Interiors Little Black Book: Sophie Elborne

Sophie Elborne has worked in the design world for more than a decade – first as creative director at Kitesgrove, before going on to establish her own studio, Atelier Elborne, last year. Half British, half French, and known for her blend of English quirk and Gallic restraint, the plan is to start making and selling ‘objets d'arts’. Here, she gives us an inside look at the names she relies on time and again…

Ceramics

I did a pottery course a couple of years ago which taught me the skills and patience required for this beautiful artform. My long-standing passion for all things white continuously draws me back to Astier de Villate. I also recently discovered UK-based Marigold and Lettice, whose pieces are just as characterful. At home, I’ve been collecting Emma Lacey’s simple ‘Everyday’ mugs and bowls from French earthenware ceramicist Matthias Biberon – aka Les Bols Blancs. The varying whites are the perfect foil for layering with earthy coloured Romanian slipware or ornate vintage French faience. 

For decorative ceramics, top of my list are Pomelo Casa, Rachael Cocker’s candle holders, Polly Fern’s wall sconces, everything from Lydia Hardwick, Mano Mani for her Grecian, twisted handled vases, Becky Nolan’s obscure shaped vessels and La Galine white, mini mushroom knife holders from Maison Flaneur.

Glassware

I enjoy seeing the ‘hand’ of the maker in a design or at least a sense of originality that sets it apart from everything else. For everyday glassware that feels special but not overly precious, Nkuku and Anthroplogie sell some good options. For something more special, Namstore Bath sells sweet, hand blown glass tumblers you can custom inscribe. Meanwhile, Host Home has a joyous collection of coloured candlesticks. I love the coloured wine glasses with wonky rims from Edition 94, too. Finally, I had the pleasure of meeting Jochen Holz years ago at an industry craft day. He’s one of very few UK glass artists to use a technique called lamp working, which he uses to make really original, organic-shaped vessels from borosilicate glass, as well as coloured stem champagne flutes sold through The New Craftsmen

Antiques 

When I was little, I used to follow my parents around French brocantes, ‘vide-greniers’ and antiques fairs – so it stands to reason that I would develop a magpie’s passion for collecting things. There’s no substitute for sourcing truly unique vintage and antique pieces in person, which is what propels me out of bed to be the first at the gates of Kempton Market and Ardingly. I’ve been visiting the Battersea Decorative Fair since I was a teenager, too. I feel pretty lucky to be able to take my clients now – it’s an invaluable opportunity to see so many dealers from outside of London, whether that’s Kent’s Nikki Page or Madrid’s Berenis, all under a single roof. Other favourites from Lillie Road include Maison Artefact, Puckhaber and M Charpentier. Alfie's is another London antiques mecca, as is the cluster of Church Street antiques including Nick Jones and Sans Pretention. There’s no end of Instagram rabbit holes with plenty of vintage ‘shops’ sharing their treasures via the platform. I always look forward to seeing what Thea Speke sources. I also enjoy Bohome, Punch the Clock and Joseph Berry.

Crafts

Introducing my clients to artisans who can commission something bespoke is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I did a weaving workshop with Rachna Garodia earlier this year and I’m hoping the right project will come up so I can commission one of her tapestries. Jo Elbourne uses cotton cord to re-purpose found furniture frames, reinventing them into original works of art. As well as working directly with the artists, I also feel a responsibility to support artisanal craft from developing communities. I source plenty from the likes of  Zanat, Hadeda , Mmaa Social and, more recently, Aaaacoop and Atelier Sukha.

Mirrors

Most of the antiques sources above are my go-tos to find a unique mirror, something steeped in history that you simply can’t achieve with reproduction items. I can’t resist a Dutch, ebonised ripple frame mirror: Foster & Gane have one of the best. For something more contemporary, Aft Studio specialise in hand-cut marquetry and have an interesting arched design. The Trove rope tassel mirror would dress a narrow wall beautifully and B&S Glass make custom convex and concave mirrors that would look really cool at the end of a hallway.

Lighting

I always encourage clients to prioritise their lighting budgets so whether it’s hanging, fixed or sitting on a table, the fixtures act as sculpture or feature, and compliment everything else I could go on and on about all the iconic mid-century designs where Pamono excels, or the wonderful Jamb globe lanterns, but the list would be too long. Some all-time favourites include India Mahdavi’s Don Giovanni lamp, which comes in a spectrum of colours. Muller Van Severin designs are simple but striking. Schmid McDonagh on Church Street has a great eye and designs exquisite lampshades. I also love what Cara Cara Collective in Helsinki is doing, turning biowaste into product design, including orange peel and pine needle pendant lights. Lazuli Design sells lampshades made from bark cloth in Mali and Nushka sells lampshades made from Indian vintage silk saris. 

Decorative items

I have an obsession for micro-sized and juxtaposing objects with unexpected scales, and I love Tilly Slight, who makes miniature ceramic pottery. I have three of her pots sitting on my window sill. Molly and Maud’s Place is a treasure trove. I had my eye on a triptych of early 20th century Egyptian embroidered panels for at least a year before finally deciding to buy one. 8 Holland Street and Willer are always worth a visit for beautiful, special finds, too.

Furniture

Lately, I’ve bought some really special pieces from Au Bespoke, Pinch and Sebastian Cox, each of whom have an inspiring aesthetic driven by organic materials and understated designs. I really admire the traditional manufacturing processes Howe London and Soane Britain champion in their work. For me, furniture tends to be the last addition to a room, they’re support acts to the main event – like this nest of vintage wrought iron martini side tables from Dorian Caffot de Fawes or a handsome floor lamp with an integrated magazine rack (check Vinterior). 

 

Rugs and Textiles

I’ve been sourcing a lot of rugs lately. I keep coming back to Rush Matters, the heavy braided jute designs from Sinclar Till and textured designs of Coral and Hive. Among other things, Francesca Gentilli sells pretty, vintage Turkish Cicim Kilims, as well as offering bespoke designs. Oyyo is a brilliant fusion of Swedish design and conscious Indian craftsmanship. I’ve also had a few successes with buying rugs on Etsy. I regularly visit The Cloth Shop and nearby Warris Vianni so I can choose the cloth I'm buying in person, too. Meggy and Me piqued my interest a few weeks ago with their heavy weight mud cloth cushion collection, and I also love Aeand for their graphic, paper-cut printed textiles. 

Art

A good place to start when it comes to collecting art is to get professional help. Lizzie Dixey from The Art Register continuously introduces me to artists that I end up falling in love with. Earlier this month, I accompanied her on a sourcing trip to see the Tomo Campbell show at Cob Gallery. The ‘artist’s support pledge’ via Instagram has been a powerful force for driving creativity during this challenging year, too. I’ve discovered several new names through it: Elizabeth Griffiths, Daniel Shadbolt and Nick Maroussas. When I can, I will always visit the annual art college degree exhibitions to discover emerging talent. I’ve enjoyed following the work of Diana Taylor over the years, ever since I saw her MFA final show at The Slade in 2010. For online sourcing, everywhere from The Photographer’s Gallery and V&A Prints to The Medium Room, Barn Star Fine Art and The Shopfloor Project have great options.

Shopping Abroad

My parents live in Paris, so a trip never fails to include a visit to the Marché aux Puces de St Ouen and any local antiques markets. St Sulpice is a firm favourite, as it’s on our doorstep, and where I discovered Alicia de Rolland. I also like to pop into Sarah Lavoine for more modern design inspiration. I got married near Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence, where I developed my passion for French antiques. By contrast, Munich’s Schlict Design always offers a mass of mid-20th century options and Modernity in Stockholm is a must-visit.

 

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