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We unveil our fantastic collaboration with the inimitable Nina Campbell.
We caught up with her to talk about the new collection and all things design…
Nina Campbell is one of the world’s most influential interior designers, known for her brilliant sense of style. It’s why we were so thrilled when she wanted to collaborate with us on a truly exceptional range of tiles.
The collection brings Nina’s flair and expertise to 10 patterned tiles inspired by her designs and seven plain tiles that perfectly complement the Nina Campbell palette.
Good design has to be appropriate for the client. It has to be practical, otherwise it’s irritating. I think it needs to be suitable for its surroundings for the same reason. You need to take into account the bones of the building and where it is. There are things you could do in Maine that you might not do in Palm Beach or things you can do in London you might not do in the north of Scotland.
It’s really important where the design is going and who it is for. You have to think about whether it’s a big family house or a single person living in a penthouse in the city. Then, you need to consider the style of those living there. You have people who are more contemporary – and want something colourful – or you can have people that simply shudder if they see a flower.
Everything really. What’s not to be excited about? I was lucky to start so young. I opened my first shop when I was 22 and we are still in business 50 years later.
I enjoy everything new that comes through the door. I think one of the reasons we’ve managed to stay relevant is that I firmly believe one has to keep an open mind and open eyes.
I want a client to feel comfortable with me and with the team and to let them know they can say anything to us. If you do something you think is hugely embarrassing when you come in the front door, then tell us about it because we can cope with it further down the line.
We don’t want people to pretend they take their shoes off at the door if they’re going to walk through the drawing room with muddy boots. I think you need to know all sorts of things about people – how they entertain, do the dogs jump on the bed (one hopes yes) – because we are just there to facilitate their lives and make it a joy for them to come home.
If it’s a house that is already done and that we’re redoing, then I think there might be things in that room that possibly might look better somewhere else. Quite often, people have got some unsuitable furniture in a room because it has just got there somehow at some point in life, or maybe the in-laws gave it so it would be embarrassing to move it. The joy for a designer is that we can say something would look better somewhere else. It’s a huge relief for both members of the family. You can be used as a psychiatrist and a marriage counsellor and everything else.
You’re there to be totally honest and see how you can make a room better and what you can save because I think all families, especially children, like the familiarity of furniture they’ve grown up with. The other thing I think is important to consider is restoring furniture, such as that which has been in the family for a while. I have a table where the top had just got rather used, so I had it sanded down and stained a slightly richer colour. I find restoring very satisfying.
I like bathrooms to look like rooms if possible. My daughter’s first flat had a bathroom that was really nasty. The bath was boxed-in and water had seeped into it. We put in a footed bath and a pedestal basin.
By doing those very simple things, the area of the bathroom sort of doubled in size immediately because there was no longer just a tiny patch of floor and a boxed-in bath and basin. There are little things you can do in small bathrooms and tiles are an obvious answer for that. They look lovely running under footed baths.
I’ve been using Fired Earth a lot and I thought we had some designs that would look rather lovely on their tiles and, luckily, they agreed. Finding Fired Earth was like discovering a company with a similar aesthetic to the things I like.
It’s not too flashy. I like their simulated stone floors, which make life a whole lot easier. An actual stone floor is automatically thicker. A simulated version is cheaper, lighter, easier to lay. That was where I started using Fired Earth, but then discovered other lovely tiles in interesting shapes and began using them too.
I always think there are situations where you can use a busier tile, so I wanted to create something very patterned, like La Moulade. Then I wanted a tile that sat somewhere between busy and plain, which was how Altai came about. La Moulade and Altai are very successful patterns of ours. You might not recognise them because we’ve cut up the pattern for the tiles. I love the Moorish parts of Spain, with their lovely tile designs, so that was the inspiration for Seville and Ronda. I like the fact we have those two designs there that can be patchworked together. It was really a question of trying to find something for everyone.
It was interesting thinking about which colours work in tiles, as well as those which don’t. Blue and white is an obvious colourway. Aqua works for us in every fabric collection we do. We wanted to create some tiles that are just two colours and some that are multi-coloured. Then we have the Topkapi and the Jodphur, which have the same sort of feel and have a little more going on. To balance all of this we created Rivage. These are plain coloured tiles which you can intersperse with the patterns or use alone. I really rather like that long brick look.
Luckily, we’re very used to having to leave things out! When we do our textile patterns, we might choose nine colours and then have a meeting about it and the money head comes in and says we can’t do all nine so have to whittle it down.
When you do this, you end up with a much tighter and much more successful collection. It’s rather like when you go into a cake shop and want everything but have to eventually settle on just one.
The Fired Earth & Nina Campbell collection brings Nina’s design flair and expertise to a range of tiles in elegant patterns that complement the Nina Campbell palette.
In seven colours designed to complement the Nina Campbell palette, the undulating surfaces and rippling edges of these beautifully designed glazed tiles mimic perfectly a traditional handcrafted wall tile.
It’s quite a similar process actually. This is our first go at tiles, so we were very reliant on Fired Earth for their monitoring of the whole thing.
We’ve had to learn a whole new language because one tile could only be done in one way and another in a different way. For the next collection it will be easier because we will understand all the rules. It’s the same in the textile world and weave is actually much more difficult than tiles.
It’s back to those cakes! If I had to choose a favourite, I’d probably end up with a plain one because I love colour.
I do love La Moulade, though, so maybe that is my favourite. But then I also love the Coral – I’m having a coral moment.
The Indigo is also beautiful. I think I might end up with Indigo and White somewhere. So actually choosing just one is an impossible task.
I see them using them to create splashbacks for kitchens and for floors in certain places, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms. I think laundry rooms need to be cheerful.
‘Back of house’ is really important when you’re doing a home because whoever is going to use it will want it to be joyful. If you have a beautifully tiled floor and a splashback it’s going to be much better than a plain, dreary room.
The Fired Earth & Nina Campbell collection brings Nina’s design flair and expertise to a range of tiles in elegant patterns and beautifully coloured plains that complement the Nina Campbell palette.SHOP NOW