Listen to our very own Petra Akro discussing ‘Where is the Value in Real Estate’? alongside fellows in the industry: Dara Huang from Design Haus Liberty, Rory Cramer from HomeViews, and Nicolas Roux from Rive Gauche. Panel led by Eporta’s Melissa McCafferty.
Bergman & Mar, in partnership with Pocket Living, has curated a unique show apartment to celebrate British design. The interior design studio has invited talented emerging and established local craftsmen to exhibit their pieces in a beautifully curated space in Bollo Lane - Pocket's new development in Chiswick.
The 'Makers Apartment' offers local artisans the opportunity to see and display their pieces in a residential space, while the overall aesthetic showcases how natural materials and craftsmanship can create a warm, liveable space in a modern building.
Check out the project on our website: https://bergmanandmar.com/home#/makers-show-apartment-chiswick/
Bergman & Mar, in partnership with Pocket Living, have recently curated a very unique show apartment. Located in the heart of West London, the project was designed specifically to celebrate great British design and craftsmanship.
Take a quick tour of the project below.
From the furniture chosen to the art and accessories on display, everything in the 'Makers Apartment' was designed and manufactured by skilled artisans in the UK (many of whom also work with eporta).
The intention was to offer local makers the opportunity to see and display their pieces in a residential space, while the overall aesthetic showcases how natural materials and craftsmanship can create a beautifully warm, liveable space in a modern building.
The living area continues the harmonious pairing of contemporary style and craftsmanship. At its centre sits a coffee table designed and made especially for the apartment by Nottingham-based designer, Olivia Aspinall.
With bronze detailing and wide tubular legs, the table not only works well in the apartment but also showcases a great example of some of this year's top interior trends.
On venturing into the bedrooms, we see more evidence of recent interior trends in play. Dusky toned paints from Bauwerk Colour are used to created textured walls which replicate a concrete-like feel - a trend we noted on the rise in 2019/20.
These walls are paired with a selection of structural furniture and accessories, notably the pairing of Charles Dedman's award-winning Turner Carver chair and Novocastrian's Port Freestanding mirror creates a subtle aesthetic interest.
In the Master Bedroom (pictured above), Naomi Paul's crocheted lights also make an appearance. Intricately woven in wool, these hand-made lights bring an additional element of tactility to the space.
Adding a final touch of authenticity, an eclectic collection of oil paintings and wallhangings run throughout the apartment. Paintings from Lisa King, Sarah Needham (pictured below) and Petra Arko (the founder of Bergman & Mar) are featured, alongside a ceramic wall hanging from Unit 89. Each piece of artwork helps contribute to the vibrancy and uniqueness of the interior.
Find a number of the pieces mentioned in this article, along with a few other examples of the beautiful craftsmanship featured in The Makers Apartment on Eporta’s website: https://www.eporta.com/buyer-home/
To find out more about Bergman & Mar, you can recap Eporta’s interview with their founder, Petra Arko.
Written by Eporta’s Jessica Walker
London Design Fair London Design Fair 2019 was held at the Old Truman Brewery. It saw different countries from across the world represented by their best and freshest designers. Here are some of our favourite finds from the fair…
Californian-based Melanie Abrantes combines traditional craft techniques with contemporary designs, showcasing the most beautiful cork, timber, and glass bases. Her ink ice method creates an incredible watercolour effect on timber.
Altrock showcased their marble-based terrazzo surfaces which they produce in East London. Where we have previously seen terrazzo as many small chips we see it here as large broken slabs of marble.
Danish company Le Klint collaborate with architects and designers to supply the now iconic pleated lampshade. At the fair we saw their new designs alongside original designs from 1965, highlighting the consistently contemporary nature of the company.
From Shabby Chic to London's Finest!
After leaving her job as a business consultant eight years ago, Petra Arko began her career in interior design. From working with some of London's best designers to finding a niche in the market for her studio - Bergman & Mar - Petra tells us a little more about her design story so far.
First of all, tell us a little about yourself and your studio Bergman & Mar?
Where do I begin? Well, I was born in Slovenia, a tiny little country in the South of Europe. I left when I was 21 to go and study to become a business consultant in Australia. I continued to do that when I moved to England until around eight or nine years ago when I decided to change my career completely.
I had always been interested in interior design but, coming from a country with a population of only around 2 million people, a career in the industry never seemed feasible. One beautiful day, a friend came to me and said: "My girlfriend's going to start an interior design studio". I pretty much leapt at the opportunity straight away; it's been a dream ever since.
So, you mentioned you had an interest in interior design but had you had any industry experience beforehand?
I like to think I had designed for myself, and I certainly had a great passion for furniture in general. But no, no 'real' experience. If anything, a considerable lack of it!
It's interesting how things change! What are the standout learnings you've made so far as an interior designer?
So many! This career has been an enormous learning curve for me ever since I started. Perhaps the most significant learning I've made is that every problem has a solution. When things go wrong, or something happens with a project or a client, I've come to realise that it's not the end of the world. In fact, I now think of the issues I encounter as obstacles in my path I have to step over or navigate a new way around.
I think this has been an excellent lesson for running a business as well as for designing itself. Mistakes, obstacles, whatever they might be, they're just a part of life. They're not there to destroy your chances, but to teach you new, better ways of moving forward!
Your design studio, Bergman & Mar, is renowned for its fantastic work with London's property developers. Can you elaborate a little on how this specialism came about?
I guess it came about because I've always had a great passion for furniture and furnishings, instead of necessarily the interior architecture side of things. As a result, I've always specialised more in FF&E - it's what I like the most.
When I worked with Sophie Ashby at Spring and Mercer, my role was to find luxury furnishings for the projects we worked on together. From then on, it just kind of continued this way. When I started Bergman & Mar, I noticed there was a bit of a niche in the market for furnishing the apartments of property developers, those which already had quite determined interior architecture. I saw this and just went with it, it felt natural to me, and it allows me to do what I enjoy the most; finding furniture!
When it comes to furnishing the projects for property developers, have you noticed any particular trends in the market right now?
I'm not sure if it's necessarily a trend but, recently, I've noticed that our clients are no longer looking for super high-end, 'luxury' interiors. A move away from creating spaces that feel slightly out of touch with society towards schemes that look a lot more approachable, that actually feel liveable instead. I think my clients at least, seem to be placing much more emphasis on practicality.
People still desire unique pieces, though, and they always want high quality, but this just comes in a slightly different form now. For a lot of people, it's essential to find those niche suppliers and products that nobody has discovered before. I love this development, as it has allowed us to work with more emerging, honest suppliers and help them grow their businesses too. That's really important to me.
Other than finding unique pieces for clients, what inspires your interior projects?
I think, first and foremost, the brief and the client. We don't necessarily have a 'house style', so each project is inspired by its own context.
It's important to say that, where we find inspiration for a project also depends a lot on budget. A project with a budget of £10,000 will be inspired quite differently to one of £300,000.
Even though every project is bespoke to the client, do you think you have any signature design trait that identifies you no matter what?
Yes. I don't think you can escape those! My overarching rule is that interiors should always be useful and practical, and they have to make sense. Because of that, I definitely have a few features which I always encourage my clients to invest in. You'll often spot a feature armchair or a timeless sofa, for example, in Bergman & Mar's projects.
When I was growing up in Slovenia, we never had a sofa as there wasn't really enough space. It was my childhood dream for us to have a big, comfy sofa in the house... maybe that's why they usually pop up in my projects today!
What would you say is your proudest design moment to date?
That's a hard one, but I think I'd say our recent project, The Makers Apartment. It was almost like everything we value and believe in came together for it!
For the project, we had to create a London show apartment for Pocket Living, using furnishings and accessories from London and UK based artisans. We worked with over 67 different suppliers for the project and every single piece - from the lighting to bars of soap on display - had been created just for that apartment. Olivia Aspinall helped us to design a coffee table, Sebastian Cox made furnishings, and many others dedicated beautiful pieces to bring the space to life.
Everyone involved showed such a massive spirit of generosity, giving their time and energy into making the project a success. It was a wonderful, collaborative project.
More broadly speaking, what do you think are the most critical factors affecting the future of the design industry right now?
Firstly, the environmental impact of what we do. Moving forward, designers are going to need to start considering everything from a sustainable perspective. From the materials we use, to how far we transport them, and then how long we actually use them in our homes! Although it's tempting to buy "fast furniture" - I know I've certainly done it myself - we must start encouraging people to invest in things that really last.
Secondly, I think the design industry is going to become more digital. Not only is furniture becoming more easily accessible online, but visualisation, artificial intelligence and 3D technologies will also be used more and more. I know that some people worry this will send designers out of business. But do I think that? No, not really. I think it will probably help clients to visualise what a space will look like and that might help designers to actually win business. I think it's an exciting moment to be in design!
Lastly, what advice would you give to designers just starting out?
My personal advice would be to go and work for other studios before starting out for yourself. I know I didn't do it myself, but I think it's essential to learn from other people and make mistakes while they're still there to help you! When you're working for a known studio, you'll also have more opportunity to build a portfolio of diverse projects. These experiences will be precious if you ever decide to venture out on your own!
Where is your happy place?
Home with my family.
If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing?
Where is your favourite place for design inspiration?
What would your dream project be?
A small boutique hotel chain.
Written by Eporta’s Jessica Walker
World-renowned architect Luis Barragan is known for his strong use of colour and geometric forms. His buildings have been described as autobiographical, as he is not dictated by convenience, rather his own emotions. This is evident in his own home and studio, Casa Barragan, which is centred around an oasis of a garden, whose facade is understated, and floor levels and room heights irregular.
Barragan has been hugely influential in design, with homages of bright hues popping up in contemporary architecture, interiors, and fashion. Barragan encouraged the intersection of different areas of design.
“I don’t divide architecture, landscape and gardening; to me they are one”.
The studio, led by Harvard educated architect Dara Huang, designed Villa Mosca Bianca as a holiday home for a retired couple who wanted a place where they could host family members on the shore of Lago Maggiore.
"The terraces were organically drawn almost as wings coming off the house," Huang says. "Each petal provides an opportunity to create a platform for the owner's hobbies such as yoga, eating, barbecue or hot tubbing."
The lakefront site dictated many aspects of Design Haus Liberty's design, including the need to raise the house three metres above the waterline.
Design Haus Liberty conceived of the house as comprising three layers, with a large sheltered deck connecting the outside space with the internal living area. At the heart of the building is a circular courtyard containing a 70-year-old bonsai tree.
Interiors were decorated in a neutral palette, chosen to minimise any distractions from the scenery. Stone is used throughout the to introduce a natural tone and texture to the otherwise minimal aesthetic.