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iStyle: Working class forever

Designers scouring our industrial heritage for inspiration. Trish Lorenz has finds from the factory floor

A new British furniture brand, Bowles & Bowles, launches in London this month. The business is from the company behind lighting stalwarts Original BTC and Davey Lighting and its products share the stripped back aesthetic of the lighting brands.

Bowles & Bowles (bowlesandbowles.com) launches with a 12-strong range including coffee tables, lounge chair, desk and storage pieces, all inspired by 1920s’ vintage wire-mesh lockers discovered at the company’s Birmingham metalwork factory.

Designed by father-and-son team Peter and Charlie Bowles, who founded the company, products are available in copper or zinc finishes. Each piece is pressed, welded and folded by hand on the factory’s original antique machinery. Although heavily industrial in style, the use of mesh and materials like glass give the pieces a sense of lightness.

“Utilitarian styling has a rawness that resonates in today’s interiors. Our challenge was to bring an element of elegance to the pieces while retaining the materials’ functional feel,” says co-founder Charlie Bowles.

To get the industrial look at home, choose pieces with clean, functional lines rather than heavily decorated objects. Mix metal finishes such as copper, aluminium, zinc and steel with other natural materials such as wood, wool and stone. Distressed finishes – aged wood for example – work particularly well. Texture is vital for adding warmth and visual interest to an industrial space. Knotted woollen rugs against gleaming metallic surfaces and distressed wood furniture will invigorate a space without losing the industrial edge.

Industrial items work well when used judiciously in period properties, too. Choose one or two pieces to give a contemporary edge to the space: a mesh locker beside a roll-top bath or gleaming metallic lighting over a dining table.