Whitworth Art Gallery Autumn 2018

Last weekend we had a fantastic visit to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester.

Two thought provoking and very different exhibitions which are both running until the Spring time and well worth a visit.

As interior designers we spend a lot of time looking at wallpaper! Bodies of Colour explores how imperial attitudes to people are reflected in the designs of the papers on display, which are largely from Western Europe. The words and images chosen to describe our cultural identities are often contentious. Here are examples ranging back from when wallpaper first began to be popular in the 18th century – which give us a starting point to think about some difficult questions surrounding racism.


Thread Bearing Witness features three amazing large scale tapestry works by textile artist Alice Kettle. The project has been undertaken in collaboration with a group of refugees who tell their story through this powerful medium. The exhibition has given these refugees a voice by using their creativity and allows us to consider the global refugee crisis whilst enjoying the beautiful exhibits.

There is also an opportunity to attend Sunday workshops throughout the year to make a sewn leaf to contribute to the exhibition, which we definitely hope to return to!

Images from the Whitworth .. more info here ..



Manchester School of Art Degree Shows 2015

This afternoon Gabbie and I had the privilege of visiting Manchester School of Art and enjoying a tour of this year’s degree shows from our lovely intern Yasmin who has just completed her degree in Interior Design.

We were massively impressed by the standard of work. Students complete one major project in the final year which involves choosing a building and completely re imagining it’s use through an indepth nine month study. The creativity of the ideas along with the attention to detail and the impressive presentation skills are really amazing.

On our visit we also checked out the Graphic Design, Textiles, Illustration and 3D Design shows all which were equally fantastic.

We are very lucky to have such a world class art school on our doorstep and we wish all the students the very best of luck as many of them go on to show in London and then embark on careers in the design industry.


House Proud at Manchester Art Gallery

This week Gabriella and Lucy, our two interns had the opportunity to visit the fantastic exhibition ‘House Proud’ at Manchester Art Gallery .. here they report back on some of the design classics they saw, and how they are still relevant to our work today.

Look out for our Summer Trends blog coming next week.

Currently exhibiting at Manchester Art Gallery, House Proud, is inspired by the Gallery’s own Industrial Art Collection, nostalgically scanning a period in the 1930s when the Gallery took the lead in acquiring and displaying home furnishings which revealed mass-produced and limited-edition pieces, focused particularly on those with a very strong, contemporary design aesthetic. The present exhibition draws upon some of the ways in which the boundaries between art and design for the home environment have developed and progressed since then, exploring a range of glass, ceramics and metalwork within furniture design.

In order to improve and enhance the design and distinction of pieces, contemporary artists were deliberately employed as fundamentally, this exhibition shows how functional objects came to be seen in a new light. The show includes items designed for industrial production by artists such as Dame Laura Knight, Eric Ravilious and John Piper. Furthermore, many of the designers included in the display were influenced by contemporary art, particularly Neo-Romanticism, Abstraction, Surrealism, Op and Pop Art. Additionally, the exhibition also includes paintings and works on paper, alongside textiles and wallpapers from the Whitworth art gallery.


Vertical – 1937
Designed by Ben Nicholson 1894 – 1982
Made by Edinburgh Weavers 1937
Tapestry woven cotton and rayon
Nicholson’s usually abstract and constructivist art has been translated into this textile design. The sculptural effect has been achieved through using the contrasting weaves and the varieties of textures formed by the combination of cotton and rayon. This strong juxtaposition has been used to a great effect, formulating a rich architectural rendition. Once again, this piece reflects upon fashionable neutral tones with splashes of bold colour, which is prominent within this Summers trend.


Aircraft – 1938
Designed by Marion Dorn 1899 – 1964
Made by Old Bleech Linen Company Limited 1938
Screen-printed linen and rayon
Marion Dorn produced designs for both mass-produced and bespoke textile furnishings and rugs, Aircraft, having been particularly successful for it was used to furnish ocean liners. Movement is cleverly evoked within Dorn’s design, portrayed through darting birds in the form of silhouettes, provoking the feeling of flight and levitation. This combination of pastel and neutral colours, is particularly relevant to this years Spring and Summer sophisticated palette, as well as the minimal pattern which has been kept simple and graphic, creating a fun approach.


Crawling Couch – 1987
Designed and made by Jon Mills b.1959
Beaten, welded and patinated steel
Mills was one of several sculptors in the 1980s that chose to up-cycle and reuse scrap materials as a statement against mass consumerism. Mill’s Couch is perhaps a prime example of this mode of rebellion for it was originally inspired by a traditional upholstered chaise-longue. He has deliberately reworked this typically luxurious style of relaxation and comfort to form a particularly surreal, uncomfortable and rather menacing piece. Mills has used rusted reclaimed steel, leaving the hammer marks and bolts visible. Together with the extreme sharp edges, spiky back and clawed feet, the feeling of unease and discomfort is generated, contrasting effectively with slick, high-tech modern design. Furthermore, the robust, industrial design of this piece is very fitting with current popular trends.


Calyx – 1951
Designed by Lucienne Day 1917 – 2010
Made by Heal’s
Screen-printed linen
Using the English tradition of basing a pattern on nature, Day has designed an innovative, stylised pattern, which appears to highlight geometric forms within the natural world. This design reflects current trends, perhaps more particularly upon the key botanical and geometric prints, providing a layering effect.


A very interesting read thank you Gabbie and Lucy 🙂

Farrow and Ball new wallpaper collection launch

Laura & Catherine had a great visit to Farrow & Ball’s Manchester showroom last Thursday for the official launch of the new wallpaper collection.


Inspired by French fashion of the past, celebrating the enduring link between fashion and interior design.

A stand out installation was the chic ‘Tourbillon’ Wallpaper featured with ‘Dead Salmon’ picture rail, ‘Off Black’ skirting & stand out copper chair. Taken from the Ducharne studio which created designs for some of the most famous couture houses in France in the 1920’s and 1960’s. The paper is composed of segmented circles which blend to give a graphic look.


We loved the featured artwork by Jessica Owen, including this piece ‘Boat Masts & Morning Mist – Abersoch’

More information here .. http://www.northernscapes.co.uk/artist/jessica-owen


Thank you F&B for the inspiring installations, cocktails, canapes & goodie bag on what was a very wet & snowy evening!

You can find out more about the new collections here


Or contact Curve for more information.

Thank you Laura for reporting back!


Gabbie’s view from the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

Early on Friday afternoon Laura and myself decided that we were going to visit the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester.

When we arrived we were greeted with the hustle and bustle of people showing enthusiasm towards different types of arts and crafts that were within the building.

As we were in the old Granada studios we first entered the old studio two which was the main exhibition area. This is where there were situated different types of sculptures, glasswork and film.

There was one particular glassmaker that interested me. There were a few different pieces that Bob Crooks had made which were very intriguing. Bob Crooks looks at the different ways in which you are able to exploit the many different properties of the materials he uses through the experimentation and technical understanding of his craft.


There were also many other interesting pieces, which were created by other talented artists such as Caroline Broadhead and Junko Mori, which had interesting ways in manipulating steel and other metals.

The other sections of the Craft fair were individual exhibitor stands that amazed me with the different details and intricate work that people were able to create with metal and other media. There was only really one stand that had furniture but there was many ways that the craft fair made up for this. There were a large amount of individual that did hand printing and surface pattern, which showed amazing up-coming talent. One individual particularly showcase this talent with the variety and detail within their work. Stephanie Lawton uses a range of different medias in which she has drawn elaborate detail and intricate patterns, which are qualities that she has tried to maintain throughout her practice. She also combines both hand drawn and digitally drawn elements to create a graphic and illustrative feel.


On another stand there was a product designer that seemed to specialise in different interior products. The collection that was on at the exhibition was called WIRED. Katie Askwith explained how she has a keen interest in ‘how things are made’ and wanted to expose the industrial construction techniques and drawing attention to the skills and materials normally gone unnoticed in their current product range.


As I have a personal love for different fabrics and embroidery. My favourite exhibition had to be Louise Gardiner. The way in which she combined the skills and artistry of embroidery with different fabric and texture was stunning. There were different pieces that were on the walls that had been also applied onto cushions and scarfs; one of the pieces that stood out to me was called ‘You blow me away.’


Within Louise Gardiner work she used the combination of exciting and intricate free machine embroidery with the passion of drawing. To create every individual piece there are many different techniques using rhythmic, repetitive drawing, intense and intricate stitches, paints, appliqué and inks. Louise explained that every piece of work is unique and labor-intensive, intuitive and spontaneous. These original and energetic embroideries celebrate the rich and colorful medium of thread and illustrate her lust for life.


There were many other artists that had beautiful exhibits that I would love to talk about but this blog would go on forever. There were definitely some very talented individuals that showcase their different skills that were incredible and would make you want to buy a lot of what they were showing. I definitely think going to the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair gave me an insight into the up-coming talent within different areas of craft, which I hope will be promoted so that their talent shown to other people. This experience has definitely given me few ideas and people to look out for within the future.


Makers: Cube Gallery Manchester

Today, Lucy and Laura went down to CUBE gallery to check out the fantastic exhibition MAKERS contemporary craft and design for interiors.

Sharyn Dunn paper sculptor

Featuring work from designer makers from all over the North the exhibition includes furniture, ceramics, lighting, textiles and decorative art and accessories. We have included a few of our favourites to show you here.

Penny Seume New York textiles

Looking forward to a trip to New York in a few weeks time, Lucy was excited to find this fabulous range of fabrics and Wallpapers inspired by the city – the designer taking inspiration from the urban landscape giving the texture, colour and atmosphere.

Gabler furniture

We loved these ‘Bethy’ wine tables by Gabler furniture, and like all the pieces we saw today they are custom made to requirements, we love the orange one!

Suzanne Hodgson

Here is Laura’s favourite piece, the table is made from the most beautiful wood in a stained grey ‘Chinchilla’ finish with slate legs, we think it is absolutely amazing!

It is really refreshing to find an exhibition such as Makers in Manchester and great to see a showcase of the North’s finest designers and makers. We saw lots of product today that we would love to include in future Curve projects and we really hope to work with some of the designers to create bespoke pieces for our clients.

We were able to meet and have a chat with curator Janine Fishwick and find out a bit more about her passion for putting MAKERS together and congratulate her on the success of the project … If you have time to get down to CUBE before the end of Saturday please go along as it is WELL worth seeing.

MAKERS is at CUBE gallery, Portland Street, Manchester until 25 May.

Find out more here http://www.contemporarymakers.com/

Curve and the Message Enterprise Centre

Curve were very excited to be approached by our friend, the wonderful architect Grace Choi to get involved in the interior design and furniture specification for her major new project for the Message Trust in Manchester.


In January 2013, the charity opened the Message Enterprise Centre, a new business and training hub for young people in the region. An existing dilapidated building was stripped back, re-used and transformed into a new social Enterprise Centre, creating an incubator for training, mentoring and helping individuals return into the working world. The Message Enterprise Centre tackles head-on two of the biggest problems our society faces: repeat offending and youth unemployment.


The Message wanted to furnish the interior to complement to the amazing design of the building, Curve were briefed to design schemes for the cafe area, offices and salon, as well as ‘the street’, the large communal area running down the centre of the space. We took inspiration from the colours used on the external elements and included some great design pieces such as the Magis Air chairs in black, orange and white. Lucy and Ben met with furniture designer James Burleigh during London Design Week and commissioned the beautiful red benches and seating to match the colourscheme.

You can find out more about the work of the Message Trust here


And check out the work of Grace Choi including more photos of the Enterprise Centre



We Face Forward | Art from West Africa

It was the last day of the ‘We Face Forward’ exhibition in Manchester on Sunday, and as we had intended to visit all Summer we eventually managed to get along to Manchester Art Gallery and check it out!

On the way up to the main exhibition we enjoyed Emeka Ogboh’s soundwork outside the front of the gallery and Aboubakar Fofana’s ‘Obsessions’ sculpture as we went up in the lift.

Other highlights included the amazing ‘In the World But Don’t Know the World?’ by El Anatsui and the 7m long textile ‘Power and Religion (Pouvoir et Religion)’ by Abdoulaye Konaté.

In the second room artists explored environmental topics which was of particular interest to our seven year old, as we watched Abdoulaye Armin Kane’s film about power cuts and explored topics ranging from pollution to climate change.

If you missed it you can find out more about ‘We Face Forward’ here


LomoWall and Atelier(Zero), Piccadilly Basin

I really enjoyed having a mooch around Piccadilly Basin this afternoon with Alex from Piccadilly Partnership, and checking out the fab things that are happening right now, right on Curve’s doorstep!

LomoWall on Tariff Street adds a burst of colour to the urban landscape with a 30m space covered in photos of Manchester submitted from around the world. The overall effect is to create a striking image which reflects the city skyline. This is the first permanent LomoWall exhibition in the UK and celebrates Lomography’s 20th birthday.

  Across the road in the canal basin, Atelier(Zero) has been created to celebrate the London Olympic Games’ Cultural Olympiad. Canal-side chalets on the tow path house relaxation and play areas and you can even take a rowing boat out on the canal. The perfect summer’s afternoon activity now it’s the school holidays!

Designed and built by 28 students in a unique collaboration between Manchester School of Architecture and the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, the project is curated by independent creative director, Jane Anderson, and directed by Karsten Huneck and Bernd Truempler of Office for Subversive Architecture and funded by the Arts Council.

The chalets are available for artists and musicians to adopt free of charge during the project. The area is also marked out with Olympic sports’ pitches including a very cool community swing ball. During the coming weeks the area will see the arrival of the Canal Festival, including loads of family friendly activities and even a ‘float in’ (or drive in) movie!!

Curve are very excited to have all this going on outside our window and you can be sure to find us down by the canal this summer.

Find out more: