Unpacking urban style: A mini masterclass with Melanie Ewing

The Urban design concept is a homage to the 18th century Industrial Revolution, an era of uber-efficient technology and large-scale mechanisation, with high-ceilinged, double or triple volume warehouses and production facilities. Repurposed lofts, converted factory facilities and reimagined warehouses offer nostalgic charm with unique hybrid character grown from the balance of old and new. Carrying the design DNA of industrial energy, Urban Style embraces the muscular inner-city soul of these spaces but brings with it a contemporary twist of soft neutrals, clean finishes, floods of natural light, natural elements, extremely comfortable furnishings and materials that are both contrasting and complementary.

As Melanie Ewing frames it, “Urban interiors borrow elements of contemporary, modern, and industrial designs to create a softer, more comfortable and chic design”.

Typically, Urban interior style makes the most of functional, efficient and practical spaces.

The Urban Palette favours a neutral colour palette that melds with hues that are deeply reminiscent of nature. Of course, depending upon your appetite for edginess, your colours should match your personality; so an urban colour wheel could be feature extreme moodiness with shadowy hues, or gentle stone tones, or exciting contrasts between charcoals, metals, browns on the one side, and creams, olive greens and teal on the other. Edgy, playful or punchy. Let your taste be your guide.

We’ve seen black and blue headliners with co-starring wood. We’ve also enjoyed African earth tones with rich soil and terracotta. But still, we return with pleasure to softer tones highlighted with browns, black and white. Your call, really.

Urban Finishes love to play with glamorous metals. Brass, copper, steel, wire, or metal powder-coated in black. Wood, whether dark or pale, works a storm, whether it’s a set of floating shelves, furniture, flooring, exposed wooden beams. Urban loves leather. The more worn and storied, the better. Concrete and cement, screed, revealed brick. A sense of ‘unfinished’ surfaces, with roughened finishes.

The Urban Layout sings its most beautiful song in a larger, open-plan space with masses of natural light – if possible, flooding through floor to ceiling windows. Plenty of space helps the large pieces of furniture with minimalist shapes and sleek lines to have their moment, uncluttered. Rather architectural, in this sense. Geometric lines and designs, a scattering of vintage pieces (leather?), with neutrals, textures and nature-inspired pops in the layering. Balance wood with metals, and turn up the warmth to avoid any sense of clinical chilliness. The most effective urban spaces should be inviting, warm and welcoming, apart from being functional and efficient.

It’s a blended aesthetic which needs a practiced eye and a helping hand for optimum success. Once again, your personality will pull you to create the balance that works best for you.

Italtile’s Urban Starter Pack includes our glowing and gorgeous Blaze Haya, a 300 x 1500 mm plank format porcelain tile in three colours. This is a natural-looking wood effect, with the feel of raw carpentry revealing the natural knots and whirls of unstained wood grain; absolutely bang on for that cool, chilled Urban style home and barefoot living. It’s an imported tile, made in Spain, with impeccable eco-chic credentials. Consider using it on the floor the walls, the ceiling … and ask us how we can cut it to clad your kitchen island with our Waterjet Cutting Service.

When it comes to Urban bathroom style, you’ll really elevate the aesthetic with our Granada Wall Hung Vanity with its two hush-hush soft close drawers. Ash Grey in colour, with a natural feel wood look counter. Sophisticated, sustainable (another of our exclusive Spanish imports), with that desirable wood and grey tone poem that hums along beautifully to the tune of your Urban mood board. Modern cement and concrete have dominated the built environment for over 150 years (although, as with so many of the base elements of human habitation, you’ll find fascinating origins in ancient Greece and Rome). The formwork cement revealed in warehouse conversions has become tremendously vogueish as a ‘look’ all of its own – cement that carries the imprint of structural wooden supports – and Ceramica Sant’Agostino have given this textural feeling new life in their brilliant 600 x 1200 large format Form Cement, an eco-chic porcelain tile that achieves a raw, multi-dimensional, monolithic look. We’re thrilled to be able to offer our customers this one-of-a-kind masterpiece (winner of the Archiproducts Design Award in 2020) as an Italtile exclusive. Last words. The Urban aesthetic can be pulled off to great effect with the right combo of colours, textures and vintage highlights. Always consider the space you have at your disposal before diving into the décor. And remember we’re here to help.

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