Profiles: Surface View

Michael Ayerst Surface ViewHomegirl London pays homage to Surface View.  As the names suggests this business is all about creating an interesting and exciting view on a surface like a wall, window or ceiling.  Surface View is a simple concept with sensational results – it’s where images and imagination come together to create stunning interiors.  They’re famous for their murals, canvases and blinds.  However, they also make ceramic tiles, beech box prints, fabric wall hangings, prints and window film.

They stock an amazing array of images from museums, galleries, photographers, designers and even comics.  Customers can choose from one of their specially sourced collections or use one of their own images.  The business is owned by Michael Ayerst who attributes the Surface View concept back to his childhood days of stamp collecting – because it’s all about hunting down that one special image.  Based in his home town of Reading, he employs over 100 people and owns 3 factories so this is a sizable enterprise.  I caught up with Michael to find out more …

Q: Tell me about your background.

A: I did my degree at Queen Mary College, London University.  I read History and Politics and loved it.  I like to think my love of History informs many of our choices in how we develop and build Surface View.

Q: Why set up your business?

A: Surface View came about because my father owned one of Europe’s most advanced digital print plants capable of producing stunning interior graphics and yet our technology was not available to adventurous consumers.  So I wanted to offer this service to the public and connect them with wonderful images for their homes.

HemingwayDesign Collection, Squared Up Mural

HemingwayDesign Collection, Squared Up Mural

Q: Tell me about your service.

A: Everything we do is bespoke.  Our customers choose an image from our collections and then can scale and crop as they like and apply it to their product of choice.  They can then order online and have the bespoke product delivered to their homes.  Surface View will even come along and install a mural or install a blind.

Richard Osbourne Collection, New Forest Dawn Mural

Richard Osbourne Collection, New Forest Dawn Mural

Q: How do you select what appears in your collections?

A: I think Surface View is inspired to seek out the best quality collections and then presenting a curated and thoughtfully presented range for our customers.  We turn down more images than we accept because we only want the best selection possible.

Q: Tell me about your collections.

A: Our Surface View collections are split into sections from Museums and Galleries to Photography to Vintage and Contemporary Design.   Collections from the V&A, The National Gallery, The Natural History Museum sit alongside collections from HemingwayDesign, Ella Doran, Michael Angove and Rana Salam.  Each collection takes time to build and we always select images that will work and transform interiors.  Our customers can take the images and then scale and crop to create their own unique interior product.  Surface View is all about the juxtaposition of old and new of scale and size.

Natural History Museum Collection, Tulip Tiles by R J Thornton

Natural History Museum Collection, Tulip Tiles by R J Thornton

Natural History Museum Collection, Sorbus Aria Crantz 117 Wall Hanging

Natural History Museum Collection, Sorbus Aria Crantz 117 Wall Hanging

Michael Angove Collection, Chrysanthemum Birch Ply Print

Michael Angove Collection, Chrysanthemum Birch Ply Print

Q: Which designer do you admire and why?

A: R. J Mitchell designed the Spitfire – a brilliant timeless design classic with a brilliant name.

Q: What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

A: I think the best thing is that we can choose to do things properly and we have full control over what we want to do.  As a privately owned company we can invest for the long term and we don’t need to reduce our service or product to the lowest common denominator.  All our products are made in Reading, England and we take a huge pride in making the best quality products.

Bespoke Drum Lampshades

Bespoke Drum Lampshades

Q: What one piece of advice would you pass on to someone wanting to set up their own business?

A: I think I would tell people to read a copy of Luke Johnson’s ‘Start it Up’ which I actually read recently and thought it was a great little book.  Most importantly it has been written by someone who has done it and his main message is to stop making excuses and start something up!

Q: What’s coming up for the rest of 2013?

A: Our website www.surfaceview.co.uk is constantly being upgraded and we are adding new and exciting features throughout 2013.  We also have a number of exciting new collections being introduced throughout the year.

In terms of price Surface View start from around £35.00 per square metre and you can buy from www.surfaceview.co.uk.  Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Surface View, special thanks to Michael Ayerst and David Gorrod.