• Never Too Many British Standard Cooks at Bourne & Hollingsworth!

    British Standard at Bourne & Hollingsworth



    1 Michelin star head chef

    13 Hungry journalists-cum-budding chefs

    13 Cooking stations

    4 Hot ovens

    An abundance of glorious food


    Mix together in one deliciously designed and decorated British Standard kitchen and serve!British Standard at Bourne & Hollingsworth

    Hands busily chopped, eyes positively bulged and mouths definitely salivated on Tuesday evening as we hosted some of London’s most ravenous interiors journalists at Bourne & Hollingsworth’s new cookery school in Clerkenwell.British Standard at Bourne & Hollingsworth

    With cocktail aperitifs for everyone upon their arrival, an evening of cookery tuition by Michelin star chef, Adam Gray, was then in store for the lucky 13.

    British Standard at Bourne & Hollingsworth


    On the menu

    A healthy pasta-free lasagne, using layers of vegetables and sweet potato, all topped with yoghurt

    Adam’s top secret fat-busting soup

    A gluten and carb-free pizza, made with a cauliflower base

    British Standard at Bourne & Hollingsworth


    After a few thrills and the odd spill (!), there was only one thing left to do! Hang up their aprons...British Standard at Bourne & Hollingsworth their weary legs…British Standard at Bourne & Hollingsworth

    ...and feast upon the results of their best efforts!British Standard at Bourne & Hollingsworth

    "Voila!"British Standard at Bourne & Hollingsworth

  • "Bowled" over by Royal Doulton and Charlene Mullen's New Ceramics Collection

    British Standard played host yesterday to iconic English ceramics company, Royal Doulton, and local homewares designer, Charlene Mullen as our Hoxton showroom was magically transformed into a set for a campaign photo shoot, marking the latest collaboration between the two creatives.

    With Royal Doulton's heritage deeply rooted in Lambeth, and Charlene's shop only a hop, skip and a jump away from us in Calvert Avenue, the day was set to be a very local affair...

    And the best bit of all? We were lucky enough to get the first glimpse of the new designs!

    Having already worked together on previous monochromatic collections, most recently the limited edition collection to celebrate Royal Doulton's 200th birthday, 'The Geometric Collection' which launches next February is definitely eye catching; if the bold patterns don't "bowl" you over, the vibrant colours certainly will!

    As photographer Brent Derby and the creative team began building each shot, it became the most wonderful kind of chaos, with every surface covered and every cupboard filled to the brim with ceramics...

    We even all got to enjoy an afternoon tea break amidst the hustle and bustle, sipping English Breakfast out of our very own geometric mugs!

  • From Katie: My Local ‘Treasure Troves’

    I’m often quizzed about where I source my reclaimed or antique treasures from, either for my own projects or for clients. Having lived in Suffolk for over 20 years now, I’ve discovered a few special places that I’m usually found lurking around!

    Dix Sept Antiques- Framlingham

    Dix Sept Antiques

    Sophie and Michel are neighbours of mine in the market town of Framlingham. They both have a well-trained eye for sourcing lovely antiques, especially 20th century furniture, and will often help me find particular pieces I need.

    In Da Cottage – Framlingham

    In Da Cottage

    Interior designer, Rob Wyn Yates and antiques dealer, Richard Atkinson, co-own In Da Cottage, a treasure trove of vintage finds, housed in the former timber-framed Framlingham fire station. I once bought a stool from them that inspired me when designing one for British Standard’s parent company, Plain English.

    Mongers – Hingham, Norfolk

    Mongers – Hingham, Norfolk

    I was actually told about Mongers several years ago by a client of mine. Sam Coster sells everything from reclaimed flooring, sanitary ware and ironmongery, to pieces of timber and stone. Over the years, I’ve sourced quite a few sinks and taps from there, either for my personal projects or for showroom schemes.

    Tower Reclaim – Stowmarket

    James Webster and his wife travel around Suffolk, visiting dismantled buildings and collecting unwanted gems. James is particularly passionate about antique building materials and always has a wonderful collection of things at his reclamation yard, ready and waiting to be snapped up!

  • Perch on your sofas, C4's 'Restoration Man' swoops in to visit British Standard project, 'HMS Owl'

    This evening, all at British Standard will be eagerly awaiting the airing of Restoration Man on Channel 4 at 8pm! The first of a two-part programme follows the dedicated and sympathetic restoration of HMS Owl, a dilapidated World War II control tower at Fearn airfield, built on the shores of Moray Firth in Scotland…and in a very welcome and exciting turn of events, the owners looked to British Standard for their kitchen, utility and cloakroom!   fearn A newspaper clipping documenting the sale of HMS Owl (image source) Justin Hooper and his wife, Charlotte Seddon, purchased the tower in 2012: “We bought it because we both loved the concrete brutalism of its exterior and the huge blank canvas that the interior offered”. As one of five similar control towers in the country, HMS Owl is the second to be bought for renovation. 501586_96bf52da HMS Owl before the restoration work began (image source) Fearn airfield, originally built as a satellite to RAF Tain, was subsequently occupied by the Royal Navy from 1st August 1942, renamed HMS Owl, and used as a Torpedo training school. The airfield houses two control towers, the initial single storey RAF structure, and the latter four storey RN building which is Justin and Charlotte’s labour of love. hmsowl Justin and Charlotte painstakingly transformed the building’s exterior (image source) The first of the two episodes will document the substantial structural renovation that has taken place over the last two years, with a follow-up programme scheduled for the end of the year when Channel 4 will revisit the site to look at the couple’s choice of interior styling, including their British Standard kitchen! Until then, we shall remain patient and enjoy watching the project progress, and Justin and Charlotte’s hard work pay off!

    exhib ww2 owl 3

    HMS Owl crest: an owl stands watch upon a torpedo (image source)

  • Antique Printing Methods

    Printing techniques have come a long way since the days of Chinese woodblock printing. Over many centuries, these ever-evolving technologies have made it possible for us to share knowledge, create art and express ourselves all over the world. Here we celebrate the provenance and progress of some of these processes, many of which are today considered an art form…

    Printing Press

    You’ve probably heard of Gutenberg’s press, invented in 1436 by Johannes Gutenberg in Germany. It isn’t commonly known however that the history of the movable printing press dates all the way back to 1041 and the work of Bi Sheng, a Han Chinese printer from China. These essential early methods of printing text used raised characters made from wood blocks and later metal (developed in Korea in 1234) which were arranged to make up the desired text in a page-shaped block known as a forme. Once the text was set out and the forme was covered in ink, paper could be laid out and pressed on top, then repeated, to print numerous identical copies of the same page.


    The process of etching is a little bit like creating a batik print and was especially popular in the 17th century. Today etching is still used as an artistic technique. To create a design, the printer or artist uses a metal sheet covered in wax. They must then scrape away the wax from areas where marks are required. With the design scratched into the wax, the metal sheet is dipped into an acid bath known as a mordant. This process burns away the parts of the metal which have been exposed by the creator’s scratches, leaving the rest of the sheet untouched. To complete the process, the sheet known as a printing plate is cleaned, covered in ink and wiped, leaving ink only in the hollows burned away by the acid. Finally, the plate is put in a high pressure printing press to transfer the finished design onto paper.


    Invented in 1796 as an inexpensive way to print text or artwork, lithography is still used today by printers producing large volumes of illustration in books and magazines. In the 21st century the process has become more sophisticated and is now known as offset lithography, but the principals behind the method remain the same. To print using the traditional technique, fat, oil or wax was applied to a smooth lithographic limestone plate in the shape of the desired image. When the stone was moistened with gum arabic and acid, the oily or waxy areas would repel the fluid. Finally, an oil-based ink was applied, which would take to the oily or waxy area alone, leaving the untreated areas blank. The lithograph could then be pressed onto a blank page, creating an afforable, precise print.


    This method is similar to lithography but was used to make coloured prints. In some cases, more than 20 stones were used to make a single image, with each transferring a different colour. In other instances, hand-colouring was used to complete the print. With so much time and skill going into each chomolithograph, this was an extremely time consuming and expensive process.

    Rotary printing press

    The rotary printing press machine consisted of a rotating drum, used to continually print onto paper, card or plastic that was fed into it. This technology, invented in 1842 by Richard March Hoe, allowed printing to become much faster and more efficient. Presses varied in terms of the techniques they used to print as they spun; as an alternative to lithography, some used a process called gravure, where an ink-filled drum pushed ink through small letter-shaped holes in its surface, and others used flexography,which used a raised, ink-covered stamp to make each mark.

    Hot metal typesetting

    This process is used for letterpress printing and took the historic creation of the printing press to the next level. Molten metal is poured into either letter or word shaped molds (known as glyphs), creating accurate, uniform “stamps” to print text.

    The development of this technique was all part of making printing evermore mechanical and efficient, reducing the need to lay out pages and texts by hand (known as handsetting). The Ludlow Typograph, invented in the early 1900s, was the first printer to use hot metal typesetting which required no handsetting whatsoever.


    In 1880, Thomas Edison received a patent to use authographic stencils for printing. With this invention, mimography was born. It was an incredibly cost effective printing process which pressed ink through a stencil (made from a fine metal plate, perforated with a blunt stylus) onto paper. Over time, it was found that this printing technique worked very effectively with a rotary press, which is exactly how the beautiful piece of machinery above worked.

  • Nader Khalili - Designer of domes for the Moon and maybe Surrey

    The sometimes bleak terraces of the Southbank Centre were transformed recently by various architectural constructions as part of it’s 'Festival of the World'. Amongst stalactites of plastic bottles and a baobab tree made of rags were several blob-shaped adobe structures with portholes and fake grass reminiscent of ‘hobbit’ or ‘teletubby’ dwellings.

    Adobe structure at the South Bank Centre by 'Small Earth' (Photo by Belinda Lawley)

    Built by ‘Small Earth’ eco builders, these were a fun-examples of a building system with huge potential to provide cheap and durable housing for the developing world and disaster-zones and perhaps for the developed world as well. The system is called ‘Superadobe’ and was created (originally as a proposal for dwellings on the moon) by the late Iranian architect, author and philosopher Nader Khalili who was interested in developing traditional low-tech building techniques to help alleviate the global housing crisis. Sandbags (filled with earth and cement) and barbed wire (often the by-products of war..) are built up in layers using the wire as reinforcement before the structure is rendered.


    The technique is perfectly suited to the traditional forms of arches, domes and vaults but as these can look alien to Northern and Western eyes it’s hard to imagine them dotted around the British countryside.


    A shame, perhaps, as they could hardly fail to be an improvement on the endless poorly-detailed, historical-pastiche developments that are inflicted on us.. and at a fraction of the cost.


    A slightly more mechanised version where tubular ‘sacks’ are extruded by machine can be used with beams to create buildings to suit Western archetypes with typical apex roofs..or could the Hobbit-house displace the executive cul-de-sac development?
    Adobe Villa, USA


  • Imagined Fictions

    Belgian Photographer Filip Dujardin deftly bends and reimagines reality in his Fictions series. Through the digital manipulation of his own architectural portraits he explores a seemingly endless and increasingly magical range of structural possibilities.  


  • DIY (Dad’s Improved Yesterday) or DIS (Dads In Sheds)

      Retro book cover British Standard Blog

    Whatever happened to pine cladding, Swiss Cheese Plants, primary colours, radiused – corners, non - ironic beards..? The lost world of optimistic 1970s DIY: countless books and magazines showed the ‘hands on’ way to a bright, progressive future. Lost, now to the disposable flat – pack and a popular cultural retreat to familiar forms.

    Retro book pages British Standard Blog

    Many of these quite challenging techniques have now been replaced by modern jointing tools but how many of the end results would really resemble the illustrations? How long would they have withstood the assaults of their dungaree – clad, mop – haired offspring.

    Reto Book British Standard Blog


  • Keeping it Royal..

    Leo Burnett Jubilee Paint ChartLeo Burnett Jubilee chart

    The increasingly ubiquitous Pantone Company has produced a Queen – shaped swatch to assist any 'Royal Watchers' who may wish to imitate her innovative ‘French Fancy’ colour – palette.

    British Standard Blog

  • Ideal Home Show

    HRH Prince Charles meets the directors of British Standard at the Ideal Home Show

    (This is not a caption competition)

    A suitable and topical subject with which to launch our new journal – The visit of HRH Prince Charles to the British Standard display at the Ideal Home Show. Suitable, because the idea for our new range originated with a question of HRH’s when he inspected the Plain English kitchen installed in his ‘Natural House’ project the previous year: “How can we get this to the people..?” – The ‘no frills’ British Standard kitchen was born.

    British Standard Blog Ideal Home 2012

    HRH seemed to enjoy his visit to the stand, relieved, perhaps to find something at the show that wasn’t made of plastic.

    By coincidence, an adjacent stand had this ‘lookalike’ of the Queen to promote its bidet loos – they did not meet.

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