In Conversation with Tiffany Grant-Riley
Minimalism, Nordic interiors and concepts of slow living have recently become recurring themes at EBTD.
This may come as no surprise.
After all, it wouldn’t take a genius to connect the kind of mid century and Scandinavian furniture we sell to any of these ideas.
That does not, however, mean we consider ourselves experts.
That would just be arrogant and foolish.
Since these are two adjectives we never want to be associated with, we reached out to Tiffany Grant-Riley, interior stylist and author of the brilliant Curate and Display blog which focuses on these themes, to brush up on what we think we know and to find out what we don’t.
Thankfully, Tiffany agreed to answer our questions and this is what we learned:
EBTD: You describe yourself as an aspiring minimalist. That suggests to us that minimalism is a journey rather than a destination. Is that a fair comment?
TG-R: Most definitely. Minimalism isn’t just something you can achieve overnight and have done with it. Although it’s an aesthetic and some prefer it for that reason, it’s an every day mindset. Ultimately, it’s about claiming back physical and mental space and that means regularly checking in with what you have and the things you do in life. It’s little things, like learning to say no to too much and buying and using only what you need and love.
EBTD: How does your choice of furniture fit into your aesthetic? For example, do you look for storage options that help you hide clutter or do you pick items that force you to consider how much of what you already have do you really need?
TG-R: That can take a bit of restraint sometimes, especially when I fall for a particular piece of furniture! I don’t like to shoehorn furniture into our home purely because I like it though, because then it doesn’t always fit with the room and how we use it. We have two young children, so when I choose furniture it has to be appropriate—does it store the items we want to tidy away? Is it the right size? Is it hard-wearing? I like pieces with simple lines that show the natural quality of the materials it’s made from, but it also has to work hard and serve a purpose.
EBTD: Your writing is peppered with references to Scandinavian and Nordic themes. What would you say to any of our readers who are trying to recreate either of these looks and is there a difference between them?
TG-R: That’s a tricky one because they are more or less one and the same. I talk a lot about New Nordic, which is a contemporary translation of the Scandinavian design aesthetic. Design houses like Norm Architects, Menu and Muuto are creating designs in traditional Scandinavian materials such as pale woods, marble and concrete with new production techniques, shapes and colourways. Scandinavian style is often seen as minimalist and monochromatic, but there is a history of colour and pattern there, too. The key to creating this look is to embrace space and choose simple, natural furniture with a muted palette. I like to create contrast in my home, so I’ll often use black or dark blue against a white, then add in greys, nudes and beige. I love linen, bamboo, plywood and wool, too. Anything with a beautiful, natural aesthetic.
EBTD: Your work must have introduced you to countless effective and inspiring interior themes. However, if you had to identify three elements that appear consistently throughout the best ones, what would they be?
TG-R: Negative space is really important. When a space is too crammed with stuff it can feel overwhelming, so allowing some of your walls to breath gives the room a more considered, edited feel. Pieces with a story make a space entirely yours. As much as I love contemporary design, I think collected items from your travels or family heirlooms give a home real personality. For example, I have a small collection of Victorian clay pots that my mum found for me because she saw how much I loved hers. Then there’s a 1940's Lloyd Loom Lustre chair that my husband bought me for my birthday ten years ago. It doesn’t exactly “fit” anywhere at the moment but I love it. The last thing I would say is light. Whether it’s natural or artificial, it really enhances a room when it’s done right. Even if a room is dark, embracing what it is with dark paint really sets off the mood. Layered lighting is great too, from task lighting for reading, general floor lamps and even dimmers help to set the right atmosphere in the evenings. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a room with a stark overhead light on!
EBTD: You’re the co-founder of Function+Form, a unique concept that brings like-minded people together in inspiring spaces and showcases emerging designers. What’s the most exciting new idea you’ve seen of late and can we come down some time?!
TG-R: Yes, I founded Function+Form with my good friend and fellow blogger Annie Kruse because we felt that a regular event for design enthusiasts was needed. We haven’t been able to organise one recently due to moving house and family commitments but we have more on the horizon this year now the dust has settled! We’ve done all sorts, including tours of architect Chris Dyson’s Spitalfields home and a breakfast with the self-taught potter Jono Smart, who was clearly born to work with clay. The most exciting event we organised was a weekend design tour of Antwerp. We visited a local art gallery which showcased Dutch and Belgian designers and got to see how the docks are being redeveloped by a local architect who showed us round. You certainly can join us when we have more up and coming events—if you email via our website then we can let you know.
EBTD: And the question we ask everyone we talk to: what should we look out for in 2018?
TG-R: I don’t really like to follow trends too closely as I think they encourage the throw-away culture we’re all very aware of now. What I would say is that it’s no longer an added extra that design brands are producing sustainable, waste conscious products. It’s now fast becoming an expectation that new products are designed with the environment in mind and these processes are built into that journey. We are looking at more biophilic ways of living too that help us connect with nature to take us out of the fast-paced, “always on” lifestyle we’ve come to know. It’s no surprise the whole urban jungle movement has taken off in the way that it has and that furniture made from natural materials creates such strong connections within our homes.
Visit the Function+Form site to find out what’s on the horizon for this exciting project.
Should you also be left feeling like it’s time you updated your furniture to suit any changes you are making in your life, take yourself to our mid century furniture or Scandinavian furniture collections and keep that ball rolling.