Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Perfect palette: Teal and mustard yellow

Apologies for the lack of activity, I have had a new distraction in the form of a puppy... meet Albert:

He is all settled in now, and so I can get back to my blogging routine!

Today's post is a short one, I am a big fan of teal in the home; it can be fresh or warm depending on the other hues you mix it with, which means it is a great colour for all seasons. A great colour combination is teal with mustard yellow, these complimentary colours together will brighten up a room. They work particularly well with the warm tone of oak furniture as well as grey upholstery.
glass ceiling pendant - John Lewis / yellow round vase - Bo Concept / everything else - Heals

Until next time!

Monday, 5 December 2011

All about.. Muralto UK

In my post today, I have an interview with Jane Buckley, joint owner of bespoke and production furniture suppliers Muralto UK.

Set up in South Africa by Swiss-born furniture designer Rene Hass (Jane's Uncle), Muralto ZA specialises in contemporary furniture design and manufacture. Husband and wife team Jane and John Buckley have brought this to the UK through Muralto UK. Not only do they provide bespoke design services to architects, interior designers and private clients, they are also extremely active in encouraging new designers through partnerships with the National Design Academy and the British Institute of Interior Design.

I came across Muralto a few weeks ago when I attended a seminar hosted at their London showroom, organised by the National Design Academy. I found the talk, given by John and Jane at the seminar very inspiring, and the furniture and accessories featured in their showroom is stunning.

(Scroll past the photos to read my interview with Jane)

Muralto UK is a fairly new business and a completely new industry for both of you - how did you go about starting a career in a new industry?

  • John and I had been looking at improving the production flow process at our family factory in Cape Town last year.  However, my background is in sales and I felt that albeit we could improve the production flow/costings, ultimately we needed a new sales channel to improve revenue and so here we are!

As owners of a fledgling business, what are your top tips for people considering starting their own business?
  • Be prepared to work very hard.  However the excitement, passion and belief in your product/service and importantly yourself, will help you find that extra energy!
  • Always manage your cash flow and keep on top of it; you will be surprised at how money can disappear so have a good realistic business plan AND keep to your budget where possible - a business can’t continue if it runs out of cash
  • Persuasively insist(!) on confirming any verbal negotiations, agreements, plans etc  in writing from suppliers right through to clients
  • Think “out of the box” for unique marketing programmes and network, network, network!

The furniture in your showroom is beautiful, how do you choose your stock and who is responsible for the showroom displays?
  • I am responsible for choosing pieces for the showroom and displaying them.  As any new business, we have made some early mistakes, but importantly we have taken these on board and actioned ie. a few pieces have been a little too big for the UK market!    Therefore lots and lots of research by continually watching the competition for styles/colours/pricing etc.  This has helped us greatly in moving forward.

What are your current favourite pieces?
  • Our Francesco L shape sofa, it is so comfortable, beautifully shaped and timeless.  I have fallen asleep on mine at home so many times, much to my husband’s wrath (only joking!)

What makes Muralto unique from other furniture and home accessories suppliers?
  • Simply put, we believe it is in our quality and customer service.  I know that sounds so “blah blah blah”, but I truly believe our products will continually look great and  last longer.  For example, we have had a Francesco sofa returned to our factory after twenty or so years to be reupholstered – “Swiss design for life!”  We also use the best woods with sturdy hardwood frames (hence the reason I’ve been seeing a physio -  lifting this stuff can kill you!).  We also believe the quality of  our seat and back cushions with a combination of down and dense foam helps to  retain their shape extending their life span.  As to customer service, it is crucial that every customer has a truly simple and pleasant experience – remember those places where you’ve had a bad experience, do you ever go back!?  Through mystery shopping, we have experienced some high end furniture/accessory Showrooms can at times, be uninviting and uncomfortable and ultimately a very unfriendly experience.  As a consumer, I would not go back.  It is important to treat others the way you like to be treated!
Finally, tell me more about how you have encouraged young designers...
  • In today’s tough economic environment it is so difficult for young designers to be heard and source that first all important break, but here at Muralto, we promote and look for young talent.  Charles Churchman a young designer was introduced to us earlier in the year and within a matter of weeks we had commissioned him to design a daybed under the Muralto brand.  The prototype is now available for sale and can be seen at our showroom.  Muralto have benefited from his fresh inspiration, Charles has gained a great deal of confidence and ultimately the opportunity to earn revenue!
  • We also had an award open to young designers through the British Institute of Interior Design earlier in the year. As well as this, we held an event at our showroom for all the distance learning students from the National Design Academy which has led to new friendships and support for students. We plan to hold another such event in the Spring.  Finally, we work closely with the Susan Llewellyn Academy (www.susanllewellynassociates.com ) in London working with new students and looking for opportunities for them.  For example, through Muralto a student has been asked to dress a £4mm apartment in Mayfair using Muralto’s products!

Thanks so much to Jane for her contribution to my blog this week. For more information on Muralto, visit their website - www.muralto.co.uk.