Ines Cole

Profiles: Ines Cole

Sarah Ines ColeHomegirl London pays homage to Ines Cole.  The company that redesigns and reinterprets vintage furniture.  They resuscitate ‘found’ objects to bring them back to life without losing their original character or quality.  They have a fantastic range of furniture including re-upholstered Victorian Library Chairs and Sofas, tables made from Singer sewing machine bases, restored industrial trolleys and dip-dyed stools.  They also stock vintage lamps and artisan-made home accessories.   The company is owned by married couple Sarah and Philip Cole, Sarah takes care of the collection and Philip the business side.  The business grew out of Sarah’s passion for restoring furniture from antique fairs and is now a successful enterprise.  I caught up with the duo to find out more …

Q: Tell me about your backgrounds.

A: Sarah – I trained at the KLC School studying interior design and then did freelance work and assisted Sarah Delaney, who has a formidable eye for design. For me, the evolution of Ines Cole has been a very intuitive and organic process. Philip has a natural, sharp eye for design and detail, which aids new products coming through.  He is a chartered accountant by training and takes care of Ines Cole’s strategy and business development.

Q: How did you meet?

A: We met in 1996 in Cape Town, South Africa, when we went on a trip with a mutual friend.

Q: Why set up a business?

A: After our first two children were born and I no longer worked, even though we had been renovating our house, I felt creatively stifled.  I would visit antique markets sourcing items to restore for our home, and a good friend who loved how I had revived or restyled the pieces suggested l look to do more with it … the rest is history.  Ines is my daughter’s middle name, hence Ines Cole as the company title.

Ines Cole Vintage Steel Stool

Ines Cole Vintage Steel Stool, £155

Q: Where are you based and why?

A: We are currently based in Chiswick, West London, with our workshop in Kew.

Q: How many people work at your company?

A: We have been so lucky with our incredible team.  There are just 4 of us on a day-to-day basis, but we also call on a fabulous cast of freelancers.

Q: Describe your design style.

A: It’s about exploring different materials and textures, I adore marble and yearn to work with it, but it is heavy and expensive, so we are yet to find a way.  I love contemporary design, but for me, modern comes alive when blended with aged, original items – character and imperfections of an old or handmade piece can ground and give substance to an interior.

Q: Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

A: I mostly feel inspired when I’m relaxed and absorbing what is around me.  We have three small children, and with the demands of family life, it can sometimes be hard to find quiet time.  Studying and paying heed to the item generally determines its new use or style, without being incongruous.

Ines Cole Jielde Vintage Lamp

Ines Cole Jielde Vintage Lamp, £375

Q: What’s your fascination with vintage?

A: For me, the pleasure is in taking a discarded, typically rough item and reinventing it for today’s homes. An object such as an old industrial pallet used initially as warehouse storage, with significant work and attention, can be transformed into a beautiful centrepiece.  I love the history of old pieces; they each have a story, which adds atmosphere to a room.

Q: Tell me about your collections.

A: Our Two-Tone upholstered collection was an idea I had based on a couple of fabric colourways I felt worked well together, when I tried them on a sofa they looked so arresting. We’ve played around with other combinations ever since.

Ines Cole Two Tone Upholstery

Ines Cole Two-Tone Upholstery, Victorian Chair, £1250

Two Tone Sofa, Ines Cole

Ines Cole Two-Tone Upholstery, Victorian Sofa, £2550

Our Steel Table Collection I just love – The Aged Leather Table and Mercury Glass Table are beautiful, but I have a passion for classic literature, and the Page Table is a huge favourite of mine.  It originated when I saw some books used in a store around the cash desk – that sowed the seed for this table.  We take iconic, old mellowed books; the pages are individually placed in a strewn fashion under clear glass and trimmed with brass.

Ines Cole Steel Table with Aged Leather

Ines Cole Steel Table with Aged Leather, £1295

Ines Cole Page Table

Ines Cole Page Table, £1195

Q: Which designer do you admire and why?

A: For me, Ilse Crawford is a goddess; she is a huge inspiration. Not only for the way she uses natural textures and blends old with new, but her humanistic design approach.  She starts from the point of wellbeing, adding sense and meaning to an interior, she studies the history of a building and its environment and gets under the skin of what is required for its current day usage and inhabitants.

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

A: Probably being your own boss.

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

A: Be aware that a business can take on its own life-form.  You get out of it what you put it into it, so be prepared for it to become all-consuming.  Keep reminding yourself why you’re doing it.

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

A: We have just gone live with our new eCommerce website, which is a significant next step for Ines Cole.  We are also looking at some more store concessions both in the UK and overseas.

You can buy the products from Ines Cole.  See below for more fabulous products from Ines Cole.  Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Ines Cole, special thanks to Sarah and Philip Cole and Chloe at Weston Fox PR.

Ines Cole product selection

Ines Cole Products

  1. Linen Cushion Rectangular, £59
  2. Chai Glass Set, £34
  3. Storage Dolly, £235
  4. Chai Glass Set, £34
  5. Victorian Glass Dome Lamp, £195
  6. Chai Glass Set, £34
  7. Indian Marble Bowl, £29
  8. Chai Glass Set, £34