact needed to make a space workable, to meet the client’s needs. We never over-design anything.” Yet the understated quality of Broadwick Live HQ is deceptive. Holloway Li selectively retained original features that foreground its industrial qualities. And, counterbalancing them, are several rather theatrical interventions. Silver foil-wrapped ceiling ducts have been left exposed yet, seen en masse, they recall a 1960s or 1970s sci-fi movie set. And the apparent, potentially sterile, uniformity of the office’s smooth, concrete walls is leavened, on closer inspection, by an uneven grey plaster finish that creates a warmer look. The client stipulated that Broadwick Live HQ should reflect the company’s light-touch approach in their clubs – the best-known one being the gargantuan Drumsheds, housed in a former Ikea store in Tottenham, London – which make a virtue of their interiors’ bare bones. Yet


the office features a new, eye-catching blackened-steel staircase – a monumental structure that ascends to the first floor to strikingly graphic effect. Holloway calls it the project’s “spine”. Inevitably, Broadwick Live was badly hit by the pandemic and the importance Broadwick Live HQ places on catering to post-COVID working practices surely

Holloway Li

Above: Overview of the staircase and hot desk alcove Right: The kitchen

reflects this. Upstairs is what Holloway calls, a little floridly, “an altar”. In fact, this 6ft-long communal, multi-purpose coal-black table, coated with a slightly rough, tactile micro-cement finish, is highly practical, used for eating at and hot-desking. “Catering to hot-desking is an important post-COVID provision,” says Holloway.

Holloway Li collaborated with specialist craftspeople, from furniture-makers to metalworkers, to add bespoke elements to the space and ensure that the office’s pared-back interior was also characterful. While Broadwick Live favours a matt, monochrome, 1980s-inflected aesthetic, Holloway Li introduced many original touches that inevitably differentiate the office from an archetypal superclub interior.


Magis Uma Objects Marble Collective &Tradition Andreu World Ligne Roset Floor Story


CementAble Microcement Solutions

Metalwork Steel & Form


Craftwork Productions




Ultramar Studio Audo Bright Future LED

Glazed partitions

City Concepts



Mama Shelter

Case Study

A tale of terroir The playful Mama Shelter brand brings its interpretation of Burgundian spirit to a new hotel in Dijon. Words: Lauren Jade Hill Photography: Francis Amiand

Mix Interiors


Case Study

Mama Shelter

Image on previous page: Restaurant and bar

In 2023, Mama Shelter marked its 15th year with the announcement of several forthcoming projects and, coinciding with its September anniversary, the opening of Mama Shelter Dijon.

Below left: View into the restaurant kitchen

Since the brand was founded in 2008 with the launch of its first hotel in Paris, Mama Shelter has expanded across France and more of Europe, with its first site outside the region open in Los Angeles and more global expansion on the horizon. From its infancy, the brand has drawn


attention for its playful design, with Philippe Starck behind the interiors of its earliest properties.

the heart of the Burgundian capital. This site provides some of the inspiration for a hotel in which Dijon is the protagonist.

In each hotel, the distinctive Mama Shelter identity is fused with a tangible connection to the area. Within these properties, the design narrative is as much informed by a city’s heritage and culture as it is by the brand’s creative approach. This remains true at this new addition to the design-led hotel collection in Dijon, which occupies a 1960s listed brutalist building at

To understand this hotel’s design story, you first need to look at the setting. Dijon lies amid the rolling hills of vines, home to acclaimed wineproducing regions including the Côte de Beaune, of Burgundy. This wine production is a key part of the city’s identity, which is also informed by its rich history, as the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy, and its extraordinary wealth of art.

Benjamin El Doghaili


Case Study

Mama Shelter

Within this heritage-rich hub of bucolic Burgundy, the new 120-room hotel, also home to a vibrant restaurant and bar, event ‘ateliers’ and a vintage-style cinema, sits proudly opposite the gothic Saint-Bénigne Cathedral on Rue du Maret, just a stone’s throw from the main Rue de la Liberté shopping street. The designer responsible for the site’s transformation, Benjamin El Doghaïli, started by utilising features of the existing concrete and glass building the hotel now occupies.

“The first thing I noticed about this building was the very low ceiling made of concrete slabs in the lobby,” he explains. “When we came to the building, this part of it was hidden. But when I found this very brutalist detail, I knew it would be a pity to cover it again because it’s such a unique part of the original site. I decided to treat it, smoothing it down, and asked Beniloys (the artist Mama Shelter works with for all of its properties) to create a patterned mural for its surface.”


Uncharacteristically of Mama Shelter hotels, which usually have low ceilinged social spaces for a cosy feel, the main restaurant and bar takes up a capacious, light-filled area of the hotel building. “To avoid anything getting lost in this very high-ceilinged space, I first painted it black, so you forget the size of the room, then I added low hanging lighting so that they are in your line of vision.”

Benjamin El Doghaili

Below left: Window onlooking the Saint-Bénigne Cathedral Below right: Music stage and event space

Case Study

Mama Shelter

From this initial treatment of the public areas, the designer set about instilling both the local spirit and signature markers of the Mama Shelter aesthetic into each corner.

The property’s black and white carpeting, designed by Lila Mercier, represents the surrounding vineyards through its pattern, and the artist Beniloys drew on these vines for the ceiling murals. The patterns and colours of the guest rooms’ headboards take inspiration from the roof tiles seen around Dijon, and shades of terra cotta and powder pink reference hues of the terroir. The rooms’ bathrooms, featuring Tom Dixon basins, are decorated in green or red tiling in reference to the locally grown grapes.

"My aim was to capture the Burgundian landscape and invite it into the walls of Mama,” he says of the design, which now represents elements such as the region’s vineyards and glazed roof tiles in interiors that pay tribute to this city and its surrounding terroir, with the help of local craftsmen. “I like hearing how local people are happy to see an homage to their city that’s not done in a literal way.”


Signature Mama Shelter markers throughout these interiors include the restaurant’s island bar, positioned beneath a specially

designed chandelier, and this social space’s music stage, which here has a taller backdrop in line with the especially high ceiling. Emblematic of Mama Shelter’s playfulness, cartoon masks act as lampshades on each side of the guestroom beds. From each of these spaces, it’s an often-overlooked aspect of the interiors that the designer feels particularly proud of. “I really like the mood of the corridors you walk through to get to the rooms. They’re dark with low ceilings and the only detail is in the pattern of the carpet, which is inspired by vines. Hotel corridors can often be boring — these ones are quite spectacular.”

Benjamin El Doghaili

“Local people are happy to see an homage to their city that’s not done in a literal way.”

Left: Mama Shelter’s signature island bar Right: Bathroom and shower Below: Hotel bedroom



Conran and Partners


Case Study

Urban nature Conran and Partners draw from boutique hotels in the design of Author King’s Cross, the rapidly evolving district’s first BTR project. Words: Harry McKinley Photography: Taran Wilkhu

Mix Interiors


Case Study



ing’s Cross is perhaps one of the greatest examples of successful urban redevelopment in the UK. Just a couple of decades ago this immense swathe of the capital was shabby and mostly purposeless – save for its namesake railway station. Its streets, lined with neglected industrial buildings, were notorious for prostitution and drug dealing. King’s Cross St. Pancras was, as recently as 2011, the Tube station with the most reported crimes. But how times have changed. Today, the neighbourhood hosts HQs for global behemoths such as Meta, Google and Nike; is a hub for creativity and innovation, with a Central Saint Martins campus; and features a spiffy retail district in Coal Drops Yard, also home to Tom Dixon’s studio. And still change drives on, in places scaffolding and hoarding in almost equal ratio to sparkling new glass façades. Author King’s Cross, by developer Related Argent, is the area’s first BTR scheme, occupying a wedge of York Way just a few minutes’ amble from The Guardian’s offices. With 182 units, it aims to be all that the new King’s Cross stands for – industrious, vibrant and, in contrast to still recent history, highly polished.


This means an emphasis on aesthetics, amenities and culture, Conran and Partners drafted to design the expansive communal areas. “The typical residents of Author are contemporary, forward-thinking and diverse,” says the studio’s principal, Simon Kincaid. “They value a social hub and, throughout our design process, we considered their lifestyle and aspirations to ensure that these could be translated into the final framework.”

Conran and Partners

Previous page: Courtyard Lounge Above: Lobby staircase

Case Study

Below left: Lounge room Below right: Onsite gym


The scheme draws heavily from the world of the boutique hotel then, a sector in which Conran has ample experience. It’s purposefully anti-corporate, with approachable service and design working in tandem. The rolled steel reception desk by Isomi, for example, encourages the concierge team to stand and make eye contact; timber joinery behind lending warmth to the double-height lobby space. Here also, a jubilant, multi-coloured work by textile artist Kenny Nguyen and a band of abundant planting, intended to blur the boundaries between outside and in.

lobby – the connectivity of premium finishes with spirited undertones, in turn, continuing throughout the building.” Beyond the foyer, a ‘spine of amenity’ unfolds, linking the dual high-rise residential cores. Mailboxes are deliberately prominent, envisaged as a focal point of interaction between residents and an opportunity for serendipity. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook outdoor civic areas, with a garden by landscape architects, Fabrik.

“The prominence and orientation of our entrance provides the first indication of how Author King’s Cross is connected to the wider estate,” notes Michael Herrington, director of build-to-rent operations at Related Argent, “and I think that feeling of drama continues into our


Conran and Partners

If you're only reading us in print, you're only getting half the story.

Find us online mixinteriors.com Follow us @ mix.interiors

Case Study


Below image: Lobby area Centre image: The Garden Kitchen Right image: Courtyard lounge

“Open spaces are strategically positioned along this spine to serve as social hubs,” Kincaid continues, “whereas more secluded spots like the Nook were conceived with privacy in mind.” At the coworking Nook, eight solo stations, zoned with laminated bamboo and featuring booth seating, flank a neat central common table. The neighbouring courtyard lounge is, by contrast, an open and inviting expanse of soft furnishings in fetching teal and terracotta. Conran and Partners leaned on warm, natural materials and finishes, including a chevron dark wood floor, a bespoke terrazzo-style timber tabletop and a marble coffee table. In a nod to domesticity, the lounge is scattered with floor lamps, each different. Bauwerk textured paint extends the air of tactility, while proving another stylistic connector between outside and in. A wine machine suggests a place of play and informality. “We purposefully amplified the amount and saturation of colour in the spaces where the resident will spend focused time and activity,” says Kincaid, “such as the private lounge and the screening room.” It’s across both of these environments that the design turns


Conran and Partners

more richly ambient and nest-like. In the former, a pool table and bar; in the latter, deep sofas clustering around a cinema screen. Both feature a deep colour palette and signature, more immediately residential notes, such as a Shiva pendant light by Morghen Studio and boldly motifed carpeting. Arches are a common trope, referencing the industrial legacy of the area and the architecture of the railway station. “It’s an element woven into various spaces, that serves as a unifying thread,” describes Kincaid. “The arches tie together the aesthetic narrative, from the decorative panels behind the reception desk to the mirrored backsplash in the lounge’s kitchen.” Separately, a Garden Kitchen provides an environment for social suppers and private dining – connecting to the courtyard. It’s a faintly bucolic space,

with Mutina’s Barber & Osgerby-designed Mews tiles, suggestive of Victorian quarry tiles; on the ceiling, a contemporary architectural intervention reminiscent of ceiling beams. An ultra-curated gaggle of objects line the sharp, obsidian shelving, with a robust Belfast sink further speaking to a rural inspiration. “When we look at the amazing history and storied background of the King’s Cross Estate, it becomes clear how the design of Author King’s Cross complements both the tapestry of the estate and our approach to resident service,” says Herrington. “[It] also has to be conducive to the needs of the resident, with spaces to relax, work and maintain their fitness, and be complementary to how our onsite teams provide service. This isn’t an easy task and Conran were able to absolutely nail it for what we need our amenity spaces to be.”


Case Study

Newmains & St Brigid's

The good



Newmains and St Brigid’s Community Hub by BDP is designed for the community, by the community. Words: Chloe Petersen Snell Photography: David Barbour


Left image: Newmains & St Brigid’s Primary School Right image: Main community hub and assembly hall


In an unassuming former mining village about 18 miles south-east of Glasgow you will find Newmains & St Brigid’s Primary School and Community Hub. It brings together two primary schools and a nursery into one modern, purpose-built building created for the wider community, set in the middle of a housing estate and a short stroll from a high street. From 9am until 3pm it serves primarily as a vibrant school environment, with the two schools jutting out from a central communal hub where the children can socialise with each other during break periods. Outside of school hours a series of multifunctional spaces and large grounds are used by


the local community, from social work to dance classes and even birthday parties. It was sociologist Ray Oldenburg who coined the term ‘Third Spaces,’ a space outside of home and work that offers individuals a neutral, public space for connecting and creating bonds – and Newmains & St Brigid’s ticks all the boxes. This was the first community hub project for North Lanarkshire Council in their town and community hub programme, with schools representing the biggest investment in infrastructure across the district. Work began on the project in 2020, three months before the country

went into lockdown, and so most of the consultation and design work was done online, including extensive consultation within the local community and the children who would use the space for the bulk of the time. “This is a project designed for the community, by the community,” explains Lindsey Mitchell, architect director at BDP. “We think it's important to involve the children because it means when it opens, they can take ownership. If people can take ownership of spaces that we create, the more likely they are to be loved. Although trying to consult with five- and six-yearolds over Teams was one of the most

challenging things I’ve had to do,” she laughs. What did they ask for? “It was all about fun, and why not?” The building is purposefully single storey to better blend with its residential surroundings. BDP purposefully avoided the recent trends of darker exterior aesthetics in schools, instead paying homage to the industrial heritage of Newmains and its former brickworks – North Lanarkshire one of the main centres of the brick industry in Scotland, and in the 1900s the Newmains brickworks was producing three and a half million bricks per year. The design team researched

Mix Interiors


Case Study

Newmains & St Brigid's

“We wanted to create something that felt a connection with nature but not too childlike.”

the colour and type of brick that was produced, settling on warm-toned buff bricks for a welcoming first-impression. The main reception is neutral and adultfocused, and the four learning spaces have their own entrances to further solidify the building’s wider purpose as a community hub. “Some of our adults didn’t have a great experience at school,” explains Chris Barret, Estate Development Officer for the North Lanarkshire Council Hub Delivery Team. “We didn't want the first impression to be imposing, thinking they’d be sat in classroom on tiny chairs. We wanted everyone to feel welcome.” Meeting rooms surround the entrance, utilised by the community and forming an additional base for Barret’s team. A multi-functional area, the main hub features large wooden steps looking down to a flexible stage, which opens to a large hall for assemblies, sports and other events. “The shared central space is a place of delight,” describes Mitchell as we enter the heart of the building. At the top of the steps is a e-learning library with flexible furniture, and a show-stopping timber tree structure fills the full height of the room, meeting a timber ceiling. “We wanted to create something that felt a connection with nature but not too childlike,” says Mitchell. In the name of fun, a helical slide promotes active play and helps with motor skills – as well as expending natural energy, Mitchell adds. The use of colours found in nature as well as natural materials and plenty of daylight heavily contribute to the relaxing and warm space. Small reading nooks dotted around the building offer a splash



Left image: Floor-to-ceiling slide Right image: E-learning library


North Lanarkshire Council

Contractor BAM


Quiligotti Terrazzo Tiles Ltd Altro Xpress Lay Andrews Tiling Ege

Furniture Deanestor


WISA-Birch Premium Saint-Gobain

Lighting of brighter colour and provide space for peer-to-peer learning, including reflective sensory zones for children with learning differences or additional requirements. A theme of ‘nature and nurture’ is used throughout, extending to the generous outdoor space complete with a large sports pitch, sensory gardens, willow ‘sitooteries’, a fire pit, treehouse and, of course, a den building zone. The client’s sustainability requirements for the projects were specific and a number of systems were put in place to meet strict energy targets. Photovoltaic panels harness solar energy, and a Sustainable Urban Drainage system (SUDS) is included in the soft landscape solutions. These take the form of swales and rain gardens;, sunken areas that can take the volume of intense rainfall and allow the water

to gradually soak into the groundwater, cleansing the water as it filters through. Eventually, outdoor play spaces incorporate rainwater channels, inspired by the winding paths of the nearby South Calder Water river, enhancing education around climate awareness. The arrival of the hub has already made a big impact in Newmains, and Barret and Mitchell hope it will continue to unite and provide opportunity for the community for years to come.

XAL Luxonix Apollo Dextra Thorn Blacklight


Flemings Glulam Steel Line slides Hugh Stirling joinery Annandale Design

“The view of the council in terms of how they wanted these hubs to develop is very progressive,” says Mitchell,” and other local authorities are following suit now. It’s a testament to their dedication and conviction, fully realising what they set out to do.”

Mix Interiors


Case Study



SODA Studio

Wharf appeal Words: Clare Dowdy Photography: Gareth Gardner

SODA Studio reimagines a workplace in London’s corporate heartland for an anti-corporate generation.

Mix Interiors


Case Study


Previous page: Sofa seating in coworking space

South Quay Building was a fairly standard office block on the Isle of Dogs. Inside “it was petty uninspiring and looked tired,” says SODA Studio associate, Eleni Karabouikis. “It was old-school corporate grey with carpet tiles, suspended ceilings and basic finishes.”

Opposite image: Double island for café and reception desk Bottom left: SODA’s colourful upholstery and natural finishes Bottom right: An assembly of multi-purpose spaces

Despite its humdrum appearance, the 13-storey, 210,000 sq ft waterside tower has had a torrid time. Built in 1989 as South Quay 3, it was one of the Docklands buildings that was damaged when the IRA detonated a 3,000-pound bomb on 9 February 1996. It was re-skinned with mirrored glazing after the bomb and given the new name Wyndham House, and later had another name change to South Quay Building (SQB). Now, as big businesses including HSBC and Clifford Chance leave or plan to leave Canary Wharf, General Projects (GP) took on SQB and the challenge of boosting occupancy, which was at 40%.


The real estate developer brought SODA to in to disrupt the typical Canary Wharf offer, to create something more youthful and rebellious than its corporate neighbours. SODA director Russell Potter, elaborates: “We were tasked with creating a series of flexible workspaces that wouldn’t be boring – environments that are playful and encourage a communal spirit, which is now more important than ever.” GP set Karabouikis and her team to work on the ground, second, sixth and seventh floors, tasking them with coming up with a variety of settings. But in their first job for GP, SODA decided to start their changes outside the windswept entrance on the plaza. “A person’s journey begins when they see the building,” Karabouikis believes. On the approach, “its grey steps and balustrades didn’t make it feel inviting.” So SODA “injected some life into it,” by getting Adams Joinery to build some planters and cover part of the steps with timbered bleacher seating. It’s worked, as

on the entrance’s portico at street level and inspires the graphics and wayfinding used on GP’s floors for icons, tea points, lift lobbies and loos. SODA combined this with pops of colour on upholstery, curtains and worktops, and with what Karabouikis describes as humble materials like plywood and tiles. The graphic treatment lent itself to a renaming of the building. It’s now known as Sierra Quebec Bravo (SQB), a madeup moniker derived from the boating alphabet, which sticks to the tower’s existing initials. The ground floor has been transformed into a social hub. There, SODA brought in a central double island with a café and reception desk and introduced banquette seating. “It’s created quite a buzz,” Karabouikis says, and is quite a change from its former incarnation, where a single receptionist sat at a vast desk in a cavernous lobby area. GP wanted to offer prospective tenants choice, so the sixth floor is divided into nine big offices; the seventh has a meet-andgreet reception, meeting rooms adjacent to the core, and smaller studios; and the second floor is laid out with medium-sized offices and break-out spaces.

tenants now sit out there and have their lunch, according to Karabouikis. To fulfil the brief of giving SQB a ‘youthful and rebellious’ image, the architects came up with a concept inspired by Dazzle camouflage patterns that would have been used by ships once sailing past the nearby docks. This two-tone, geometric, hiddenin-plain-sight pattern was worked up by SODA’s inhouse graphics arm. It appears

Mix Interiors

On these three floors, SODA got rid of the existing partition walls. “The challenge was the really deep floor plate,” Karabouikis explains, “how do we get light in and create circulation?” Her solution was to locate the communal break-out spaces around the core, put some offices around the edge of the building to benefit from the views and natural light, and then to maximise all that glazing by introducing glazed internal partition walls, so that the


Case Study

Opposite image: Cycle ramp and store Centre image: Communal areas are divided into smaller, semi-private spaces Right image: Communal areas are divided into smaller, semi-private spaces


“Environments that are playful and encourage a communal spirit are now more important than ever.”

smaller offices away from the windows could borrow light. People in these rooms often work with their doors open. “It feels like a nicer, progressive communal work environment,” she says, while the main breakout spaces have generated a “neighbourhood atmosphere”. Meanwhile the communal areas are divided into smaller, semi-private spaces with pale pink transparent voiles suspended from the exposed ceilings. “What people want and love is small nooks,” Karabouikis says, “These spaces are semi-private and use borrowed light but are still warm and cosy.” SODA worked with furniture consultant The Furniture Practice, populating SQB with brands including Herman Miller, Hay, Modus and Unto This Last. GP then asked interior stylist Emma Lynne Archer to help dress the space, informed by SODA’s material palette and concept. Along with rugs and big indoor plants, Lynne Archer sourced colourful wall hangings with big, geometric patterns. “They warmed up each of the spaces,” says Karabouikis.


SODA Studio


Maris Interiors


Adams Joinery

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

Foreman Roberts


Forbo, Tarkett, Eurocol Liquid Design, Grestec, SAS international, Kvadrat, Delius, Abet Laminati, Hamilton Hartland


Lightforms, Astro, Ilumam, Rich Brilliant Willing, Zero, & Traditional, Mutto, Ferm Living, Sebastian Herkner, Northern Lighting


Duravit, Lusso Luxe, Delabie, Gerberit, Menu, The Splashlab, Syon, Initial


Narbutas, Herman Mille, Workstories, Hay, Diemme, Magis, Hem, GUBI, Muuto, Billiani, Hayche, Fest Amsterdam, Orangebox, De Padova, Petite Friture, Modus, Unto this last

SODA’s new bigger gym, brand new cycle ramp and store, and extra showers add to SQB’s attractions. Before, this area was an unused car park. “GP are aware of what add-ons tenants are looking for,” she says, citing “spaces that will enhance wellbeing.” The execution here is a lot more polished than a recent nearby SODA project. At the Royal Docks slightly further east, the firm brought some abandoned offices and storage areas owned by Tate & Lyle up to standard with a light touch. Called The Factory, the cluster was repurposed by developer Projekt for use by local businesses, new start-ups, events and filming. SQB may be a more modest venture than GP’s reinvention of the Heal’s building on Tottenham Court Road into Manufactory by BGY, or the transformation of Richard Seifert’s 1950s 242 Marylebone for Woolworths into Metropolis with AHMM. But its remit to attract tenants to this beleaguered area is perhaps more ambitious. So far, so good. The building’s occupancy rate is up to 70%, with most of that on SODA’s floors.

Mix Interiors


Positive Impact

What's another year? It was back in the halcyon days of March 2022 that I wrote down some words about what the industry may look like in 2023 – when it came to the delivery of authentic and meaningfully sustainable interiors. It’s now 2024.

Adam Strudwick is Principal at Perkins&Will. perkinswill.com

Considering a follow up, I spent ‘ages’ thinking about a persuasive narrative (that’s what we get paid for, after all) that would serve as a thoughtful companion to that piece. Eventually, I realised I didn’t have any good ideas so I thought fuck it, why not just write down what we all need to do now.

Make buildings busier

A under occupied building is the most unsustainable building. Even the most sustainable building in the world is a very bad thing if it’s not used really hard. We accept too readily that the spaces and places we design aren’t always well utilised – this needs to stop and we need to become ashamed of projects that aren’t constantly activated.

Use less

We need to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ we specify. We need to revel more in less but better and celebrate how we can subtract rather than add.


Positive Impact

Cat A

Just don’t put Cat A in any medium or large spaces unless it has an intrinsic design solution for easy re-use. Just don’t.

Measure carbon

Find a way of ensuring your teams understand how operational and embodied carbon is quantified and can be balanced in your design. Make sure you think about carbon in the same you think about pounds: spend it very wisely. Get to know the new UK Net Zero Carbon Building Standard, it will be your greatest friend and your best enemy.

Be contrary

Tell large companies that you won’t specify their projects unless they can provide you with a high quality EPD. Tell small companies that you don’t care about EPDs, but that you want them to demonstrate the genuinely sustainable and robust qualities of their products –

People who can help with a predemolition audit reusefully.co.uk SusConSol.co.uk Link to new Net Zero Building Standard nzcbuildings.co.uk Companies to speak to about material passporting madaster.com upcyclea.com

and maybe for them to invest in EPDs when they are able.

Leverage your visits

Tell furniture manufacturers you won’t go to their lovely showrooms unless they start providing second life products. Why not try and make sure at least 30% of the FFE you use is reused/reimagined? Hell, go further and try and make sure a percentage of all the products and materials you use are second life.

Don’t strip

Don’t do a project with a strip-out element without commissioning a predemolition audit. Why not change your title block from Demolition Drawing to De-Construction Drawing? Even that will make people think differently.

Think about the end at the beginning

Don’t finish designing your projects without thinking about what will happen

Cool books to read The Handbook to Building a Circular Economy by David Cheshire

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth

The Re-use Atlas: A Designer's Guide Towards a Circular Economy by Duncan Baker-Brown

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard

to them when they have reached the end of their use. Design in principles that mean it will be possible for your creations to have multiple uses easily and beautifully.

Un-Instagrammable moments

Look past how a space, a product, a material looks. Strive to investigate and celebrate its real value, rather than its aesthetic. Push for a new beauty.

Whilst eating small Danish pastries

Every time you meet a supplier ask them what they are doing to consider the circular economy as a core principle of their business model. Call out any bullshit, in a polite way.

Look in skips

Educate, educate, educate

There is so much knowledge in our industry and our firms that isn’t evenly distributed. Focus on ensuring that everyone you work with knows as much as possible and has access to all the tools and resources that will help them do the most positive job possible. “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” – William Gibson.

Be scared and hopeful

Scary things are happening and it’s likely to get worse. However, never has such effort been put into making real change and never have emerging designers been so inspired to make a fundamental difference. Good luck, we can do it.

This is a fun one. When you are on site, question the contractor as to what’s being thrown out and ask where it’s going. Waste is a material without an identity.

Mix Interiors


Fast Forward

Designing with bacteria We explore how these microscopic organisms could be the key to a healthier, more sustainable and more beautiful future. Words: Rima Sabina Aouf


Mix Interiors


Fast Forward

Designing with bacteria

For decades, we spoke mainly of how to eradicate them. Now, we realise that not only are several strains of bacteria beneficial to our health, they’re powerful allies in the field of design. Fabrics dyed with bacteria, leather alternatives grown by bacteria, and ceramics and masonry hardened with bacteria have all emerged from design schools and labs in the last decade and are now starting to enter the supply chain.

dyes that have poisoned the water in countries like India and Nepal. The company uses DNA sequencing and synthetic biology to engineer bacteria to produce colours from nature, and then grows them in huge bioreactors — this time, it looks similar to brewing beer and takes one or two days. And there’s biomineralisation innovator BioMason, which makes building materials by using bacteria to bind aggregates like granite, without heat, in a similar way to how coral or seashells grow. Its factory was described by Forbes as looking like “a concrete block plant mixed with hydroponics”.

The processes used by the makers in this space range from the lo-fi and craft-like to the industrial and scalable — but they’re not altogether unfamiliar. There’s designer Lionne van Deursen, who makes her bacterial cellulose textiles in containers, feeding the microbes sweetened green tea and mindfully watching them grow over weeks in a procedure not unlike making home kombucha. The bacteria produces a type of cellulose as it grows which, when it’s dried, has a similar feel to leather. The products she’s made include a lamp, inspired by the mottled way the translucent material diffuses light. Then there’s companies like Colorifix, whose mission is to make bacterial dyeing as available and cost-effective as the toxic petroleum-based


As with other types of biodesign, such as working with mycelium or algae, the promise of all this bacterial experimentation is that it will ease our impact on the environment and possibly give us a new affinity with nature. Fabrics made from bacterial cellulose biodegrade and don’t need large amounts of land or water to grow. The dyeing process doesn’t send harmful chemicals into the environment or use as much water. And biomineralised masonry doesn’t produce the heavy carbon dioxide emissions of making concrete or firing bricks. After a decade of research and investment,

Fast Forward

Previous page: Bacterial cellulose, Studio Lionne van Deursen Upper image: Bacterial dyeing at the Colorfix lab Centre image: Colorfix pigments Bottom image: 3D-printed bacterial textiles, bioMATTERS

these materials are appearing in consumer goods, while the ‘biodesign lifestyle brand’ Normal Phenomena of Life launched last year to speed up their arrival in our wardrobes and living spaces. Nancy Diniz heads the Masters of Biodesign course at London school Central Saint Martins, and as a practitioner has worked with virtually every organism in the field. She says that part of the appeal of bacteria is a practical one — the microbes are ubiquitous, fast-growing and don’t necessarily require sterile lab conditions, meaning designers can easily start experimenting. But as she’s spent time observing bacteria,

she’s also been charmed on a more artistic level by their unique ways of creating. “I love the behaviour of bacterial growth,” she says. “I've been really inspired by quorum sensing, which is this amazing collective intelligent behaviour that bacteria have when they start foraging for food and when the food becomes scarce. They make these amazing patterns and colours.” Diniz has previously tried to incorporate some of these patterns into the forms in her work, as have designers including Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar, whose Living Colour project saw them use a ‘live dyeing’ process where the bacteria is cultivated on the fabric itself, leaving visible growth patterns. So while part of the appeal of biodesign is that we can swap like for like with traditional materials, getting a close match in appearance, there is also an aesthetic shift happening as designers change their perspective on what constitutes the natural and organic. This is visible in interiors too, as ideas around biophilic design get pushed in new directions, making yesterday’s potted plants and smooth timber seem manicured and mechanical.

Even more significant is the change coming to the composition of our interiors. “That’s another exciting field for interiors: the microbiome,” says Diniz. Just like the more well-known gut microbiome, our air, water and materials host communities of microorganisms, and amplifying them could benefit our health or allow us to live more sustainably. “Before, people were very sceptical and afraid of bacteria in their materials, but the fact that we have the human microbiome and there’s so many products in skincare, in healthcare, with bacteria helping humans, makes the idea of living with bacteria a very exciting one,” she says. She is seeing more designers experiment with ‘bioreceptive’ materials — ones that encourage various organisms to grow — and ‘bioremediation’, where the organisms are used to purify the air, detoxify used cooking oil, or otherwise remove a pollutant from our environment. This could become especially important in health and hospitality settings. The bacterial revolution, therefore, will be one of both style and substance. “I think that in ten years’ time we will see major change,” says Diniz. “Designers will no longer want to design in the old way.”


Shawn Adams

Designing for Difference

Is the design industry elitist? Image: Tobi Sobowale

Shawn Adams is an architect, writer and lecturer. He is also cofounder of the sociallyminded design practice POoR Collective. poorcollective.com


It’s no secret that much of the design industry is run by exclusive circles, highbrow clubs and pompous closeknit groups. Consequently, creatives from lower economic backgrounds often find it hard to navigate the sector, unless they somehow develop powerful connections. However, this isn’t an easy task. As a result, many aspiring designers face the dilemma of following their dream and being financially insecure or doing something unrelated in another field to generate a stable income. This coupled with rocketing tuition fees, expensive material costs and high software prices begs the question: is the design industry elitist? To answer this question, we first need to define what elitism is. According to Oxford dictionary (ironically enough) it is: “a way of organising a system, society, etc. so that only a few people have power or influence. These ‘few’ are often those of significant wealth and social status.” It is essentially a system that favours the privileged and excludes those from lower economic backgrounds. When applied to the design industry, this can be seen in the form of

unpaid internships, low paid jobs and astronomically high tuition fees. Pursuing a career in design is usually a costly venture, from fashion and architecture to graphic design and sculpture. Most students do not have the finances to buy elaborate materials, pay for the latest software or to not work while they study. Many of these barriers have helped to create an elitist design sector where only the privileged see themselves as designers. Elitism in the design sector becomes even more apparent after studying, as many career opportunities are linked to strong connections as opposed to genuine merit, skill or experience. We all know someone that has landed a big design job because of nepotism alone. Moreover, the fixation on specific aesthetics, styles and trends driven by affluent groups help to marginalise diverse voices that diverge from the norm. The design industry's perceived exclusivity raises questions about accessibility and the need for systemic change to ensure that emerging designers aren’t held back, due to their lack of powerful networks and socioeconomic background.

Mix Interiors

If we want a more exciting and diverse design industry, we need to start dismantling elitist barriers. To do this we will need the help of those who have benefitted from affluent circles. We need them to help create opportunities for those from lower economic backgrounds that are genuinely talented. By providing scholarships, mentoring opportunities and abolishing unpaid internships more people would be able to pursue a career in design. They also need to provide aspiring creatives with access to their exclusive networks. This could be done in the form of partnerships between educational institutes and industry heavyweights. Design schools should also be offering different types of studying arrangements, such as apprenticeships, to give people from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to study. So, while I believe every creative should follow their passion, it is important that we recognise the current elitist barricades that make much of the design industry highly exclusive and inaccessible.

built to exceed. buildgen.co.uk

Impact Acoustic

Mix Roundtable

What are we getting wrong about circularity? Words and moderated by: Harry McKinley


We all know that durability, reusability and recyclability are central to the future of commercial interior design, but can these principles coexist with our appetite for the new? In this Mix Roundtable with Impact Acoustic we explore circular design models, tackling misconceptions and asking what we still have to learn about ‘closing the loop’.

Mix Roundtable

In partnership with


Impact Acoustic

Mix Roundtable

Harry McKinley Mix Interiors Managing Editor

Sven Erni Impact Acoustic Co-founder and CEO

Anna Lee HLM Architects Senior Interior Designer

Circularity and sustainability are not the same thing.

Tom Shaw Modus Workspace Head of Technical Design

For Spacelab’s Alice Wells, the blurring of the lines between what is sustainable and what is circular isn’t helpful. By lumping the two in together, it can sometimes become too easy to skew the objective. “Building a circular economy, a circular design model, isn’t just about recycling, for example. If anything, that’s the last resort. Circularity should, firstly, be about reuse and repurposing – about what stays in circulation. That’s part of how we examine the ways in which we can shift from being such a consumption-focused industry.”

For the particularly terminology-versed, this may seem a statement of blinding obviousness. Yet, for our assembled experts, sustainability and circularity are too often conflated; misconceptions rife. Though both concern environmental impact, they’re ultimately different models, representing a different set of challenges, a different set of opportunities and – “Because creating circularity is a particular responsibility,” continued Gensler’s Becky our table agreed – often different outcomes. Spenceley. “Any of us can create a beautiful “I think there's a lot of greenwashing in the world, space, right? But it’s about responsible design, which has a huge impact on our cities not just in our industry, so I think it's incredibly and our communities. Circularity, not only important to define what we mean and what is meant by these terms,” stressed HLM Architects' sustainability, is at the core of that.” Anna Lee. “Just on a theoretical level, circularity is all about closing the loop and sometimes we can fall into talking about ‘sustainability’ without recognising that important distinction. It’s a different conversation.”


Mix Roundtable

In partnership with

Becky Spenceley Gensler Design Director

Enrique Soler Willmott Dixon Head of Design

We need a new way of thinking about the new. We often talk of how designers create, but in a circular world it may be as important to consider how they adapt. As Wilmott Dixon’s Enrique Soler inferred, consideration needs to be given to what can be made new again, if starting from scratch is ever-more unviable in an increasingly resource-challenged world. “If we want to talk about genuine circularity, we have to get real: we can’t start with a blank page anymore,” he explained. “We have to change the way we think about things and recognise there are different, new accountabilities. We have to be able to look at something and say, ‘this might not be the idea I had in mind, but this is what I’m what I’m playing with’; to ask, what can I do with this and how can I respond to this?

Alice Wells Spacelab Senior Designer

Ella Smith AHMM Building Performance Analyst

Ella Smith, AHMM, agreed that reinvention should, initially at least, trump introduction. “The circular economy starts with working with what we currently have,” she suggested. “One of the greatest misconceptions that I see again and again, is the notion that circularity starts once a building has been created or a design devised. 85% of today’s buildings are still going to be in use in 2050, so we need a mindset change and to recognise that we have to work with the landscape that’s already with us.” Cat A, understandably, came in for a particular drumming – seen as wasteful, indulgent to a degree we can no longer afford and fundamentally at odds with circular design principles. Wells proffered a solution: “We often talk about the negatives of technology, but here's where it could be a tool to help us reduce waste. Couldn’t augmented reality be used to display specific sections or levels of a building, without it needing to be fitted-out with elements that will immediately be removed? That way, what’s not needed was never there, so we don’t even need to reuse.”

Mix Interiors


Impact Acoustic

Mix Roundtable

Right on paper isn’t always right in practice. The distance between what works in principle and what works in practice can perhaps be best surmised in the appropriated slogan ‘mind the gap’. At times said gap is narrow, at others, chasmic. Of course, the same can be said of what reads wells versus what works well, as seductive messaging butts up against the practical realities of design and the nature of live spaces. Lifespan is an obvious example, as designers and manufacturers tout the longevity of materials and products, while tacitly recognising that few, if any, commercial environments will exist in any static guise for decades.


It's here that Impact Acoustic CEO and co-founder, Sven Erni, believes we need more honesty and more transparency; a personal proponent of circularity whose commitment to ethical and sustainable production carries through to Impact Acoustic’s practices. “We need to start having a more honest conversation about designing to last and the reality of what that means in the design world,” he said. “Take back programmes look great on paper, but no one uses them, so we approach things differently because we’re honest about the reality of circularity, not just the ideal. That’s what’s important to designers specifying I believe, even if it would sometimes be simpler just to tick a box. So, we create products that can be very easily repurposed – without glue, without

Mix Roundtable

In partnership with

screws. But we also know, in practice, things will need to be recycled, and so we make sure we can do that in as circular a way as possible, without using a lot of energy, which is hugely important. That combination of reuse, recycling and consuming less is what gets us closer to closing the loop.” “When it comes to right on paper versus right in practice, it’s also not that there are always problems, but there are a lot of gaps,” continued Modus Workspace’s Tom Shaw. “And right now I don’t know that there are the mechanisms to ensure circularity. There’s no one-stop-shop that helps weigh up and present the credentials of materials and products, while also considering aesthetics. We don’t have a platform for that. We still have to do most of the fundamental work ourselves and a lot of that is based on trust.”

Mix Interiors

Materiality is another sticking point, either confusion about what’s there already and its lifecycle, or in the reluctance from clients to adopt materials that are terrific on paper, but also untested. “Everyone thinks that glass in façades can be reused, that it’s somewhat circular, but you can’t. Most of it gets downcycled,” explained Smith, “so there are gaps in knowledge.” “Yet, by the same token, it’s hard to introduce innovation,” said Spenceley. “There’s an amazing material made from coffee grinds, and it has all the credentials, but there’s risk attached to it because we haven’t specified it before. That can be a hard sell to a client, because the journey can be more complicated; it means explaining that while it isn’t as easy as picking a quartz countertop, if they want the circular story and the environmental contribution, they need to take a risk. But in commercial projects that isn’t always going to happen so, again, what’s right on paper comes up against the reality of what clients are willing to accept.”


Impact Acoustic

Mix Roundtable

“For us, waste is not 'waste', it's a resource”

Circularity sometimes means compromise, but not as much as we think. When it comes to circular products and materials, do our experts feel there are ripe pickings? Well, no. And they all mostly agreed that, for now at least, taking the circular route across a project means acknowledging access to less choice. Then there’s cost, in terms of budget and time. Here, circularity means higher expenditure of both. But if that all sounds rather gloomy – the trade-offs painful – there are positives too. While products may, initially, be pricier, it’s a misconception that it spells the end of the story.


Mix Roundtable

In partnership with

“For us, waste is not ‘waste’, it’s a resource,” detailed Erni. “So for our latest product, we actually pay to take it back, and pick it up. That means, as opposed to pure cost, it can actually sit as an asset on the balance sheet.” This economic model demonstrates how, through innovation and thoughtful design, circularity can make a case for itself – one that balances commerce and environmental impact.

Similarly, as in diplomacy, compromise isn’t necessarily a negative. Instead, our table agreed that parameters, a slightly curtailed level of choice and even budgetary restrictions all force designers to think more creatively; challenges breeding innovation and meaningful progress.

Mix Interiors

“Ultimately, circularity is a system,” said Shaw. “It's not down to a product, it's not down to a designer and it's not down to a client, it's about all of the elements of creating something coming together and working in a loop, forcing us to rethink what great design looks like.”




Mix Roundtable

Mix Roundtable

In partnership with

How can the next generation of designers leave a lasting impression? In this Mix Roundtable with Amtico, a new cohort of designers considers how they can make an impact on the design industry and the planet. Words and moderated by: Chloé Petersen Snell

Mix Interiors



Mix Roundtable

Bronwen Barr Amtico A&D Project Specialist

Florence Goater IA Interior Architects Intermediate Designer

Will Nock MoreySmith Interior Designer

As part of the largest youth population in history, the newest generation of designers are dealing with a world at a critical crossroads. We gathered a selection of our Mix 30 under 30 Class of 2023 at Amtico’s London studio to discuss creating in crisis and designing for longevity and legacy.


Mix Roundtable

Abrar Saad Scott Brownrigg Interior Designer

Collaboration is key when it comes to sustainability challenges. While it might be a little trite to label Gen Z the eco-conscious generation, it’s hard to overlook the planetary damage this generation will inherit – something that continues to shape their worldview and attitude towards materials and designing for longevity. Indeed, for our panel, sustainability and circular thinking is a key issue that affects their work, despite the challenges met by clients and even colleagues. Is there an undue burden on young people to be the agitating voice in the room? “Generally I think when you’re fresh out of education you still have that mindset and fluidity, and it can sometimes feel like you get bogged down with the older generations saying no, no, no,” said Peldon Rose’s Ashton Holmes. “But I do think that we have the resilience to enforce change and it's the small things that we can do in between to allow the big changes to happen.”

In partnership with

Ashton Holmes Peldon Rose Senior Project Designer

Jenny Olver Woods Bagot Interior Designer

“We also need to be conscious that each generation has big ideas”, adds Florence Goater, IA Interior Architects, “and it’s important we collaborate to keep moving in the right direction.” As a group driving the ‘Recommerce’ marketplace more than any other, Gen Z are well positioned to challenge the mindset of clients and occupiers who would traditionally prefer new products. “I have found changing perceptions such a challenge,” said Morgan Lovell’s Aston Cooper-Loffler. “It’s so rewarding to work with companies, who might be very corporate, but are now starting to use a furniture reuse scheme. [One client] works with an external company that stores furniture which we will relocate to different sites. Clients are apprehensive, but we show them existing spaces that utilise second-hand furniture and it completely changes their perception. I think people are really starting to buy into that.”

Aston Cooper-Loffler Morgan Lovell Junior Designer

“There has been a real movement towards green education in the last few years and there has been a noticeable change in attitude,” said Amtico’s Bronwen Barr. “We work with contractors and clients to show them the benefits – both sustainably and economically speaking – on choosing a more sustainable, long-lasting product. Not only when it comes to production methods, but also its end of life and recycling options. We find it important for [designers] to continue pushing back.” The designers agreed on the importance of prioritising longevity over trends, focusing on bespoke designs that evolve with the client's needs. “We’ve banned the word trends so that we design for longevity,” said Jenny Olver, Woods Bagot. “We never want our clients to look back and think, this is dated.”

Mix Interiors

Nathalia Garcia tp bennett Interior Designer

MoreySmith’s Will Nock agreed. “It's designing for evolution, not revolution, otherwise it won’t last more than ten years, which isn’t sustainable. [At MoreySmith] we have some great design ‘building blocks’ and they are designed to be added to, but nothing is taken away. Every addition is another layer of context.” For many around this table and Mix Roundtables in the past, it is the bureaucracy and roadblocks when it comes to pushing more sustainable options that makes the challenge of using truly sustainable products all the more difficult. “I find it frustrating that a huge company can get an EPD for their product for many thousands of pounds, but a smaller, more sustainable company can’t afford that, despite using way less embodied carbon,” explained Nock. “I find that because of the pace of the industry, it’s easier to simply pick a product with an EPD. It needs a rethink.”



Mix Roundtable

Design education needs a practical rethink. “My experience of university was very theoretical,” said Ashton Holmes, Senior Project Designer at Peldon Rose, who is met with agreement from the table. “There was no real ‘practical’ element to it at all. We create these lovely, aesthetic schemes, but I don't think the reality hits home until you start in the workplace, and then you are in front of clients and have to fight your corner for your design and the environment.”

Cooper-Loffler agreed. “I found that if you did start to push them on the realities of design, like accessibility, like budgets, it wasn’t quite there yet. Of course, it’s important that we're always pushing to create these big conceptual and inspiring spaces but, ultimately, we're creating spaces for people, to improve their day-to-day experience. It also sits with us of course; we have a responsibility to continue learning and growing, and advocating for those who haven’t got a seat around the table.”

“Coming from Brazil, my education in the UK gave me a chance to connect with so many different cultures and people, finding out what other people are doing and what they find interesting and important, and to try and create a ‘utopia’ from a lot of different voices,” said tp bennett’s Nathalia Garcia. “How can something ‘utopian’ be put into words or actions, something real? That’s a transition you have to make when you start working.” Nock concurred that designers need to engage more with other disciplines to produce new and exciting work. “Nothing is new. New ideas are just the convergence of old ideas. There’s this thing called the Medici effect, which looks at the intersections of different disciplines creating innovation. I do think there's a danger of too much siloed thinking and that designers should be encouraged to go and work – for example – with environmental psychologists for a month, and then take what they've learnt and bring that back.” “I feel like education doesn't end at school and it doesn’t end when you get home from work either,” added Garcia. “That’s a passion and an energy we can bring to our teams.”


Mix Roundtable

In partnership with

The design of the future is hidden in the design of the past. “This is not the time to seek the comfortable familiarity of the past, but rather to build and make something new,” Jony Ive, former chief design officer at Apple, recently implored a graduating class at California College of the Arts. Is there something to be learnt from tried-andtested methods of design and production? Despite the excitement around new technology, our guests are increasingly interested in looking at traditional “I hope we can take inspiration from Asia methods to solve problems for people and and how they're using their construction the planet, including combining ancient methods with bamboo,” Holmes expanded, building materials used in construction for lauding the ancient material that is often millennia and modern technology. overlooked as a future-forward product but is seeing a bit of a renaissance in “A great example is a company called modern construction methods across World's Advanced Saving Project Asia. “It’s a truly sustainable approach (WASP),” Nock enthused, “which has to building – we’re going back to Mother been 3D printing houses out of the Nature herself. There may come a day earth that the site was on – so the when we’re growing buildings from material themselves have no kind of genetically modified plants.” embodied carbon, it's just transporting the machine to the site. They are using “These methods fell out of vogue during the principles which have been around for 1800s because it was associated with the centuries and bringing it into the 21st ‘primitive’; it was a purely elitist ideology,” century to solve modern problems.” added Nock. “It was nothing to do how it performed or how effective it was.”

Mix Interiors



Mix Roundtable

“New ideas are just the convergence of old ideas” When it comes to technology, it’s the way we use it that matters. It’s clear the digital landscape is set to undergo a rapid transformation in the next few years, most notably in AI, which has certainly made a mark in the world of design. It’s a point of contention for many, and as a generation raised with advanced technology from a young age, the table are optimistic.

that in the past 20 years with technology advancements. Then comes the crisis or recession, which is where we are right now. The damage has been done, now what? The deployment phase is next, where this technology is pushed out to the masses. This is what we have to look forward to over the next 20 years.” When it comes to AI, combining lived human experiences with technology is key to getting the best results, said Scott Brownrigg’s Abrar Saad. “AI should be

It’s a pattern that we’ve seen for many decades, notes Woods Bagot’s Olver, referencing the work of socio-economic scholar Carlota Perez. “There’s the installation period, where the rich destruct and create the new – we’ve had


Mix Roundtable

used as a tool and not something we should be using to design for us. We’re the ones with human experiences and things that affect us. That human element is essential.” Perhaps driven by an onslaught of technology we are focusing on the ‘human’ more than ever in the rise of inclusive and sensory designs, added Goater. “We’re an ‘experience’ generation, right? People ultimately want connection, whether that’s digital or physical.”

In partnership with

Crisis breeds creativity. For many of the panel, the only corporate environment they have known is the hybridised, fluid spaces that have become normal post-COVID. For instance, how do you design a workspace when you’ve only worked remotely? “I think one of the main challenges I have faced is the unprecedented evolution of spaces so early into our careers – what we were taught at university went out the window during COVID,” said Holmes. “The ideas and concepts were always around, but the practical application was fast tracked. Clients want meeting rooms that aren’t going to be used every day, due to changed ways of working – what is there use outside of this? You don’t necessarily need a confidential space for eight hours a day, so let’s create a third space within a larger environment; sectioned off with acoustic curtains and flexible furniture so it can become this fully fluid space over a static white box. So we’re actively challenging what workplace means – maybe in ten years’ time after 5:30 it might even become a nightclub!” Olver agreed that new design strategies are challenging but rewarding: “it’s up to us to lead with confidence and purpose.”

Mix Interiors


Mix Awards 2024 27.06.24 Evolution London

Entries now open Find out more and book tickets at mixinteriors.com

Clerkenwell Design Week 2024 03

Anticipation is already growing for the 15th iteration of Clerkenwell Design Week, set to return to its famous stomping grounds from 21 to 23 May this year. Attracting a recordbreaking 37,725 visitors to the area in 2023, this year’s festival will no doubt demonstrate just why this corner of London is home to more design and architecture professionals per square mile than anywhere else on the planet. Across the EC1 neighbourhood, attendees of CDW 2024 can expect over 600 curated events, 160 local design showrooms, 300 industry exhibitors and, now, three newly announced exhibitions.


Two of these new exhibitions include Contract & Work on Clerkenwell Green (now pedestrianised for easier access) and a pop-up space at The Goldsmiths’ Centre, both of which will display the latest innovations in commercial and workplace interiors. CDW’s third new addition, dubbed ‘The Edit’, is to be held in Bourne and Hollingsworth and showcase cutting-edge, contemporary designs from some of the world’s leading brands. Visitors will find an array of specially commissioned, site-specific installations lining the streets, while

Clerkenwell Green will be taken over by brand activations from industry giants like Dyson, Universal Fibers, Bert Frank and more. A handful of Clerkenwell’s unique destinations will also host a curated selection of international studios, including Paxton Locher House, Brewhouse Yard, Cowcross Yards and – for the first time – Marx Memorial Library. Here, attendees can witness the latest and greatest in Danish and Ukrainian design, while the British Collection is doubling in size and taking over of the entire crypt of St James’s Church.


As well as creative workshops provided by the CDW Fringe programme, Conversations at Clerkenwell returns to its purpose-built theatre in Spa Fields, where expert speakers from across the industry will gather once again to lead the dialogue of modern design. The full programme will be released soon, including a session in partnership with Mix Interiors, hosted by Managing Editor Harry McKinley. To stay up to date with this year’s biggest industry events, head to mixinteriors.com.

Stockholm Design Week 2024

Welcoming design professionals and industry insiders since 2002, Stockholm Design Week is once again preparing to open its doors. From 5 to 11 February 2024, creatives from around the globe will return to celebrate Sweden’s world-renowned design scene with five days of events, exhibitions, talks, workshops and open studios – following an anticipatory popup event in September 2023. This year’s Design Week once again coincides with the much-anticipated Stockholm Furniture Fair, taking place from the 6 to 10 February. Kickstarting proceedings on the 6th of February is

the second edition of the Scandinavian Design Awards, where both established and new players in architecture and design will be celebrated for their achievements. The ceremony aims to champion the burgeoning creative talent found throughout Scandinavia, recognising an array of studios from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

in Sweden. Titled ‘Reading Room’, the installation aims to make visitors engage with ecology not just on the level of product, but on a systemic level. “We want people to connect the product to the ecosystem from which it originates and talk about the possibilities in this, but also the problems,” explains cofounder of Formafantasma, Andrea Trimarchi.

Stockholm Furniture Fair recently announced holistic, research-based studio Formafantasma as its Guest of Honour, who are reportedly planning a large-scale installation to mark their first exhibition

Another installation, titled ‘Testing Grounds’, is expected from Swedish design studio Form Us With Love (FUWL). Created in collaboration with fellow Swedish interior brands Stolab, Savo, Ateljé Lyktan and Forming Function, ‘Testing

Mix Interiors

Grounds’ takes the form of an open creative studio and aims to explore how design is shaping workspaces of the future. This year’s Design Week will also see the launch of New Ventures and Greenhouse, two platforms showcasing progressive young design brands and emerging talent in the industry. At the former, 32 international designers and 22 design schools are set to exhibit, while the latter plans to showcase the Very Simple Bar by Stamuli and the Young Swedish Design exhibition by Svensk Form. Stay up to date with more industry events at mixinteriors.com.


Alessio Nardi and Lukas Persakovas, A-nrd Studio

Material Matters

Image: Charlie McKay

A-nrd Studio is an awardwinning London-based practice specialising in transportive and immersive interior design. Founded by Alessio Nardi in 2015, together with creative partner Lukas Persakovas, the talented duo bring together a breadth of expertise in international interior and furniture design. With a list of acclaimed design projects in the UK and internationally, the studio demonstrates a refined understanding of materiality, design languages and contemporary art and crafts. a-nrd.com @a_nrdstudio

Artisanal Ceramic Tiles

Recycled Textiles

With a renewed attention on ceramic craft, there’s a raft of talented new ceramists that are experimenting with this medium and who are open to commissions. Artisanal ceramic tiles are a great way to add colour and texture to a space, and they add to the whole narrative of a concept in a very authentic way.

We are seeing more and more fabrics made with fully recycled yarn. As a studio we are very sustainably minded and one of our go-to suppliers and a pioneer in the field is the Yarn Collective, who offer the likes of linens, mohair velvets and bouclés to suit any textural need.

Recycled Terrazzo


Terrazzo adds a colour, depth and interest to any concept. Granby Rock by Granby Workshop is a striking marbled recycled terrazzo, made with crushed recycled brick, slate and other waste materials – adding a distinctive and playful addition to an interior.

The WasteBasedBrick from StoneCycling is proof that it’s possible to build highquality, aesthetic structures from waste in a surprising range of textures and colours. As a studio we try to valorise existing structures and features, reusing and repurposing where we can. We haven’t used these bricks yet but they’re on our radar and top of our list to build into a concept.





Material Innovation


bioMATTERS A sustainable interior tiling system from bioMATTERS, crafted from 3D-printing mycelium and algae.

Founded by architects Nancy Diniz and Frank Melendez in 2018, bioMATTERS is a research and design studio based in New York and London specialising in the 3D printing and robotic fabrication of biomaterials. “In our studio and lab, we cultivate and manipulate living cells from soil and aquatic environments such as mycelium, lichens, bacteria and algae strains,” Diniz and Melendez explain. “We have developed techniques and protocols that allow us to propagate these living cells, colonise them in substrates and scale them up into various customised biocomposite materials. We have also developed a palette of living-based pigments which we use to add colour to some of our designs.” The studio’s 100% biodegradable MYCOALGA tiles are formed from domestic and industrial waste materials, which are ground into a paste-like substrate to allow for the growth of mycelium, the root-like structure of a fungus. Infused

Mix Interiors

with mycelium, the paste is 3D printed to form different shapes, nurtured in a controlled climate for around two weeks. During this time the mycelium spreads, intertwining with the material and binding it together, ultimately covering the entire surface of the panel. The tiles are placed in convection ovens, where they are dehydrated to form a firm and lightweight material, off-white in colour and with a velvet-like texture. To add colour to the tiles, bio-pigments are extracted from algae biomass and transformed in gels, then 3D printed on to each tile to add further tactile and aesthetic intrigue. Thanks to a computationally generated algorithm designed to replicate organic mycelial growth, these non-repetive tiles combine to form one-off patterns – highlighting nature as the best designer of all. biomatters.org @biomatters.llc


Mix Talking Point

It's 2024 and we're all going to die Words: Harry McKinley


As a civilisation, we’ll soon dissolve into a Mad Max-style maelstrom of mayhem, fighting each other for resources on the surface of our scorched earth; climate change the ruin of us all. The punkish post-apocalyptic outfits will probably be optional, but when one’s just had to bludgeon the neighbour for a wedge of bread, natty fashion will surely provide light relief. Of course, that’s if we’re not consumed by war, one of the myriad current conflicts spilling into mushroomclouded doom. I personally don’t have a bunker, but my thick-walled basement flat may finally prove useful, if only I remember to stock up on beans. Anyway, happy new year to you too. I may sound like the ultimate fun sponge, but concerns about the fate of our world and the societies that inhabit it have reached an unparalleled fulcrum. Despite living in an age that is, statistically speaking, among the most peaceful

and prosperous in history, we’ve grown increasingly, even unprecedentedly pessimistic. Edelman’s 2023 annual trust study – or ‘trust barometer’ – revealed just 20% of Europeans believe their family’s lives will be better in five years, 62% believe their countries are more divided now than in the past and 75% are riddled with climate change anxiety. Concern about nuclear war apparently gnaws at 73% of us. The UN Human Development Report in 2022 suggested that we’re not just a wee bit disgruntled either, the 2020s are already the most depressed and stressed decade in recorded history, and never has our view of the future been so overwhelmingly, nihilistically negative. We Brits are particular curmudgeons, just 4% of us believing ‘the world is getting better’ according to a YouGov survey, published by Our World in Data. The glass, it seems, is not just half empty, it is shattered at our feet. This sobering macro view of attitudes may seem to have little to do with design. What connection paint colour to the threat of atomic annihilation; a choice of chair to the blistering of our planet through climate catastrophe? Except that we know design – a reflection of wider social mores – is fundamentally rooted in either cultural optimism or pessimism; the buoyancy of the Jazz Age 1920s compared

Mix Interiors

to the rigidity and sobriety of the Great Depression 1930s, or the effervescence of the ‘Free Love’ 60s to the industrial aesthetic of the late-Thatcherite 80s. We also know design has the power to shape attitudes, as well as respond to them; the power to imagine a better future, even as the naysayers attest that all is lost. We can, the science suggests, actually design a happier world. One compact thesis, published by Delft University of Design, unpacks this notion by exploring the role of design within society and the part it can play in either removing sources of discontent or introducing sources of joy. Its authors posit that the design of products and services – and by extension, spaces – can “lift [people] up”, “transform particular conditions to create wellbeing”, and even motivate and enable the pursuit of aspirations. Design, they emphasise, is a potent tool; engendering happiness a fundamental principle that should animate “design efforts in the contemporary world”. For this to happen though, design must be unequivocally, inescapably optimistic – a virtue in short supply. The research suggests happiness, optimism-inducing product or spatial design, then, sees materialism supplanted for meaning; the cultivation of community and a sense of contribution; and the stimulation of behavioural change, that prioritises health, wellbeing and personal agency. A far from exhaustive breakdown, but one that demonstrates design doesn’t need to fix the world to potentially change the world, or at least how see it, for the better; to take us from broken glass to half-full. It’s within the gift of designers to consider how this psychology can be deployed to bolster individuals, elevate mindsets and engender delight – to put a spring back in the step of a gloomy populace, the built environment fomenting positivity and purpose. Failing that, we can always fall on the words of the great philosopher Edina Monsoon: “Cheer up, it may never happen.”


Tina Norden

The Ask

AI: the future or the end of everything? There are few hotter topics than AI and what impact it might have on the future of our professions. Will designers soon be redundant, with spaces, whole buildings and cities designed in seconds by AI?

Tina Norden is a principal and co-owner at Conran and Partners. conranandpartners.com

It is a fascinating and multilayered issue; a source of debate in the studio. I certainly don’t believe human designers will be redundant anytime soon, but it is key that we engage with AI and develop a positive and useful way of integrating it into our design process. It reminds me of CGI first coming in whilst I was a student. Everyone was blown away by the visual effects – without paying attention to the actual design behind it. That critical analysis came with getting used to the tool and moving past the image to the actual proposal. It is easy to simply input key prompts and wait for AI to spit out a design; amazing to witness what it can do with very little, albeit with none of the details worked out. It’s obviously a great tool to generate visuals quickly, but is it dangerous to share these with a client at a point when it is not a feasible scheme? Will clients and other parties


understand that this is still the beginning of a process and not the final result? Like my tutors back in the day, blown away by the first CGIs, it will take time for all of us to get used to sketches looking like photographs and then interpret them in the right way. Testing out various software, it is remarkable how fast AI works, but also how inaccurate it is. And unlike a visual based on a 3D model, it cannot be easily tweaked without ending up with a completely different result. AI clearly likes to play but, at this point in time, it doesn’t yet innovate. Put bluntly it is regurgitating design elements already out there and compiling them into new images. One could argue that this is what designers do, but design is not about instant gratification, it provides a thoughtful solution to a brief or a problem that takes time to develop and layer. This requires a creative and investigative process; developing the right solution, while also taking reality into account. Diving deeper into how we could use it in our work, there are immediate time savers, such as tweaking and tidying existing images.

Mix Interiors

Piotr Kalinowski at MXD recounted using it as creative stimulation – seeing what it comes up with and using it to trigger ideas. Going forward I am more excited about how it might integrate into technical design stages and Revit models, where less innovation and more knowledge is required and tasks are more repetitive – door schedules anyone? Getting AI to turn a detailed 3D model created by the design team into working drawings, adding the required technical info and compliance checks, would no doubt be welcomed by the profession. Some software already started working to (PRC) regulations, and whilst anecdotally it’s still unreliable, clearly this is coming. Human minds bring innovation, creativity, critical thinking, compassion and analysis to the design process, which is currently not within AI's capabilities, or certainly not the readily available versions. We might someday soon be facing real artificial intelligence that matches our brains, but I firmly believe it will not be HAL 9000 (for those Space Odyssey aficionados), but a more benign force to help us move forward.

Introducing Rowan - Timeless versatility for you. At Bisley, we’re doing things a little differently – we’re able to provide a true home from home, where this capsule collection balances character and charm with simplicity and function. Maximise your storage capacity or make a bold statement to your space with the introduction of Rowan. bisley.com

Porthole 65 Compact in-desk power module perfect for charging laptops, tablets and smart phones. -

A choice of UK, Schuko, French/Belgian, Italian or Swiss socket.


USB Type A 18W quick charging socket.


USB Type C 65W adaptive fast charging socket.


Fitted with 1.5mm cable to 3-pole GST male connector (starter lead sold separately).


Supplied with a hand fixing nut, to secure the module to a standard 80mm grommet hole (for desk thicknesses between 12mm and 42mm).


Available in black, white and grey.

+44 (0) 1709 829511 www.cmd-ltd.com

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.