Habitat x MO
April 20, 2020
September 18, 2018
My Arteriors story starts when the brand first opened its showroom in London’s Chelsea Harbour Design Centre in September 2017. Visiting in my capacity as a magazine editor, I was swiftly cornered by an enthusiastic PR keen to know my thoughts. Never one to hold back my forthright opinions, I said that I found the showroom a little too full, bright and busily styled for my tastes. Cue crest fallen expression.
However, a few months later I was invited to walk my talk and be the first UK participant in the brands’ highly successful ‘Designer Interpretations’ series. A handing over of the showroom styling reins to an external creative with the aim of “opening up the brand to a different point of view” in the words of Arteriors’ Head of Marketing and Visual, Krista Stelling. A brave and confident challenge that I was absolutely honoured to accept. Herewith the results of that collaboration…
Founded in 1987 by Mark Moussa, Arteriors, headquartered in Dallas, started out as a small accessories company. Gradually Mark, who previously worked alongside his father in the family import business, added a few lights, then a couple of pieces of accent furniture. Fast forward to today and it’s a huge global enterprise releasing more than 500 new designs every year.
Mark describes his strategy as thinking like a fashion brand because as he introduces new pieces he also retires others enabling the stock to constantly evolve. As for his inspirations? “I look to create products with a visual push and pull by combining finishes, forms and fabrics in a way that is provocative and compelling yet still allows for personal interpretation. I love the yin and yang of artisan and luxe and embrace the notion that many of our pieces are art pieces, so to speak.”
And this is precisely what drew me to working with the brand. The mix of the raw and the refined combined with the clear influence of art, fashion and travel with a healthy dose of artisanal luxe. As Mark puts it, “The human element in Arteriors’ products is something I value. It’s the signature that the artist puts on each of the products they produce. That human touch and artisanal element is what makes each piece special and one-of-a-kind.” It was a marvellous palette to play with, and a great team to collaborate with. I heartily, and authentically, endorse its wares!
PS It also has a practice in the US (not common in the UK) of selling key upholstery items with a simple muslin covering so you can send them to be dressed in any fabric of your choosing by your own upholsterer (see example here). Genius. Here in the UK you follow the usual COM (‘Customer’s Own Material’) protocol but they’ll do it for you in 6-8 weeks with the prices shown including the upholstering costs! Good to know, non.
I felt that many of the pieces were incredibly sculptural. Also very rich in form and texture, which made me think of Brancusi, especially his Parisian studio, which is still open to the public. There you see many of his works stacked one on top of the other.
Arteriors’ designs are also made from an extremely refined palette of materials — marble, wood, antiqued bronze, brass, polished nickel and iron. This made me think of the French architect/interior designer Joseph Dirand, whose work I really admire.
I then combined these two references in my head. Threw in my love of off-beat symmetry and a preference for multiples; it’s a Feng Shui thing, I believe pairs of pieces make for a happier space!. And then overlaid it all with plenty of rich pattern and texture.
Essentially, I worked up from the floor and furniture to create a solid base for the look. I centred my concept around the generous curves of the ‘Turner’ sofa which I re-upholstered in a sumptuous ‘Adamo & Eva’ 100% cotton velvet from Dedar. I then took a lead from the fabulous ‘Jericho’ reclining chairs (which definitely have ‘Future Classic’ written all over them!). These are finished in teak with hand-woven jute seats and really epitomise my predicted move towards more humble materials being handled exquisitely in the home.
I see this sort of project as the dressing a space in a series of layers. The final touch? I added jewellery to the look in the form of some of the amazing lighting and accessories which Arteriors really excels at.
The colours, mix of materials and touch-tastic textures are all very me. Plus, I absolutely love to add a little unexpected top note to any scheme. In this case a dash of Chinoiserie via the amazing ‘Lodi Garden’ print from Brunschwig & Fils which I had made up into a pencil pleated curtain to drape across the back wall.
And then the mix of fabrics I chose for the cushions was all about adding contrast and spice. ‘Say Goodbye Flora’ from Dedar; ‘Xian’ from Brunschwig & Fils; ‘Acid Palm’ and ‘Polka Dot Plush‘ in a wonderful mustard colour, both from Kravet. These soften the space, and mixing them all together created something really warm and inviting.
I work in a way that I consider to be inspirational yet achievable for any consumer, just as I did when I was editing ELLE Decoration. I’ve deliberately picked pieces that I felt could be ‘Future Classics’ — timeless furniture and lighting you could live with for a lifetime.
And then I’ve accessorized them very simply with texture underfoot in the form of the fabulous ‘Volos’ carpet from Tufenkian Carpets. Underpinned with sisal matting from Tim Page Carpets. Wrapped it all in colour. Then I lay a nice big dollop of pattern on top of it all via a clutch of deliberately differently-sized cushions.
It’sset up to create the sense of a liveable space that could easily be translated into a home. It has a central focal point, framed by lighting and faced by two additional ‘moments’. These are designed to create a sense of dialogue and flow across the room, physically linked by the rugs underfoot.
In short, I wanted to create a space within the showroom that customers could really relate to, come in, sit down in, and start to imagineer new interiors ideas for themselves. I think this is what needs to be at the heart of retail today. A sense of escapism made easy. Showing people what’s possible through design. But you need to hold people by the hand. It’s a fatal assumption to think everyone sees the world the way you do, and can automatically pair chairs and cushions, pots and platters. They can’t. But show them the way and I believe they will buy.
Although I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned all my non Arteriors partners-in-design above in the copy and captions, I thought it would be handy to group them all together here, nice and clearly. And to note that they’re all available via their showrooms at the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, a veritable one-stop department store for design!
‘Say Goodbye Flora’ from Dedar (On the Ground Floor in the East wing of the Harbour)
‘Adamo & Eva’ in colour 150: Cedro, a 100% cotton velvet used to upholster the sofa, also from Dedar
‘Polka Dot Plush‘ in quince, a fabulous mustardy colour, from Kravet (Ground floor alongside GB&J Baker in the East wing of the Harbour)
‘Acid Palm’ in surf, designed by Jonathan Adler for Kravet (as above)
‘Lodi Garden’ in grey (100% cotton), and ‘Xian’ a linen and cotton print in Seafoam/Sand, both wonderfully narrative Chinoiserie-inspired print by Brunschwig & Fils (Also Ground floor shown alongside GB&J Baker in the East wing of the Harbour)
‘Volos rug from Tufenkian in its Winter Lake colourway. (Third Floor in the Centre Dome of the Harbour)
‘TPC Sisal’ 100% sisal matting, in colour 5, from Tim Page Carpets (Ground floor in the Centre Dome of the Harbour)
‘Marine Blue’ a deep teal blue from The Little Greene Paint Company
‘Light Peach Blossom’ a warm peachy pink from The Little Greene Paint Company
Cushions and curtains expertly made by Adrian Robins Design
PS Thank you for reading this, and if you’d like to know when I next post something, you can subscribe here.
Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.