The Designer Den

Designing for life

Linda Benjamin

We may not be showing our spring/summer collection at Paris Fashion Week this week, but as creative directors of our lives, it feels good to make design decisions when the opportunity presents.

I love living in London. Overhearing conversations in exotic languages (it’s not classed as nosiness if I can’t understand what they’re saying), waiting no more than 2 minutes for the next tube to whisk me to my next destination and getting last minute tickets to a mid week theatre show are just some of the perks. But there are always two sides to every coin and living in a city like London is also very busy and very expensive.

I don’t have many friends based in London, but where I’m lacking in quantity I’m blessed with quality. It never ceases to amaze me though how difficult it is for five girls to co-ordinate a monthly drinks and dinner meet-up. No fewer than 20 emails are exchanged over the course of a week, or even two! And by the time we land on a date that works for babysitters, project deadlines, travel and other halves, we’re all simply aching for a good catch up.

Then there’s the expense. Thousands of Londoners are pursuing careers in IT, finance, telecoms and insurance in order to pay the bills while their sliding doors persona is upholstering furniture, painting landscapes and growing organic vegetables.

What with all this busy-ness and the need to make ends meet, the creative outlet can become a little blocked. At The Designer Den, you can get up close and personal with the artisans who handcraft tiles and rugs using only natural materials and centuries old techniques. Our design your own journey allows you to create your bespoke product by choosing your pattern, colour combination and size to best reflect your personal preferences and suit your home surroundings.

We may not be designing for a living, but we’re designing for life.

Which shade of blue would you choose?

Which shade of blue would you choose?

Musings on our trampoline cement and marble tile design

TilesLinda Benjamin

Working from the common space of a glass encased office block in west London, I spotted one of our seven tile designs on a cushion and for a moment lost myself studying the geometry and interplay of shapes.

The trampoline is the stretched square shape that results from the circle that results from the arrangement of four oval shapes. To my senses, the design triggers an automatic feeling of pleasure causing the corners of my mouth to upturn into a subtle smile. I breathe out and relax into the repeated pattern.  

The Designer Den brings you handmoulded trampoline design tiles from our Portuguese artisan partners, using locally sourced crushed marble air dried on a base of cement.

The hard wearing surface of the tiles takes on a beautiful sheen over time as the natural properties of the marble settle down in harmony with the design they embody, giving everlasting pleasure to their beholders.  

View our curated collection or choose your own colours. For more information, contact Linda and Maria at

a tile from our trampoline design 

a tile from our trampoline design 

the inspiring cushions

the inspiring cushions

A place called home

Maria Huse

Making a home truly feel like it is yours is harder than I thought. After moving to London 5 years ago I have had four homes, most of which had a feeling of impermanence about them. You know what I mean - the feeling that you should, perhaps, hang up another picture or find some new curtains or brighten up the place with something or another, for example as my mother would suggest, a throw, but not really feeling as though it is worth the time and effort before migrating somewhere new. London somehow has that feeling about it, always being in flux, getting to know someone, making a connection and then realising that they are moving home to the Netherlands or to Brazil or to Manchester. Everyone always being on the way somewhere else, in a rush.

Moving to suburbia, to a house, with an actual garden, was therefore something of a shock. I grew up in a house with a garden and have vague memories of having to weed and cut the grass, but I have forgotten any useful information about how to keep a garden looking vaguely like the house it belongs to is inhabited. And the house itself for a long time looked impersonal, a bit empty, like people lived there but did not plan to stay. And I am talking about a living room covered in a few inches of baby toys, so by impersonal I do not mean clinical. Just lacking in anything other than basic, modern taste. Nothing that stands out or makes a statement. And finding those things, if it is a quirky book I like that I choose to display or a painting that even for an instant takes me out of myself are exactly the thing a house needs to feel as though the people there are planning to be there, to lay down roots, to make it a home. Perhaps not for ever, it is London after all, but for long enough to make it their own.

Introducing the Designer Den

Maria Huse

In December 2015 Linda was on honeymoon in Argentina and fell in love. Luckily for her husband another man was not the source of passion, but some beautiful rugs that she immediately wanted to have in her home. They were not just colourful and unusual, but came with a fantastically rich history of the people and places who have been hand weaving them for hundreds of years. Similarly in the Alentejo region in Portugal she came across vibrant crushed marble tiles made by hand in traditional patterns that become more beautiful with wear, not less. 

The world needs more products like this. Products with a rich heritage, that are modern, yet based on designs and techniques going back generations. You will find no factory-made products in the Designer´s Den; nothing mass-made. Many great products are made in factories, but that is not what we want to introduce you to. We belive that having something handmade, unique, bespoke, created just for you - makes a home just that; a home, a place where you can make your mark and extend your imagination. 

Early mid-life crisis? Do an MBA

Maria Huse

Linda and I have a lot of odd similarities. We both have Irish mothers; in Linda´s case this is not too peculiar since she is, in fact, Irish, but I am born and raised on a small island off the west coast of Norway. We both danced ballet when we were young. I very badly for a year when I was six, mainly to acquire a pink tutu, Linda pretty seriously, even considering a career in dance. We both at some point had an early mid-life crisis resulting in us doing an MBA. An MBA is an excellent cure for this. Not necessarily for what it teaches or any career-altering opportunities it gives, but for me, it was the possibility to press pause and spend a year talking about all the things you would like to do. To take classes without worrying about the grades, but just because they sound interesting. To have a whole heap of people presented to you that will be your friends, at least for that year. We have had that before, when we were actually students the first time around, but as they say, “youth is wasted on the young”. Just before going I wrote this, which sums up what I was thinking at the time:

September 2010

Every story begins at the point where another one ends. Or if not exactly ends - politely pauses for a moment to let another one enter the conversation. There are all the contours of a shaky start; the discarded wine glasses on the table catching the early morning light; the alarm clock being stopped before it began because its owner was just watching the seconds count down to the appointed hour; the silent dressing and brushing of teeth; the zip being pulled on the suitcase after the last items are in; the key turning in the lock. And then all is silent again. 

Although actually this is not the beginning at all. The beginning, the very beginning of the idea of leaving the country to take an MBA in Cambridge began a year earlier, when I was attending a particularly pointless course in Dublin. It was blowing hailstones and I had, as usual, not heeded my mother`s advice about packing for autumn in Ireland. I was running along the pavement on my way to Grafton Street when the thought suddenly struck me; “What I do feels utterly pointless.” I wanted an escape, an adventure, a break from the rut I felt my life had become when going to a dull course in Dublin actually was a welcome break from office life. Most sane people would probably have started an affair, snorted a line of cocaine, bought a new outfit, booked a one-way ticket to Bali, or even learned to golf. My chosen fix was none of these, but to spend a year in an utterly fascinating and fantastic place, a perfect setting for my beloved BBC countryside crime-scenes; Cambridge, UK. This of course came at a price: Taking an MBA. 

Of course this makes me sound rather frivolous in some ways. Taking an MBA just to live in Cambridge? Or course that is not the case; I don`t just want to live in Cambridge – I want to study there, live in a college, carry around books with a sense of purpose, live and breathe the traditions. Perhaps I am not, unfortunately, a great leader in the making, nor have I a Google up my sleeve ready to unleash on the world in a year`s time. I am, instead, wildly and deeply in love with the idea of Cambridge itself. I hope that living there for a year and studying for an MBA will be a great experience, perhaps the greatest of my life so far. And I hope to be physically allowed on the plane with the insane amount of clothes, shoes, and “stuff I don`t trust them to have in the UK.” I feel I need to look the part.