It’s easy to pigeonhole a person based on his or her profession.
Loathe as we are to admit it, we probably fall into this trap just the same as everyone else.
A recent meeting with Stephen Nash, founder of Hackney-based design studio ALL&NXTHING, however, reminded us that people can surprise you.
This guy, you see, exudes an energy and a freshness that caught us off guard.
And because we believe this to be a good thing, we thought we’d reach out and ask if he'd be game to answer a few questions.
Thankfully, he agreed and this is what we learned:
EBTD: We know you love mid century furniture because you’ve shopped with us before, so there’s no use in denying it! We note, however, that it also appears throughout the themes you create. Can you tell us why you feel comfortable placing this kind of furniture? Is it looks, materials, playing to trends or perhaps a combination of all three?
ALL&NXTHING: Definitely a combination of all three. I do love mid century furniture. Both of my grandmothers had houses full of the stuff, so I’ll probably always have an affinity for it. The mid century furniture 'trend' has gone from strength-to-strength over the past few years and this obviously makes it easier to place with clients. For me, though, it’s not really about the trend. It is the look, the beautiful materials and the craftsmanship that comes with good quality mid century pieces. For me, mid century can fit in almost any style space. Doesn’t matter if it’s an Ercol chair in a farmhouse kitchen or a G Plan sideboard in an ultra-modern living room. It always seems to work.
EBTD: One of our favourite questions to ask interior designers is how furniture figures in their planning. How does it work at ALL&NXTHING HQ? Do you start with furniture, end with furniture or do it when other fundamentals are in place?
ALL&NXTHING: It is a little different with each project but typically I look to get the bones of the space right first, and by that I mean the size, structure and colour palette. Furniture, however, brings life to the space so it always features in the planning conversations as this helps us ensure the functionality, flow and look is right. We tend to leave choosing specific items until further down the line, though. Having said all that, I have just designed an entire room around a huge statement sofa!
EBTD: Your interiors have an exposed feel that we love and we think our readers will, too. Do you have any advice for getting the best results with the likes of nude plaster?
ALL&NXTHING: I love showing off the bones of a building as much as possible. Whether that is exposed steel, brick, nude plaster or concrete. With that said, it is important not to force it. It’s about working with the materials of the building, leaving raw elements on display because it feels right and never simply for effect. That is where people go wrong in my opinion. For the best results, be honest with the space and design. For example, if there is no brick there to expose, don’t fake it. Add a different texture like nude plaster. If you introduce artificial brickwork, it could end up looking contrived.
EBTD: We also love the use of colours in your themes. It is, in our experience, all too easy to just stick with white for fear of making a mistake. Any tips for anyone who is similarly scared?
ALL&NXTHING: That’s a great way of putting it. It is usually fear that stops people going a bit more nuts. My only tip is to take the plunge. Colour is addictive and once you say “f@£k it, I’m doing it” and colour up one room, others swiftly follow as confidence comes thick and fast. Hey, you can always paint it back! If you are concerned about full block colour in a space, do half/ three quarters of the wall height in white. It can keep a space bright and spacious but adds interest. My advice is to avoid doing one statement wall of colour. I think using less colour throughout the whole room is way more effective.
EBTD: Interiors blogger Alice Collyer recently wrote a compelling article about committing to her home instead of moving to a new abode. As someone who has been involved in some pretty extensive renovations, do you have anything to add on this subject? Does there, for example, come a point when you have to say to a client: “if you want that look, you’ll need to move”.
ALL&NXTHING: I think people can underestimate the impact that even small renovations can have on the look and feel of a house. When we engage with clients who have great properties with great promise, I really try to work with the bones of the space so we can find a solution that allows them to stay and enjoy the look they really want.
There are some factors, however, that may mean committing to your current property just doesn’t make sense. There is, for example, rarely a way around the realities of a growing family, financial constraints or planning restrictions. In cases like these, I would advise a client to move rather than spend money on something that won’t work.
EBTD: Our other favourite question is to ask about the next big trend. So come on: what’s hot in 2018?
ALL&NXTHING: Hansel, he’s so hot right now.
EBTD: We walked into that one, didn’t we?
ALL&NXTHING: You did. On a serious note, though, I hate the thought of following trends but I guess when you take inspiration from a lot of places, you do get influenced by them somewhat.
When it comes to furniture, I think mid century and Nordic-made furniture is going to stay popular for some time. If you’re talking about material and texture, terrazzo is getting hotter by the minute. We put an amazing cast terrazzo counter top in our bespoke kitchen in De Beauvoir last year and it has attracted a lot of attention recently.
When it comes to walls and décor, I think more ‘unusual’ decorating textures and styles will be big moving forward. Wood and concrete on walls is already up there and now it’s moving onto nude and Venetian plasters, metals and cork. For the quicker and more affordable differences, more outside of the box paint finishes and boxy, split colours are likely to grow.
My overriding advice to clients is to think about creating a space which you can tweak or add to over time. Ultimately, though, it’s essential to choose a style or look based on what you love, not based on what trends tell you that you should love for 2018.
If you'd like to find out more about how ALL&NXTHING can help you with an upcoming project, get in touch with the guys directly and lay out your vision.
For a deeper insight into the work they do, check out the ALL&NXTHING Instagram profile.
If you feel like maybe all you need is to freshen up your space, head to our mid century furniture collection and take it from there.