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Sara Foster BA Hons - on the recent KBB Live show

Sara Foster and Lesley Taylor

Taylors Etc were thrilled to be nominated for two KBB Awards this year, walking away with the win for design work produced by Zoe Curtis was a parictular highlight of the evening! Here we hear from nominated designer Sara Foster BA Hons about her thoughts on the KBB Live show which runs at the same time as the award ceremony.

Firstly, it was so exciting to be a nominated finalist in the KBB Review Awards 2016! Secondly exploring the trade show and grabbing new ideas and inspiration for future designs were equally as fun! 

Zoe and I were in Birmingham attending the trade show where we watched our Director Lesley Taylor give a presentation to other trading companies and suppliers on tips and her journey to opening a Lifestyle store. We were able to see new suppliers and products on show but also how others had used materials and design features on their stands.

As we marched up and down the endless rows of kitchens and bathrooms, the majority of our focus seemed to be in the kitchen department. As bathroom and soft furnishing designers you would think we would avoid this sector of the industry as we dont provide kitchens ourselves. However, being out of our comfort zone proved fruitful; we gathered more ideas and inspiration from the kitchen stands than we did in our own environment.

Tip: New sectors, new ideas…

A striking display which automatically caught our eye was on the Nolte Kitchen Stand. A large block of walnut creating an elevated breakfast bar on the island stood out as its own identity, but paired with a satin finish glass work top running alongside brings a new essence of materials working together, “modern meets au natural”. That glimpse of natural walnut was also used to bury framed alcoves in the sides of the kitchen island adding warmth and open storage for those neater items you want on display. Would this work in a bathroom? Of course!

Lets move away from the ‘classic’ punched in tiled alcoves and think more design led options. You can recreate this idea by using ready made furniture pieces from the well known brand Laufen in the Palomba range. You can create the opening by slotting in the open storage to create a similar look, or if you want that thicker wood effect edge then opt for the Lounge Range from SMA.

Note: For bathrooms you need to be careful that the material will withstand a bathroom environment

Want that thick block of wood but without the expense? Easy! At Taylors etc one design tool we like to use is tileable shelving which is fabricated in the clients chosen tile (with our help of course).  If you like a natural vibe, using this concept and the correct tile and finish, you can recreate this look and perhaps have a bath which is sunken into what appears to be a walnut effect block of wood. However, if classical contemporary is more your style, opt for a marble effect porcelain which would give you a bathing space of high end elegance. At Taylors Etc we have a range called Technical Marble which is 6mm thick and comes in large format sizes. The beauty of this range is the characteristic of it being lightweight. Real marble would not only be pricey but would involve reinforcing walls and limitations of what can be done. The large formats give a seamless look so it would appear it has been cut from slabs.

Tip: Be mindful of the edging. Mitred joints will make all the difference.

We seemed to have loitered around the kitchen department a little longer than expected with the high volume of great design and innovative ideas, however one bathroom brand which did catch our eyes were Hurlingham… Wowza!

In one section of Lesley’s presentation, she mentioned that if staff are not enthusiastic, excited or inspired by a product then it will not sell. Everyone must be on board. Within half an hour of the presentation, this became very true. Walking past the Hurlingham stand was like walking into a wall.  As the four of us all clustered in together ooooing and ahhhing we all became a fan of the products on show.

We all became magpies and were drawn to the finishes of shiny copper, mother of pearl, and silver nickel.  There were freestanding baths with their own matching magazine racks and towel holders, and a collection of counter top basins in the same finishes giving each range their own identity. The cluster of shower heads also became a show stopper and a copper skin shower tray which is what a designer likes to see, unusual and thought out. A sense of identity.

When buying into a new brand you also want to receive good customer service. This brand also made us feel at ease and took the time to speak with us and tell us about their products.

Tip: When buying a new product you want to know the support is there. Opt for brands with good reputations.

Not only were the basins and baths eye catching, but also the furniture which it was combined with. Raw materials like wooden blocks paired with industrial legs gave an organic but edgy effect to the display. I’m not sure about other designers but I find it hard to come across a wooden basin unit which is elegant but small enough to cater for those small en-suites. This seemed to be a perfect solution.

Seeing a lot of layered pieces within the show I think the team at Taylors Etc may start creating an inlfux of new designs which have been inspired by this years KBB Live show, inparticular its kitchen section!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
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