• Scandi is king - King Gustav III

    0 comments / Posted on by James Pilsworth

    Gustavian white dresser in garden roomIn 2017, Scandi is king. From New York to Tokyo, the world voraciously consumes culture, cuisine and design from this small corner of northern Europe. Nowhere is this more true than in the field of interiors. Few homes are without a token of this trend, whether it be through furniture, decor or ambience. It has been given the nickname of “democratic design”, such is its accessibility to the world at large. You could be forgiven for thinking this a recent development but Swedish design has always been innovative and has a pedigree stretching back centuries. The desire for simplification of form and understated elegance is nothing new and it began to flourish most dramatically under the reign of King Gustav III in the 18th Century.


    Gustav was a middling monarch politically but he is held in high regard for his appreciation of culture. He used his power to cultivate a national identity based around theatre, music and the arts and his most enduring legacy in design is the style which came to be called “Gustavian”. An extended visit to the French court in the 1770’s entranced Gustav; he was captivated by the neo-classical grandeur of Versailles and returned to Sweden determined to create his own Paris in the north.

    This personal campaign for perfection did not consist of simply mimicking French design and dropping it wholesale into Stockholm. A practical sort, Gustav recognised the need to create an aesthetic that took the best aspects of what he had seen in France while imbuing it with a uniquely Scandinavian flavour. The dark, sumptuous palette of Versailles was completely unsuitable in a country used to squeezing every drop of light from long winter nights so the new style embraced the use of crisp white and pale hues. Extensive use of gilding - these were royal palaces, after all - accentuated the qualities of candlelight and created an atmosphere of understated opulence. If Swedish design can be said to be a constant process of simplification, this is where the journey truly began.

    As previously mentioned, Gustavian design is a pared-back version of French neoclassicism. This movement was a response to the Greek and Roman antiquities being collected in vast numbers by the aristocracy and is defined by a love of symmetry and simplicity. Tables, chairs and cabinets are usually carved with scallop detailing, often with a rosette at the top. Clean lines are highly prized. These qualities began to amplify as the desire for furniture like that of the King began to spread out from the aristocracy and into the middle classes. From this point on, Gustavian furniture became more rustic and homespun. Where the upper-classes used white and gold, the masses brought in pastel tones and an unfussy sense of simple decoration. Nowadays it’s rare to find a truly white piece of Gustavian; the paints were mixed by hand using whatever pigments were available so most have faded to the warm grey that is now considered such a key part of the aesthetic.

    The elements of Gustavian design may have been born from the unique circumstances of their time but they have proven to be very-well suited to our tastes today. The muted colours, honest materials and restrained sense of decoration are completely at home in the contemporary home. These rare antiques also speak to our desire for uniqueness and originality. They are that rare group of objects that bind together heritage and progression. We at Cotswold Grey are thrilled to be able to offer a selection of these prized pieces for sale in Moreton in Marsh.

    Individual character

    Each one has a character uniquely its own. “Gustavian 7” is characterised by a soft, undulating pattern. The wood flows like ripples on the surface of water. Open the lid and you discover a labyrinth of drawers and cupboards painted in a chalky blue with the luminance of moonlight. “Gustavian 10” meanwhile possesses the almost mathematic order of a Roman temple. It is all right-angles and reeding, painted in the powdery tone of dusk.

    These pieces are individuals and each lends a distinct quality to the room they are displayed in. It’s impossible to capture their subtlety and charm in writing or even a photograph; they have to be experienced and felt. You’ll find a wonderful sense of history and exquisite design in the pieces here in our showroom. Be sure to pay us a visit and sample their elegance for yourself.  

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  • TierlanTijn

    0 comments / Posted on by James Pilsworth

    Handmade finish, authentic natural materials and robust presentation are the hallmarks of TierlanTijn’s range of artisan lighting. Produced using entirely traditional methods with a keen focus on quality design, their lighting solutions bring integrity and originality to any interior.  

    The company’s story began in a little shed in the Netherlands village of Rijsbergen back in 1994. Paula Gelissen - along with her sons Michel and Martijn - began experimenting with moulds to create plaster and concrete ornaments and soon found a market for their handmade products. As the years passed, the two brothers gradually found themselves focusing more and more on the production of distinctive and innovative lighting. Their collection grew rapidly and in 2000 it became necessary to move to a larger building, where TierlanTijn remain today. The brothers still oversee the design and production of their products and the company is known for its quality and craftsmanship. 

    A focus on stunning natural materials such as copper, weather-beaten wood and stoneware gives Tierlantijn’s range a distinctive aesthetic
    that celebrates clean lines and unfussy surfaces. No detail is superfluous and every element of every object has been carefully considered.

    Not content to merely explore style over function, many of their lamps are fully adjustable, ensuring that there is a lighting solution for
    every situation. 

    TierlanTijn also design and produce a range of shades to accompany their lamps, hand-stitched from heavy linens and of impeccable quality. Interchangeable between different pieces, they perfectly compliment the company’s fine, simple and solid finish and create a striking design statement.

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  • Beautiful Bronze

    0 comments / Posted on by James Pilsworth

    Bronze statue of two figures dancing: The LiftBronze sculpture has a certain magic about it. There’s something about the transformation of a heavy inert metal into grace, energy and movement that’s almost miraculous and artists have been captivated by the beauty of these pieces for the past five thousand years. They boast an integrity and attention to detail that is rare and precious in the modern world and bind us into a story that stretches all the way back to the beginnings of civilisation. At Cotswold Grey we’re big fans of craft and artistry so we are absolutely thrilled to be able to offer a stunning selection of bronze artworks for sale here in Moreton-in-Marsh.


    The quality of the work speaks for itself and we’re sure that our customers will agree that these are objects to be treasured. Our collection consists of thirteen fabulous sculptures that take in a wide variety of styles and subjects - from dancers to horses, mythology to surrealism. They introduce an effortless grace into any interior but their poise belies an intense and time-consuming process of creation. These pieces are a testament to unseen hard work and incredible skill.


    They are produced using the “lost wax process”, a technique that has barely changed since it was first developed in Ancient Greece. The process works as follows:


    Sculpture, moulding and wax

    It all begins with the artist. A sculptor will create an original work in clay, labouring to get the proportions and finish exactly right. It’s not uncommon for this to take months or even years; Rodin spent nearly four decades working on a set of doors for a Parisian museum and still never quite managed to complete them. It’s best not to rush this step since it’s where the soul of the work is created - good things come to those who wait after all.


    Once the artist is satisfied with their creation it leaves the studio and arrives at the foundry. Here, skilled artisans carefully apply layers of liquid rubber over the clay to create a flexible mould. Once dry this mould is gently peeled away from the clay sculpture, turned inside-out and filled with molten wax.


    Gating, dipping and burnout

    After this has cooled and set, the rubber is removed and the technicians are left with a perfect wax replica of the original work. Wax rods are then inserted into the sides of the sculpture; these will create drainage channels later in the process. At this point the piece will look somewhat bizarre to say the least with limbs stuck out in all directions. The strange creature is dipped into a vat of ceramic slurry so that a tougher mould can be built up around the wax. This is what will eventually hold the molten bronze. Once the ceramic has cured and set, it is partially chiselled away to expose the ends of the wax rods. The whole piece is then fired in a kiln. This melts the wax which drains away through the gates created by the rods (hence the name “lost wax” process).


    Bronze casting, break-out and finishing

    The result is a hollow ceramic mould that is ready to be filled with liquid bronze heated to 2200C. Once the bronze has cooled, the ceramic shell is broken apart and the gates are sawn off. The piece is now ready to be given its finishing touches. Casting marks and stubs from the gates are removed through a laborious process of sanding and polishing, then various patinas are applied to colour the metal. Finally, a thin coat of wax is applied to protect the finished sculpture.


    With so much artistry involved it’s not surprising that bronze artwork is highly sought-after and we feel very priviliged to be able to offer these pieces for sale. They have a palpable sense of gravitas about them and are the type of objects that become woven into family history and work their way down through the generations.


    These wonderful artworks can be viewed in our showroom on Moreton-in-Marsh High Street and are also featured on our website, although we strongly recommend paying us a visit to see them in the flesh and experience their beauty and craftmanship first hand.  


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  • The Science of Design

    0 comments / Posted on by James Pilsworth

    The team at the Design Centre, LondonLast week our passion for luxurious and innovative interiors took us far beyond Moreton-in-Marsh and all the way to the fabulous Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour. We’d been eagerly awaiting the chance to get our teeth into London Design Week and this year’s offering didn’t disappoint. With 120 exhibitors drawn from across the globe and over 100 talks to attend, the event offered an unparalleled opportunity to take the pulse of contemporary design and explore just what can be achieved with a little ambition and imagination.


    Science of Design

    The theme this year focused on the “Science of Design”. This included not only the science behind the makers and materials but also detours into botany, geology, chemistry and zoology. At Cotswold Grey we’ve spent the past few weeks looking at ways of bringing nature and the outdoors into the home, so it will perhaps come as little surprise to hear that we were very keen to explore how this idea has been embraced by the industry at large.

    Pantone’s confidence that a bright, tangy green would permeate the design world this year was well placed. Every exhibit seemed to burst with the colour of new vegetation and it flooded the building with a mood of relaxed wellbeing. Heavy cushions stitched from brilliant emerald linen gave a botanical flourish to neutral sofas while thoughtful accents of bright paint on the walls gave the rooms a wonderful sensation of freshness. We were bowled over by the vitality of what we saw and were soon sketching out ways of bringing some of this sensational energy back into the Moreton showroom.


    A preponderance of green

    A key part of our strategy will be based upon expanding the botanical theme that has already been exciting us. Make no mistake; of all the sciences in this year’s show, botany made its influence felt most keenly – and not only because of the preponderance of green. Mounted against almost every wall were enormous racks laden with hundreds of swatches of fabric, many of them printed with vivid images of foliage, flowers and fruit. There were times when it felt as though we’d wandered into one of Rousseau’s lush tropical rainforests; only the occasional rattle of the passing trains outside served to remind us that we were in fact trekking through deepest Chelsea.

    Anybody familiar with Cotswold Grey will know that we have a taste for the innovative, so we were very pleased to find a playful sense of wit in the interiors on display. We became particularly enamoured of a lamp constructed to look like ostrich feet poking out of a feathered shade (and found ourselves reminded of our own chicken feet candy bowls in the process). It was also fascinating to hear about one designer’s co-operation with the Tate Britain in painting the exhibition halls for David Hockney’s sell-out retrospective. For us it was the perfect expression of the idea that a good interior can transcend everyday life and be something approaching a work of art in its own right. To leave with a heightened sense of what good design can achieve was intensely satisfying.


    Embraced the best that interior design has to offer

    So there you have it; your Cotswold Grey correspondents are back in Gloucestershire and bursting with inspiration and ideas on how to bring your homes to life this spring. We’ve embraced the best that interior design has to offer and we’re eager to share. Pay us a visit in Moreton-in-Marsh to see what we’ve been experimenting with this week…




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  • Colour of The Year

    0 comments / Posted on by James Pilsworth

    Greenery image, dresser with botanical printsEvery twelve months the Pantone Colour Institute selects a particular tone that best captures the zeitgeist of contemporary culture. The chosen colour has traditionally gone on to influence every aspect of design and visual culture over the course of the following year, whether by dominating the runways of Paris Fashion Week, seeping into advertising or – of course – making its presence felt in interior design. After careful examination of the currents flowing through our particular moment, Pantone have designated “Greenery” as 2017’s “Colour of The Year”. This yellow-green hue is believed to signify freshness, new beginnings and most importantly a return to nature, an idea that we can all identify with in the hurly burly of our busy lives. 


    Peace, balance and harmony

    Green has a habit of repeatedly asserting itself as a key design colour; as recently as 2013 “Emerald” was selected as the year’s all-conquering tint and the Victorians delighted in covering their walls with vivid forest-green papers. We’re drawn into the embrace of this colour again and again for a number of reasons. Psychological tests have demonstrated that it relaxes the mind and soothes the viewer both mentally and physically. It has been shown to be effective in alleviating anxiety, nervousness and even in helping to reduce symptoms of depression. This is a colour that makes us feel safe and nurtured. In the field of interior design, green communicates the idea of peace, balance and harmony. It can also signify change and transformation. It’s hardly surprising then that this colour in all its permutations should be so popular. 

    Here at Cotswold Grey we believe in the importance of creating spaces that are as thoughtful and unique as you are. We don’t believe in being slaves to trends so we’ve chosen to take “Greenery” as the starting point for a different sort of design journey. Now that we are in the first flush of spring, the days are lengthening and the sunlight is growing stronger. A gentle blush of colour is beginning to settle over the Cotswold Landscape and it’s this subtle atmosphere that we are trying to capture in our interiors; greens that breathe like Egyptian cotton and rejuvenate the viewer.


    A fabulous springboard

    It isn’t necessary to saturate a room to evoke these sensations. Hanging a group of botanical prints on a feature wall will introduce a sense of nature and growth, while an arrangement of foliage and white flowers in a vase will add a softening touch. The use of natural materials such as wood – whether painted or stripped - accentuate this theme and add a sense of depth to your décor. One of the reasons that this soft green appeals to us is that it provides a fabulous springboard from which to accessorise. As a neutral shade it will tie together more vivid tones as well as hints of whites and creams; a plush sheepskin will lie just as sympathetically as a vivid turquoise vase, while splashes of gold will conjure the warmth of the sun on fresh foliage. For sheer versatility, soft spring greens are hard to beat. 


    A freedom to experiment

    The golden rule in this type of interior is unity and green is uniquely suited to this approach. It allows the freedom to experiment while never being overwhelming and will help you to shake off the stresses of the day. Now that the chill of winter is behind us, why not let a little nature into your rooms and luxuriate in the soft charms of this wonderful colour?

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