A New Leaf

There is a real botanical trend running through interiors at the moment. It shouldn’t be a surprise, “bringing the outside inside” has long been an architectural motif in contemporary builds and most of us find the outdoors – earth, plants, water, sky – soothing and nourishing. It’s one of the reasons we so love the calming atmosphere of Victorian Palm Houses.

So how do you incorporate something of this botanical environment into your own home without building an extension or moving into the Royal Botanic Gardens?  Well, nowhere was this theme more apparent than at this Spring’s Maison & Objet / Deco Off design exhibitions in Paris. From wallpapers to fabrics, lampshades to ceramics it was easy to get happily lost in the jungle. Lush blues and greens abounded, with exotic plant life often intertwined with richly painted or embroidered birds and butterflies. Of course, real flower displays are fabulous, but for those “blessed” with black fingers like me, here are a few of my exhibition highlights that can easily be used in your own home.

Wallpapers are a classic way, with a long pedigree, to introduce a sometimes theatrically botanical note into a room. The wonderful De Gournay made full use of their new Rousseau design in their Paris showroom. Like most of their wallcoverings it is more art than wallpaper, and made a magical backdrop to a champagne breakfast amongst parrots, armadillos and banana trees.  We also loved French fabric house Nobilis’ new botanical wallpapers from their Cosmopolitan 1 and 2 collections. They decked out their showroom windows with a birds of paradise wallpaper – birds resplendent against a dark blue background – and accessorised with jewel coloured cushions trimmed with feathers. Or if you want a truly tropical feel introduce the rain forest into your bathroom by surrounding yourself with Timorous BeastiesMeridian Palm.   

Alternatively there are many ways to simply accessorise a room in a botanical style. We discovered gold palm tree floor lamps, pineapple wall lights, ceramic pineapple dishes and vases, butterfly displays, coral and agate slices. Many had more than a nod to Art Deco and they can be a great way to add an element of fun into a more classic interior. We even sourced the most stunningly realistic silk flowers for those who want to stick to floral displays – but without the watering!

Whether you want to go wild in the country or just tiptoe through the tulips there is an abundance of choice.

First published in: Premier Living Spring/Summer

We are Recruiting…

We are currently looking for a highly organised and self-motivated Designer.

Ampersand is a very busy interiors company with a design studio, showroom and a first class team of designers and interior architects. We are looking for an experienced interior designer to work on a large variety of exciting projects, large and small, residential and commercial.       

Applicants must be able to clearly demonstrate:

  • a detailed knowledge of all aspects of high end interiors;
  • a genuine talent for design;
  • expertise in Vectorworks to produce quality CAD combined with an eye for detail and matching presentation skills;
  • a proven aptitude for all aspects of project administration such as estimating, ordering, and scheduling;
  • excellent communication skills – both written and verbal.

If you possess these skills, you are highly professional and presentable as well as being adept with the usual office computer programs, then send us your cv along with a covering letter explaining why you are the ideal person to fill this position. (Applications without a covering letter will not be considered).

This is a full time role.

Send your application to Callum Fisken

Homes & Interiors Scotland

We are delighted to see the spread on one of our projects in the latest edition of Homes & Interiors Scotland. It was a wonderful project to work on with lovely clients and it is always good to have the opportunity to illustrate the thinking and expertise that goes into a successful design.

We were engaged to design and supply comprehensive decorative schemes, soft furnishings and furniture as well as specialist advice on flooring, hardware and architectural detailing such as ironmongery, panelling details, and fireplaces. Carley and Susanne worked wonders to create a calm, modern, pared back and sophisticated space, while also retaining the relaxing atmosphere of a family home.

Both designers articulate perfectly the range of our skills and the importance we attach in getting to know the clients across interior design and architecture. The aim being to build a relationship that allows us to design specifically for our client, but also to push just beyond the comfort zone with the end result being a unique design that is also fresh and interesting. 

Getting the Best from an Interior Designer

With over 25 years of experience in interior design Jackie and her team have worked on an enormous number of projects. Each project is different and every client comes with their own personality, lifestyle and priorities.

However, whether you are working with a new interior designer,  or you have never used an interior designer before, or you are simply starting a new project, there are key pieces of advice that Jackie has accumulated over the years on how to get the best from the professional expertise you have chosen to engage. Here she has distilled these insights into a brief guide.

  1. Start by thinking how you want your home to feel and work when everything is complete and this should guide all your decisions. This is also why you should engage your designer as early in the process as possible so that they can work with you to achieve this. There can be multiple parties working on your project including architects, contractors as well as multiple trades and it is easy to assume that everyone has a shared agenda which isn’t always the case.  Having a clear idea of the end design prevents expensive mistakes from being made in construction and selections being made in a piecemeal way where things won’t flow beautifully or relate meaningfully.
  2. The relationship between designer and client is hugely personal. Make sure you engage someone that you can relate to and who listens – and having done so trust them and trust the process.  While a good designer will design specifically for you, they should not simply facilitate what you already think you want. If you trust your designer to push you just beyond your comfort zone the end result will be truly unique to you but also fresh and interesting.
  3. Following on from this, keep an open mind. If you are hiring a professional to help with your interiors then allow them bring ideas that you may not otherwise have thought of. You can always say no to something you really don’t want, but you will not know what you may be missing if you set out too many parameters to work within.
  4. It is obviously best if everyone starts a project on the same page. I always recommend a client spend some time going through interiors books and magazines selecting images that appeal. Don’t be overly specific – don’t work out why you like the room or restrict yourself to preconceived colour palettes or styles – a good designer will be able to identify a common thread running through your choices and use this to design a beautiful scheme that reflects your lifestyle and your personality.
  5. Remember that designing a home isn’t just about creating pretty rooms that look great in photos. It is about function, comfort, character and personality as well. A successful design will be made up of thousands of details, the result of hundreds of decisions – a good designer will combine these efficiently but with a dash of inspirational alchemy too!
  6. As with any major project, it is worth undertaking a bit of research to understand your budget! Have an initial idea of the size, scope, and budget you will be comfortable with and be open about this with your designer. There are a huge number of variables in interior design which can come together in multiple ways, resulting in large variations in cost. Being open about budgets will allow your designer to design specifically for you and your project without spending valuable time heading up blind alleys.

And remember to enjoy the process! This should be an inspiring and creative experience with a beautiful home at the end of it.

Decorex International & Focus

September saw us scouring the annual launches for the best fabrics and products at Decorex at Syon Park & Focus at Chelsea Design Centre in London. While we are convinced of our “design alchemy” (what we ourselves create alongside our ingenuity in adapting and using the beautiful materials we source), we do love hunting down the pieces that keep our designs fresh, vibrant and – vitally –  individual.

Here are some of our favourites – we hope you like them as much as we do!

Here are Carley and Susanne exercising their artistic talents – and with Anna looking for a bit of rest on the beautiful de Gournay stand after a long day!


Our “Best Collection” went to GP&J Baker’s Royal Gardens and Mulberry’s Festival. Baker’s collaboration with Historic Royal Palaces, including The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace, has provided a wealth of inspiration for this collection.  Elements of their architecture, gardens and interiors create the dazzling designs in ‘Royal Gardens’, ‘Royal Weaves’ and ‘King’s Velvet’. Mulberry’s Festival  inspires fabulous interiors. The designs can make the perfect statement or work in harmony with the other stunning fabrics in the collection as well as many other collections.


Patterned rugs and carpets are big news with some terrific designs from Alternative Flooring such as Qurky B Felix Raison Classic axminster carpet designed in conjunction with Liberty Prints (and beautifully modelled by ourselves!), and Tim Page Carpets whose extensive stock collection and one off custom designs provide an exciting range including some of these wonderfully colourful options that we saw. While Stark Carpets large scale designs (bottom right) were stunning.


There was also a distinct animal theme to many of the collections this year. From Thibaut’s zebra and leopard-inspired fabrics and Clarke & Clark’s Monkey Business wallpaper, to Vaughan’s elegant faux shagreen Capri table and the fantastically quirky Textile Taxidermy of Carola van Dyke.


In the showrooms away from the exhibition Ochre and William Yeoward continue to produce fabulously designed furniture. Ochre’s elegantly curved sofa was perfectly lit by their equally elegant Arctic Pear chandelier. Meanwhile William Yeoward’s almost signature chair designs looked as uplifting as ever in their vibrant yet classic upholstery. His new range of retro-inspired chests was a clear favourite with us.


If you are want to find out about anything we have featured, or even if it has triggered an interest in any element of interiors, just get in touch.



Trending with Susanne – Making a Splash

In my Interior Architecture role I spend a good deal of time on bathroom design.

One of the things I am frequently amazed at is just how sterile and impersonal many bathrooms are. Even with the involvement of architects and bathroom designers the “look” is often one of generic blandness at best and a rather cell-like bleakness at worst! Each room in your home should be a meaningful space in its own right. Obviously the practicalities should always be expertly attended to and this is particularly vital in rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens – but all too often that appears to be the end of the brief rather than just the beginning of the design.

There are many ways to inject some character into a bathroom whatever the look you are after. One of the most important is lighting which, for some reason, is often little more than an after-thought. However, even in an existing bathroom you can introduce colour, warmth, and atmosphere through the decoration which should receive just as much attention as any other room.

A favourite technique is the use of artwork in bathrooms whether through bespoke wallpaper or specialist decoration. Here are three very different examples.

A blossom wallpaper set behind a free standing bath produces an almost ethereally gilded effect which is just beautiful. With sympathetic lighting even this relatively cool and simple bathroom would be transformed into an enchanted clearing for an indulgent soak.

Bathroom Trending 1

Commercial washrooms can provide the chance to make a big bold statement. Here a giant pelican certainly takes no prisoners! But a similar effect can be made in your own bathroom – do not be afraid of scale and certainly do not be afraid to be different.

Bathroom Trending 2

A more subtle effect may appeal in which case take a look at the graceful elegance of this plaster relief on a curved wall above a sunken bath. Far more understated but just as lavish in its own way – you can quite imagine bathing in milk to preserve your youth!

Bathroom Trending 3

Whatever is right for you, remember that bathroom design does not end at the choice of brassware. Look to create a space that you will positively enjoy being in.

French Style

There is no doubt that the French love a bit of grandeur. In Paris the imposing architecture of the Louvre and Versailles and Haussmann’s splendid boulevards encapsulated by the Rue de Rivoli ooze majesty. But the French also have the confidence to be irreverent: they may adore the regal but they are not averse to the guillotine!

It is in this spirit – while thoroughly enjoying any consequential controversy – that they will happily plonk I. M. Pei’s glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre, and Jean-Michel Othoniel’s bejewelled glass and steel crown at the Palais Royal metro entrance amidst the stately surroundings.

Of course there is a time and a place for the “shabby chic” of the rural France of our imaginations – lime washed furniture and bleached linens can certainly conjure up memories of les grandes vacances. But it is in this confidence to embrace the creative tension between the grand and the provocative that French style really takes off.

And there is a real sense that creativity and design truly matters. In Paris for the recent Maison et Objet exhibition I was struck by just how beautifully presented and laid out almost every shop or showroom was.  If good design is the ordinary thing done extraordinarily well then it is evident in spades. Whether it is a shop selling nothing but white China (quite literally) or a humble grocer, the displays were every bit as important as the product itself.

You can easily inject some of this revolutionary spirit into your own home. You should certainly have good foundations to your scheme – a well thought-out layout, luxurious furnishings, excellent lighting – but it is the shocking pop of colour from, say, some beautiful cushions that will set the scheme off. It is giving pride of place to your slightly eccentric but much-loved heirloom or collection that will provide the iconoclasm that gives a room personality.

You shouldn’t have a room that is so relentlessly tasteful that it is instantly forgettable. Remember the guillotine in your scheme!

The Palais Royal metro entrance

The Palais Royal metro entrance

Maison & Objet

Maison & Objet in Paris is always a wonderfully uplifting way to start the year. It was particularly inspiring to be there in January and to see that traditional Parisian style, irreverence and panache have not been cowed by the tragic events of 2015.

The showrooms of St Germain were as creative as ever with flamboyant displays spilling out into boulevards lit with giant, colourful lampshades. Over-size textile flowers jostled with fabric-clad forests and tribal tents projected into the streets. The colours, textures and sheer imagination on show was a joy.


As usual the showrooms taking part in Deco Off were profiling the current industry trends with each company choosing to interpret them in their own idiosyncratic way. Last year’s Nomade launch from Pierre Frey has clearly kick-started a wave of “ethnic” (in the broadest sense) collections. We particularly liked the Gaston y Daniela (especially their Roma book) and Kravet launches. There was an expansive  range of both large and small-scale geometric designs in blacks and whites which were most striking and eminently usable to bring structure and interest to a more pared back scheme. Both Manuel Canovas and Jim Thompson also included geometrics but infused with a more colourful palette.


Maison itself was almost overwhelming in terms of its impact. The stands were glorious in their invention and sheer scale, and showcased distinct trends in 50s-inspired furniture, retro lamps, gilt wire lighting and lots and lots of fur.


We made lots of lovely new contacts and sourced beautiful pieces including Ottoman cushions, fabulous Portuguese throws and stunning French ceramics. It is all due imminently to ensure the Ampersand showroom is a gorgeous as ever!


The Art of the Bespoke

We are delighted to be hosting an evening of design inspiration alongside de Gournay, the leading specialists in exquisite hand painted wallpaper on Thursday 25th February.

Dominic Evans-Freke, Director of de Gournay, will be providing an expert insight into this world-renowned company and its history, with a focus on their exquisite hand-painted wallpapers.

Since 1986 de Gournay have revived and continued techniques that began in the 18th century by employing a highly skilled team of artists to paint traditional Chinoiserie, Japanese, Korean and 19th century French Papiers Peints Panoramiques wallpapers.Their ability to customise their designs, however complicated the brief, truly sets de Gournay apart.

With showrooms in London, Paris, New York, Shanghai, Beijing and Moscow founder Claud Cecil Gurney’s aim of “bringing happiness into people’s lives by creating for them light, bright, vibrant and happy interiors” certainly has a global reach.

Jackie Fisken will be discussing how to combine creativity and individuality to produce truly personal interior design – whether for furnishings or bespoke cabinetry.

As Ampersand’s co-owner and Design Director Jackie is an enthusiastic advocate of eclectic design with real character. Whether imaginatively re-configuring space, making up beautiful furnishings or installing a hand-crafted study, she is a great believer that interiors should be designed for their owners not for the designer – and certainly not simply to conform to the vagaries of fashion! Interiors with soul in other words.

Join us for a glass of prosecco from 6.30pm with canapés kindly provided by Victor & Carina Contini.

Spaces are strictly limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis so please book early!

RSVP to enquiries@ampersandinteriors.co.uk or telephone 0131 557 6634


de Gournay: Company Profile

de Gournay specialises in creating exquisite hand painted wallpaper, fabrics, porcelain and hand carved furniture.

Since 1986 de Gournay has revived ancient traditions, continuing techniques that began in the 18th century by employing a team of highly skilled artists to paint traditional Chinoiserie, Japanese and Korean and 19th century French Papiers Peints Panoramiques wallpapers. To complement the wallpapers, de Gournay’s artists also hand paint silk fabrics for upholstery and soft furnishings.

Claud Cecil Gurney decided to found the company following an unsuccessful search for expert artisans to restore the antique wallpaper in his family home, which highlighted that the traditional art of hand painting wallpaper was nearly completely abandoned.

The company is renowned for its original collection of striking 18th century Chinoiserie designs that bring spaces to life with colourful flora and fauna. Responding to demands for more contemporary wallpapers de Gournay later introduced its dramatic Japanese & Korean and Eclectic collections featuring stunning hand-gilded gold and silver paper-backed silk backgrounds. de Gournay also has a very popular collection of 19th century French scenic designs depicting a variety of vistas from a pastoral hunting scene in Chasse to an exotic Brazilian river-scene bursting with wildlife.

de Gournay sets itself apart through its ability to customise any of its designs in line with a client’s wishes. However complicated the brief, de Gournay has the knowledge and expertise to fulfil each individual’s vision: from hand-gilding a design with 22ct gold leaf, to creating a custom colour to compliment a surrounding interior.

The painstaking attention to detail coupled with highly skilled artisanship that is at the core of everything de Gournay designs and produces, has resulted in many high end collaborations. Fashion designers such as Matthew Williamson and Jenny Packham, esteemed brands Chanel and Smythson, and commercial projects with high end retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman and The Ritz, are among de Gournay’s recent partnerships.

Founder of de Gournay, Claud Cecil Gurney, comments:

“Our aim is to bring happiness into people’s lives by creating for them light, bright, vibrant and happy interiors where they can find refuge from the busy world of markets and events. Each of our interiors is a work of art hand-painted to meet the needs of discerning clients.”

Director of design and production at de Gournay, Dominic Evans Freke, comments:

“One of our great strengths is our spectacular range of striking and timeless designs we offer across a wide collection of products. I take great pride in the way in which we achieved this by sticking to our philosophy of understanding historic designs & their manufacture which guides us towards sensitive redesigns and updates of them for our modern consumers.”

de Gournay’s product offering also includes an expansive 18th century Chinese Export porcelain collection which is produced using traditional techniques that have resisted the forces of standardisation and modernisation that have affected European production and which date back hundreds of years. Each piece is entirely hand-carved, hand-glazed and hand-painted. The collection encompasses a number of different items varying from customised and intricately designed armorial dinner services to a pair of lifesize porcelain hounds, modelled on figurines from 1765.

In recent years de Gournay has continued to expand into hand-carved and hand-finished furniture and mirrors. Each piece of furniture is made using traditional wood and can be hand-finished in a number of ways to totally transform their mood and meet the demands of the most discerning client. As every item is created by hand, de Gournay’s furniture pieces can be customised to fit spaces and suit the necessities of the modern day.

De Gournay is now a global brand which has expanded into 39 countries, with showrooms in London, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Beijing and Moscow and representatives worldwide.

Profile of Hannah Cecil Gurney: Director of de Gournay

Hannah Cecil Gurney took an unconventional path to overseeing the development of her family’s hand painted wallpaper business. Her father Claud founded the company in 1986, as a result of being unable to find someone to restore an antique Chinoiserie paper in his family home. Starting the business was a natural progression for him having always harvested a very keen interest in the arts with a particular passion for Chinese history.

His daughter, Hannah graduated from Bristol University with a first class degree in Physics, before following her father’s advice, and his own early career path, and training as a chartered accountant at PriceWaterhouseCooper in London. After four years Hannah left to join her family business and continue its global expansion. Since 2012, she has overseen the opening of new showrooms in Paris, New York, Beijing and Shanghai. Her inimitable enthusiasm and drive, combined with a lifelong passion for her family business, is ensuring the company continues to grow and flourish.

Her involvement has propelled de Gournay into high profile collaborations with brands ranging from Chanel and Christian Dior, who have used the designs for advertising campaigns and windows at their flagship showrooms, to renowned fashion designers such as Jenny Packham and Misha Nonoo, who have used the hand painted silks to create haute couture. She has brought the brand into a more contemporary foray; with her direction de Gournay has continued to push the boundaries and has recently revealed innovative new techniques and contemporary colourways for reinterpreting classical 18th century chinoiserie and 19th century scenic designs with a modern twist, thus making them adaptable to contemporary interiors and widening the audience for de Gournay wallpapers.

Hannah Cecil Gurney comments: “My father could have made widgets, but he didn’t, he made exquisite hand painted wallpapers. How could I not have joined the family business? I wake up every day excited about my work. I am so lucky to get to work alongside my family, in particular my father who inspires me every day with his intelligence and never-ending energy.”

Hannah’s home is in London, where she lives with her husband of one year Edward Harden and her two dogs, Jiminy Cricket and Olaf. Hannah’s day to day is mostly spent in Europe, America or Asia overseeing each showroom, however when she is in the UK for a weekend she recuperates at her father’s home in Kent riding horses, one of her true passions, or walking her dogs in the Welsh mountains on her husband’s estate.