Citizen M’s affordable luxury

Mobile. That’s what the M in Citizen M stands for. Reflecting the target audience of busy people who don’t want the usual hotel experience but want to get in, somewhere to sleep and a great living area to relax in before bed. A “good shower, good bed, good wi-fi, coffee and some kind of environment, and good location.” That’s how they describe the experience of this affordable luxury hotel group.

I recently co-hosted an event at Citizen M Tower Hill as part of We Blog Design (our little community, a free network that informs, inspires and connects design bloggers), where I stayed in the hotel from 10am through to the next morning, experiencing this affordable luxury first hand.



What interested me about the hotel group is that living areas are filled to the brim with the bold colours and iconic shapes of Vitra classic furniture, from Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Verner Panton, Jean Prouvé and Isamu Noguchi in every space that you look yet this hotel charges between only £125-£200 per night. Sure, that’s not cheap but try finding a hotel in London that charges less… your options are very limited.

“It’s not necessarily designer furniture, it’s more to create the environment all together.” says CMO Robin Chadha of Citizen M “Of course we have one type of bedroom, we don’t have superior rooms or suits or Kings or Queens.”


And that appears to be the key to Citizen M, place importance on what matters to busy travellers and not on the unnecessary things which don’t make a difference. Obviously, some stay in hotels for the luxury and decadence but that’s not who the Citizen M customer is and there is a plethora of options for them. And by having compact rooms that are stacked up like pods, but a warm and welcoming reception to relax in you can feel perfectly at home wherever you choose to rest.

“From our own experiences we said ‘ok how do you spend your time at home, how much time do you spend in your bedroom at home?’ I sleep there, maybe I read a book, go and watch a TV show, I live in my living room and my kitchen so why would we do it differently in the hotel? It’s very simple you know, that’s how we came up with the whole concept, we looked first at the traveller, who is this new mobile citizen, we named it after them, we took up our own frustrations and experiences we had with travelling, that’s how we came up with half the things here.”

“What we do is all the room units, those are all the same, instead of trying to build on-site, why not build off-site so they’re all modular units which are created in a factory, basically we build a ground floor, two ground floors, on top of that the rooms are stacked and then we close the façade and close everything up around it.”

This concept excites me greatly. Clever design… and good design doesn’t need to be luxurious. This has been going around my head for some time now as I see great products at the high end, and poorly constructed products at the low end. Efficiency is the key to creating luxury at a price that is more affordable to everyone.

“We don’t cut corners in design, technology, iPads in the rooms, we’ve added more cool stuff you’ll see at Tower Hill but we think that’s all part of the experience. Of course we have ways of saving money…our staffing model of course is quite efficient, we don’t have a restaurant, we don’t have chefs, we don’t have waitresses, great for the guests are also the great for our operations because we don’t need to have this whole front desk area, people can check in and out very quickly.”






Investing in good quality design for key parts of the home, or in this case hotel, is the best approach to designing an interior that will last, look great but avoid the high costs of having expensive furniture throughout. Focus on what matters at home…comfort. Citizen M have focused on a comfortable bed, a great shower and incredible furniture to relax in making this one of my favourite places in London.

Affordable luxury that I can feel at home in. What more do we need?

Quotes taken from a recent interview by Katie Treggiden of Confessions of a Design Geek, who kindly sent me specific quotes that she knew I’d find interesting for my post.

Button & Sprung’s British-Made Mattresses

I was invited to visit the new showroom for Button & Sprung and see their beds and mattresses up close.

Beds and mattresses are starting to become a regular theme for me, as there are a lot of options on the market, many of which are all amazing quality. In the spirit of Atelier Tally I only feature products that I feel are ‘made to last’ so that you, my readers, can trust in the products that I feature. This interest comes from my current situation of buying my first flat and looking at what permanent decisions on furnishings I need to make. I have a great mattress already, but now have more beds to consider.

Having been asked to visit Button & Sprung and write up my thoughts, I was very keen to get my tired self on to these pocket sprung mattresses that their customers rave so much about. It was helpful that my visit was welcomed by managing director Adam Black (founder of Feather & Black) to give me the full low-down on why he’s started Button & Sprung.


I started my tour upstairs in the mattress room which had a definite Goldilocks and the Three Bears feel to it, with beds all in a row ready to be tried out to find the bed that is ‘just right’. Adam explained that the mattresses were in order of price and, therefore, comfort, so I should start in one corner and work my way around the room. “We’re a mattress company primarily, but we soon realised that we needed to sell upholstered beds as well” explained Adam.

“To guarantee the quality of our mattress materials, most of our natural materials come from a farm near the factory here in the UK. Hemp and linen flax are grown from seed and sheep are raised on lush pastureland free from pesticides and fertilisers. We only use Herdwick and Yorkshire wool in our mattresses because they are the springiest, most resilient and best to sleep on.”

I worked my way around the room, trying out the beds and as soon as I sunk myself into the first mattress I was sold! Their mattresses are all pocket-sprung and super comfortable, but it was when I laid down on mattress number 4, Perendale, with its 8,800 springs that I realised this was ‘just right’ and had my own Goldilocks moment.


Downstairs the showroom is filled with upholstered beds, and it’s easy to get carried away with design decisions when you’re in a space like that. But it was Daisy that caught my eye, with the deep buttoned back curved headboard and simple bedstead frame. There are some clear mid-Century influences to this design but it is as contemporary as any other bed in the showroom and with fabric choices to suit all needs and budgets.




I have to admit, I was sceptical about the quality of the headboards — fabric can look very different on-screen to how it looks and feels in person — I tend to base my decision on the price and work out if the price suits the quality of fabric that I’m looking for, but that’s not a very scientific approach. So it’s obviously helpful to be able to get down to see it in person, and if not then Button & Sprung will happily send you a pack of fabrics to feel. With some of the best fabric brands within their collection, there is a choice for everyone — those on a strict budget and those looking to upgrade and get their perfect bed.

Having chosen my Perendale mattress and Daisy bed frame (all imaginary at the moment, but perfect for my future home) I browsed the periphery to see the fabric section, kids entertainment area and materials display to get a good feel for the details this company looks at. Adam Black knows retail clearly, he has created a showroom with every detail considered, from free Wifi, amazing coffee, customer testimonials dotted around, bedtime quotes to read whilst laying down and jars filled with materials to fondle and understand what’s inside your mattress. But, on top of this, the process of buying (what is actually a very complex product) is simple, littered with positive, genuine reviews from customers and backed up with a delivery service you always wanted.

You might not yet have heard of Button & Sprung beds and mattresses but I am sure you’ll be seeing a lot of them as they establish themselves in this exciting industry that is challenging itself to serve the customer better.


Product: Perendale mattress on Daisy bed frame
Designer: Button & Sprung
Manufacturer: Button & Sprung
Year: 2015
Price: £2,295

A good night’s sleep. A Leesa Mattress review

There are a few products in our home that don’t get a lot of attention on design blogs. Often technology is one of them, although some companies are breaking through with products designed to be seen and not just used. Other products which receive very little attention are in fact the very products that we spend most of our time with. I’m talking about mattresses. But there is a quiet revolution happening in the bedroom due to the advanced technology going in to mattresses, both in terms of comfort and the way in which we buy them.

I love online shopping, I live and breathe it in my day job as well as personally shopping online a lot. I’m always interested to see companies pushing how we buy to new areas making it seem insane that we ever bought products a different way. When we started to buy holiday’s online, the brick-and-mortar companies thought it wouldn’t last because customers want to speak to a person before booking a holiday. I cannot recall the last time I stepped foot in Lunn Poly. Can you?


And now mattress buying is evolving, with Leesa paving the way for how this really should be done. Offering just one mattress, perfect for all of our needs, with clear pricing and an amazing 100 night risk free trial, it starts to make you wonder why we ever bought mattresses in showrooms.

Well of course, as with lots of furniture, we all want to sit our bums down on it to see if it’s comfortable before buying and even with a 100 night risk free trial we don’t want the hassle of it arriving and not being right. So what do we do? We read reviews. And the reviews speak volumes. This is a very, very comfortable mattress which doesn’t overheat, has all of the advantages of memory foam without being an entirely memory foam mattress, and makes sleeping better. Which is what it is all about, right?

I can say quite happily that I’ve not had an achy back ever since I started sleeping on my Leesa mattress, which I usually do if I spend too much time lounging around at the weekend. So much so, that I saw it as an issue with me rather than the bed, but I realise there is a solution to this… Leesa.

There is some science to all of this too, so you don’t have to take my word for it…

  • The 5cm top layer allows air-flow for a cooler night’s sleep. The Avena® foam also provides enough bounce for freedom of movement.
  • The 5cm memory foam layer provides the body contouring and pressure relief you’ve come to expect from memory foam. This is what stops my back from being even the slightest bit achy.
  • The 12cm dense core support foam adds strength, durability and structure to support sleepers of all sizes, without feeling too firm on top.








You’re probably reading this still unsure whether it’s right for you, because a sprung mattress is all you’ve ever known… and your friends tell you not to get a memory foam mattress because they overheat. Yep, I heard all that too, and thought that too. And of course, you can buy cheaper mattresses. I’ve never really been one for a cheap mattress, when I spend 1/3 of my life on it I want it to be comfortable and give me a great night’s sleep. I’d rather forfeit something else in order to get a good rest, and it really isn’t expensive.

For me, the Leesa mattress is one of those perfect products which is at a great price point for what you get. From the website, to the customer service, to the way it arrives in a compact box (don’t be fooled people, it’s actually quite heavy), to the ease of getting it on the bed and then the first sleep on it, Leesa has got it all just right for me.

Now finally, in the interest of full disclosure I need to say that Leesa did send me the mattress in the hope that I would love it and review it. This has not influenced my blog post, I write what I think about products no matter what as I believe in the integrity of my writing. So, you may take this from me that I fully endorse the Leesa mattress and if you’re reading this considering purchasing a new mattress, try Leesa for 100-nights. I don’t think you’ll be sending it back.

Leesa are offering my readers the chance to buy the mattress with £50 off.

Replica furniture: Fakes or Affordable design? The big debate.

Last week I wrote a post about replica furniture and didn’t expect the feedback to come back as much as it did, and I’m very appreciative of hearing the comments because it’s why I wrote a blog after-all. It felt like throwing a rock pebble in to a pond and the ripples are still going.

As a single post on the topic of Replica furniture, it was never going to be able to touch on all aspects of this subject so I had planned to pick this up again with a few more posts. The main point that was raised over this post is whether we (and by ‘we’ I am referring to the less wealthy design lover) should have the chance to buy designs at a far lower price.


Images above courtesy Vitra

Why should an Eames DSW chair be out of my reach when I’m as appreciative of this as those with more cash. After all Charles & Ray always wanted their designs to be placed in the public realm and enjoyed by everyone.

This opens two strands of conversation for me:
1. Why does an Eames DSW cost £340?
2. Should copies be allowed to offer a lower cost version?

I’ve given my moral opinion on this subject, I am against copies. They take royalties away from designers. Simple as that. (NB. I’m going to deal with the subject of royalties for designers who are no longer alive another time as that keeps coming up.)

But what about my opinion on affordability, and the desire of a designer to make their products inexpensive. And what should that price be? I hear the amount £30 a lot for a chair. In my opinion, you can’t make a good chair to retail for £30. But I do own chairs that cost £10 which I love. But I wouldn’t compare them to the comfort of my Vitra Eames DSW. If a chair is £30 then I’m desperate to sit my bum in it and see how comfortable it is. If it is comfortable then I’m starting to look at the quality of manufacturing. Do those nuts and bolts come loose easily? Is the edge of the plastic finished by hand? If that looks good to me too, then I’m wondering where it is made, what the packaging is like, and how it will look after a few years of use. This is a difficult area, and one that I’m hoping to explore very soon. (On that note, I’ve reached out to some companies for help on this, but I would love a manufacturer to explain to me why their products cost more than the copies.(

So, let’s get back on track. Should copies be allowed to offer a lower cost version? I believe in creativity, and funding this, be that a designer or a manufacturer. And copies open up issues for me with this.

But why copy a design? Why not design a £30 chair? Or is this a key point that the designing/modelling of a product takes time and costs money whereas a copy can be done for relatively little money. Perhaps it is, perhaps not. Or is it to fuel demand? We see the Eames DSW on Pinterest and in magazines all of the time which fuels our desire to have one of these icons in our own homes. If a new chair design was launched would it sell as well as a copy? Probably not. And to market a new product is expensive…to create the demand that the Eames DSW has generated. Herein lies some of the extra cost seen by the official products, they support and create the awareness that makes it appealing to copycats.

But why not let the people who want the original buy that, and let people who can’t afford it buy a copy? Here we are with a moral dilemma again. If you designed something and were happily selling it making profit from your own idea, and someone copied it and sold it undercutting you and paid you nothing, would that make you angry or happy that your product was being enjoyed by more people? Don’t worry, dear reader, there is no need to answer that question. Most of us are capitalists when it comes to commerce.


Images above courtesy Ikea

So why not design a new chair for £30? C’mon, how hard can it be? Form Us With Love were tasked with just that by mega-retailer Ikea who sell their Janinge chair for £40. It’s a plastic chair that infringes no copyright and even supports creativity by funding new affordable design and furniture. Or why not buy Hille’s reissue of the Polyprop chair endorsed by the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation which is only £49 and is so very beautiful in all it’s utilitarian splendour. Buying that chair supports the foundation’s work with student development and funds future design exploration.

Image courtesy Wikipedia via Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation


Images above courtesy Amos Marchant / Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation

There are a variety of ways that you can buy an inexpensive chair without having to buy a copy. Great design, affordable, ethical, made to last and comfortable. Precisely what an affordable chair should be.

Product: Official Eames DSW Chair
Designer: Charles & Ray Eames
Manufacturer: Vitra or Herman Miller
Year: 1950
Price: £340

Product: Replica Eames DSW Chair
Designer: Charles & Ray Eames
Manufacturer: Voga
Year: 1950
Price: £67

Product: Polypropylene Side Chair
Designer: Robin Day
Manufacturer: Hille
Year: 1963
Price: £49

Product: Janinge Chair
Designer: Form Us With Love
Manufacturer: Ikea
Year: 2015
Price: £40

Replica furniture outlawed in UK. Is this the end of affordable design?

I received a press release from a PR a couple of weeks ago with the title as you see it. “Replica furniture outlawed in UK. Is this the end of affordable design?” Naturally I was intrigued to read what they had to say on the subject, as the title is rather leading. It is passively suggesting that this new law will have a knock effect to affordable design which makes me curious to read the argument.

The company that commissioned the press release is Pash Living state “Pash Living, who have specialised in replica furniture market, now face the prospect of having to reinvent their entire business model.”

A bold statement that this law is putting their livelihood in jeopardy. “A new copyright ruling designed to bring the UK in line with the rest of Europe, was expected to give retailers a number of years to sell off their existing stock. But yesterday they were told they must stop selling by January 28th, 2017, or face prosecution.” Crikey.

Pash Founder, Aaran Hall, said: “The dream of designers like Ray and Charles Eames was to make good design available to everyone. That’s not possible when the license for these products belongs to big business and costs big money. When an original Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chair will set you back about £5,000, it’s easy to see why the £450 copy has been so popular.

Our aim is to make great design available to as many people as possible, at an affordable price. We take as much pride in our products as any design house, quality checking every item before it leaves us. We are moving into more original lines as a result of the legislation but our mission will always be to offer the best quality designer furniture at the most competitive price.”

Image copyright Vitra

However, this bill was first raised in 2012, and later put to the House of Lords in 2013 allowing replica furniture to be sold up until 2020. Most of these companies have made no effort to make changes to their business in the three years since then, holding out until 2020 before they begin to pivot their business models. The decision to bring this forward to 28 July 2016 (with a window to sell stock until 28th January 2017) may escalate the decisions these companies need to make however it is not quite the shock that the press release is suggesting.

According to MailOnline: “The coalition Government’s decision to repeal Section 52 of the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, as part of the the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, was expected to be implemented in 2020, to give companies affected time to adapt. However, a legal challenge has forced the Government to fast track it to April 28th this year.”

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I’m whole-heartedly against fakes. I wrote a piece about the Tolix chair which has been the most popular post every month ever since I wrote it back in 2013 around the time of Elle Decoration’s Fight the Fakes campaign.

Image copyright Knoll

But what really caused me to grab my laptop and write a blog post about Pash Living’s press release was a short statement at the bottom of the release which states “Supporters of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill say the companies who pay to license these products should be allowed the exclusive rights to them. Those against it, claim the bill will stifle creativity and that big businesses are taking these products out of the reach of the very people they were designed to serve.”

No explanation has been given by Pash Living as to how this will stifle creativity and I would argue quite the opposite. By producing replica furniture and not paying royalties to designers, you are lining the pockets of a retailer and not a designer. No designer is benefiting from replica furniture sales, and therefore any money they may need to support themselves during design processes is under pressure.

By supporting this bill, we are enabling companies to work with designers as all products will need to be licensed and pay appropriate royalties or fees to designers to continue their creativity.

Those against this bill are supporting no creativity. And if you can sleep at night knowing that then I have no issue, but let’s not all pretend that replica furniture is in some way a good thing. I personally support the bill and Pash Living should be changing their business to support design rather than exploit design.

Image copyright Fritz Hansen

People took to Twitter with their comments, and in the fairness of giving a full view here are some that grabbed my attention…