Month: January 2018

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What’s in a name? And addicted to Instagram…

I’ve been on instagram a little while, but I mostly left it alone until recently.  I know it’s not the right thing to say, but I’m not much of a user of social media personally.   I don’t know where the hours go when I’m on there and I find it difficult to moderate my time, and to give proper attention to the real world.

But instagram is just so damn pretty!  I can’t stop looking at the moment.  As if I hadn’t wasted enough time #justlooking this week, there I found myself one day on a site where you can find your ideal instagram name (I originally set up our account with the handle SturmanCo).  “Sturmanthegerman” and “piemansturman” were amongst the gems I unearthed on (don’t go there -I’ll never get those minutes back).   Not to be taken seriously, but it did get me thinking a couple of things.  Firstly, there are a lot of men in those those names!  Secondly, German and Pieman?!  What does the single word “SturmanCo” say about what our design practice?

I should say I love Germany and have no problem with being mistaken as being from there. I took a traditional view when I took my husband’s name “Sturman” and I’m proud to have adopted a name from ancestors who once steered ships across the cold seas of Northern Europe. Having grown up in Newcastle upon Tyne, it even amuses me a little to have “man” in my name – I used to end most of my sentences with that word.

And so I am a happy Sturman and our interior design studio is proudly called Sturman & Co.  It’s especially important that our growing little team is recognised for their fabulousness by the “&Co.” bit.  We now deliver on a volume of projects that I couldn’t manage without their valued support.  When I was naming the business, I chose to use my surname not my first name because I am a professional – and it felt right to me.

But IRL I have always been Bess – both professionally and personally.  A couple of clients have referred to their houses as having been “Bess-ed” over the years.   The designs and inspirations on this page are the result of a personal collaboration between me and my clients, hence the new name and tag @bess_designs for our instagram account.   Please come on over and see what we’re up to.  Meanwhile, this picture was taken in my last studio (I’ll post pics on instagram of the new one when it’s ready) by very talented lady @photokathryn. Whilst I’m in personal mode I may as well confess – IRL I look nowhere near as good as this!

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Bo Selecta! Hello 2018

What with news, audiobooks and Heart 80s dominating my usual car audio, I don’t listen to much proper music radio any more.  But when I heard the dulcet tones of Trevor Nelson being interviewed about his career this week, I left the dial on Radio 2 and tuned right in for a nostalgia trip back to the 90s.

Image credit BBC Radio 1

Trevor was talking about the difference between being a ‘Selecta’ or a DJ – he identifies himself as a Selecta.  The difference (I didn’t know) is that DJs mess with the music they’re playing, whilst a Selecta chooses the right music for the right time.   So I am a little closer to understanding what Bo Selecta! actually means.   It’s also an interesting contrast which gets me thinking one of my favourite thoughts; what are the real differences between art and design?  If a DJ is an artist, is a Selecta a designer?   And where on this spectrum can a really good interior designer fit in?

Image Credit: Damon Kelly, Ligature 23

Trevor Nelson has 10,000 records and regularly sheds extras from his collection because he knows he’ll never have the time to listen to them all again.  If he looks at the sleeve and can’t hear the music in his head, it’s time to say goodbye.  Again, there’s a parallel – we’ve been relocating the Sturman & Co. Studio this week and I found myself asking a similar question as we moved and sorted hundreds, if not thousands, of fabric and wallpaper samples.  Could I love this thing (fabric, wallpaper, metal sample) enough to recommend it?  As we haven’t recommended it so far (more on that later) would it actually be better to shed the baggage and keep looking for new ideas?

Sorting out some pink fabrics in our new studio space this week

Meanwhile, a hundred emails have landed from suppliers of all sorts since 1 January shouting and showing off everybody’s new collection.  The “New You”, “New Now” phenomenon is everywhere at this time of year.  But how appealing is the summer right now, the brightness and freshness of June, July and August?  And the feeling of relaxation that comes in the mid-year, when our resolutions are a distant memory. Sigh.

So we’ve sorted the silks, linens and velvets that once had enough intrigue to justify ordering a sample, but haven’t yet made it into a client’s home or business, into two piles.  The keepers are back in our sample drawers.  We have a strict policy at Sturman & Co. that we never use a scheme-defining accent piece twice, so we catalogue these carefully too.   A statement lamp, a funky accent fabric or a piece of furniture won’t be top of our list once we’ve already used it, as we don’t want to be the sort of studio that rolls out the same ideas time after time.  Our clients come to us for something original and bespoke to them.  This policy keeps the team focused in our creativity and the ‘art’ side of our work.

When we are playing a ‘Selecta’ role the order of play is the key.  We love linens and velvet, but whether it’s cushions, sofas or walls, our chosen placement is the surprise.  Teal, yes please.  Walls, fabrics or just a peacock’s tail accessory, perhaps?  The Selecta takes things we already know and places them in a new way, in the right place, for the right time, for the right person.

As for the part of being an interior designer who is more like an artist or DJ? I love that part too.  We have several bespoke furniture designs on our studio desks at the moment.  From a giant coffee table that will fit around a structural steel pole to a regency-inspired media cabinet, it can be so fun and rewarding to create something never made before.  You can watch this space to see these and other designs come to life in 2018.

And meanwhile, have a lovely weekend.  I’m putting some 90s tunes on!