About 18 months ago, I introduced the hashtag #designupnorth to head up a series of posts focusing on good design being accessible north of the Watford gap.
As a blogger/designer I get invited to stuff all the time (which is lovely) but every frickin design event/launch/networking opp is always down south. In fact, brands barely even put the addresses on for these events anymore, it’s just assumed we all know they’re down in Landan and we’ll just pop down there for a canpé and a Prosecco or four. Needless to say, I have yet to frequent one of these said events, a) because I work full time, in Leeds b) they’re always at rubbish times like 8am or 6pm and c) because a return trip to Kings Cross aint cheap.
But… a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to an event…. wait for it…. in North Yorkshire! 30 mins drive away from Making Spaces HQ. Yes, yes! We have a Bert & May, UP NORTH. Not in London. Well, yes in London too, but we have a Yorkshire based Bert and May. Look. I went last week. It’s here:
Yorkshire clouds in a Yorkshire blue sky
Don’t know who Bert & May are? Here’s a quick intro.
- The business began life in Spain as a reclaimed tile company founded by Lee Thornley, a former barrister who moved from London in 2004.
- Thornley recognised the demand for architectural salvage from interior architects and designers, from here a new project was born.
- In 2010, Thornley met Juan Menacho, owner of a small, artisan family business making encaustic tiles using traditional handmade techniques. The pair decided the future lay in making their own vintage-inspired designs.
- Rebranded and officially launched as Bert & May in September 2013, the company has since gone on to produce an extensive collection of distinctive graphic and geometric tiles, as well as engineered wood, made in Yorkshire.
- In 2016, Bert & May began collaborating with designers and architects to create bespoke kitchens and bathrooms.
- Glazed tiles, made in Stoke-on-Trent (my birth place), still using only natural pigments, are now available, as well as a new range of interiors paints.
And here they are in 2017. A new showroom in North Yorkshire, about half an hour’s drive from Leeds, York and Harrogate. Lucky me.
Unfortunately, the launch event I was invited to, was the same week my hubby was away cycling around in Majorca. So “life” meant, I couldn’t make. Bah! But Bert and May very kindly offered me a solo tour later that week. First to the salvage yard and then off to the show house.
My absolute favourites (above and below)
They’ve got tiles. They’ve got a lot of tiles. They’ve got a lot of tiles I really really like.
After a quick loo break, I was whisked off to the show house, a short drive away through the north Yorkshire lanes.
Do come in.
I could have sworn this house was Georgian on first appearance (the arched windows & overall symmetry,) and I was so very nearly right, but alas, being born around 1840 it falls into the Victorian era. I was out by 10 years. Still felt Georgian to me though.
Tiled hearth in the front room
This is in fact, where, Lee Thornley, the founder of Bert & May lives. So it’s not just a show home, it’s a real home. Lee has used Bert and May products beautifully throughout his house giving them some context away from the yard.
Unfinished ceiling anyone? House Doctor ceiling light? Yes, and yes please.
So, Lee does actually live here, but there were samples everywhere that had been left out from a launch event I wasn’t able to make earlier that week.
Polished brass bathroom fittings
Bert and May paint, tiles, tea towels, kitchen worktop….
The concrete worktop was all kinds of tactile
Reclaimed wood panels – big fan of these
Into the dining room, more samples galore
Are your eyes going funny looking at the wall hanging?
Look at those blues!
So much to take in. Time to take a look upstairs.
And looking back down again
My dream curtains
I have been looking for some curtains for my own living room since we moved here nearly five years ago. I absolutely HATE looking for curtains. They’re too complicated, fussy and always expensive. Well Bert and May’s curtains are only one of these things. Time to get saving.
All of their fabrics are a blend of linen and cotton, manufactured in the UK and handprinted up in Glasgow.
Blanket and paints also by Bert and May
Concrete tiles, sunken bath and brass shower head and valve
The bathroom has limited head height and lacked space for both a bath and shower, so they’ve sunken the bath into the floor and plumbed a shower over the bath. Genius.
I checked what was below to see how this had affected the layout downstairs. The bath was over a cupboard. Whether the cupboard came as a result of the bathroom, i’m not sure. Either way, it’s an excellent use of space, improved further by the different shades of grey encaustic tile used throughout.
Basin colour samples
So that was my Bert and May experience. How much stuff are you coveting right now, eh? If you’re a Yorkshire-ite, i’d highly recommend a trip to check out their products. I’m really hoping to use some of their tiles in a project i’ve not written about just yet… **crosses fingers and checks budget spreadsheet**
Have a good week y’all.