Jun
28
2010

Meet Di – The Creative & Witty Owner Of Ghost Furniture

Whether this is your design style or not, pay attention to what what my friend Di has to say. She is one smart and playful cookie. And what  a fun life she lives! Residing in a 300-year old country home and on a regular basis hopping into her van and driving from the UK (!) to Paris to scout products for her business.

Di Overton is a witty and creative UK based designer who always inspires me and makes me laugh out loud. Yes, the blog world brought us together about a year ago (she is behind DesignersBlock which is the leading eclectic style blog in the UK) but I am so looking forward to meeting her in person.

This week Di is launching Concrete Ghost in collaboration with the very talented Kathy Dalwood. Concrete Ghost is a business line which is part of Di’s successful company Ghost Furniture.

I am pleased to be the first in the US with an exclusive on this!

Di,  please describe your design style for us.

Eclectic, there’s so many good styles out there I suppose I couldn’t choose one so eclectic it is.
Where do you get your inspiration from?

Inspiration comes from everything around me. The strangest things can inspire it’s a hard thing to explain. On the Ghost Furniture website there is an inspirations page I put together to show people how some of my ideas came to fruition. I have even been inspired to create a table by passing one of the lions in Trafalgar Square. My advice to anyone searching for inspiration is LOOK UP and never have a closed mind.

(View from Di’s cottage. “Open your eyes, smell the roses”).

What prompted you to get started in the design world?

I have been designing since the late 1970s. I used to be a knitwear designer in the 1980s and had a very successful business selling high end designer knitwear then got dragged into the world of advertising and at that time created wheredidyoubuythat.com which I subsequently sold to Bodie and Fou. In 2006 my partner Harvey and I decided we had had enough and semi-retired to our cottage in the country and it seemed the perfect time to start designing again instead of selling other people’s designs. It’s in the blood I suppose.

Many of us know about your fabulous and oh-so witty blog. Tell us more about your company.

Ghost Furniture, so called because we are bringing things back from the dead, employs only two people – myself and my partner Harvey. He writes the website, helps with the design ideas (sometimes he stops me being too wacky) and more importantly carrying heavy stuff around for me. We do all the photography, copy writing, web optimization etc etc ourselves, the advantage of having been in advertising for so long.  As we decided to semi-retire we are determined to keep it personal.

Splendid Willow’s comment: This is why I love this girl! Look at her Marie Antoinette chair – and what inspired her.


How lovely and fun isn’t this tasseled bedside table!

And look at this framed spoon. How unexpected and playful!

Our youngest daughter Charlotte lives in Paris and we visit often and trawl the brocantes and flea markets there. She is our scout as she scours the Paris area for the best brocantes that will be held when we are visiting. The whole set up is perfect. We travel there with our van and come back loaded to the gunnels. We deliver most of the larger pieces to our customers as this gives us a chance to meet them and we get to see parts of the UK we may never have visited otherwise. A pretty perfect way to run a business I think.
So what new do you have cooking?  Please share with us!

Well this has been kept a deep dark secret for a long time
now but at last it can be revealed Concrete Ghost. Late 2009 both Kathy Dalwood and myself discovered that we had both been admiring each other’s work from afar, as far as London, where Kathy lives, is from the wilds of Northumberland where I live. As you will already know Kathy creates fabulous concrete sculptures from flea market finds and I asked her to create something I could apply to my Ghost pieces.
As is the case in most collaborations things evolved and we have ended up with an amazing collection of sculpted tassels made from heavily detailed vintage originals finished with vintage mercier and passementerie from the alleyways of Paris. Some pieces have been applied to furniture some are stand alone pieces and we even created a range of curtain tie backs. We are both very excited about it as we know that no one has ever attempted such a collaboration. As Kathy cleverly puts it – “The raw quality of the monochrome concrete is an intriguing contrast to the luxurious colored cords and delicate trimmings”.

Splendid Willow’s comment: People, this  tassel is made of concrete! A sculpture!

These mini-sculptures, each individually cast by hand, are concrete casts of real silk tassels with all the intricate detail of the original.

Look at this free standing concrete tassel sculpture. Splendid!
What part of design really gets your heart racing?

The best part is applying the first coat of paint which is the start of the transformation. When I buy the pieces for Ghost they are deceased, as we say – bringing quality furniture back from the dead and making it hauntingly beautiful – I would never think of touching a piece that still has some life in it.


(Flea market find in the process of being transformed into something lovely and fun).

Do you have a signature design feature/technique or object?

My signature design feature is the truly matte finish of the paints I use. These paints are specially mixed for us in Paris. Applying them to the pieces is like applying fresh cream. If I told you the source I would have to kill you :) It has taken years to find the right mix and the right colors and I am in love with it, sad but true – Di Overton is in love with her paint.

Describe what you see as major design influences and trends right now? Do you even pay attention to them?

Never, never, never. It is the road to ruin. Imagine how much stuff I would be left with if I followed trends they are in and out like a fiddler’s elbow.

What’ your favorite design piece at home?  The one you’d take with you before all others.

Believe it or believe it not if I had a fire in my home and I could grab one item before I left it would be my Dustpan and Brush. I obtained this set when I owned wheredidyoubuythat.com, designed and made by Normann Copenhagen. Never does a crumb go under it and the brush goes into the tightest of corners. When we had our cottage extended the builders asked for a dustpan and brush and when I passed them this set they laughed but proceeded to use it for months and it survived their abuse. It’s washable, never warps and I just love it. Innovative design like this blows my mind.
What’s your favorite wall color?

Stone. If you want to add color put something colorful on it. It is so versatile and clashes with nothing. A close second is black which if used in the right way can be stunning. I have black walls in my kitchen but the cupboards are stone and bronze which puts the wall in the background and it also can carry any color placed on it.


Describe the house you fantasize living in. (Or are you already living in it?)

Monika, I am in it!  I visited some rich friends recently and was sitting in their orangery thinking how I could actually fit my cottage into it. We were looking out onto their huge garden and I thought – how the hell do they manage that. We used to live in a huge town house in the city so I’ve been there and done that and truly appreciate that fact but I look out every morning and evening and see a changing landscape that most people would give their eye teeth for. My cottage is over 300 years old maybe older and has a fascinating history and it works for me, I cannot ask for more.


Finally, what is on top of your design wish list?

Nothing! When I owned wheredidyoubuythat.com I had access to the best in design world and took advantage of it so without sounding smug I don’t really need anything else.

Thank you Dear Di! I so enjoy your company and your unique style!

I think that interior design at times can be boring and predictable. (Yes, really!). Your playfulness is such a relief! And so is Kathy’s! You both inspire me to add much more personal spunk and beauty to my own home!


Image, Paris, via Flickr. All other images are the rights of  Di Overton.

Written by Splendid Willow in: In The Spotlight |

25 Comments

  • Greet says:

    Hi Monika,
    Hope you had a nice weekend!
    The Ghost Furniture is wonderful! Love that pink bedtable and the tassels!!!! Oh my goodness! So elegant!
    xx
    Greet

  • Charlotta says:

    Hello my dear. Hope the blog-free week was nice and relaxing. We’ve needless to say missed you heaps! x

    I love your ‘In the spotlight’ interviews – they are always so well structured, written and incredibly interesting.
    Di is fantastic and I enjoy her blog too. It was so nice to get to know her better and to get such a personal and rich picture of her life and inspirations.

    Thank you to both of you for this. I truly enjoyed every word.

    Hugs
    xx C

  • Tina says:

    A very inspiring and interesting interview!
    Love/
    Tina

  • That Marie Antoinette chair is stunning and what a concept for those tassles. So refreshing to see such fun and new ideas. A true artist.

    Great feature, Mon.

  • Sounds really interesting. I can’t wait to check it out. And I love that chair!

  • koralee says:

    Oh my goodness!!!!! Thank you so much for this today..she is amazing! I adore her style and what a fun girl! I want her life!
    I must go read a second time…love the images today.Have a good week my friend. xoxo

  • Courtney says:

    This was such a lovely interview, Monika! Wow, Di’s cottage and company are both so wonderful. Thank you so much for this introduction!

  • Carole says:

    Oh, Mon. Such a great post and interview. I love the furniture and Di’s blog but its so nice to see and hear the designers own words.
    Have a great week.
    Carole x

  • How fun – love that mini chandelier scone – although it looks like it may need a smaller light bulb…

    Hope you had a great weekend!
    xo

  • Di Overton says:

    Hi Mon
    Thanks so much for putting me In The Spotlight. I love the comment about the light bulb needing to be smaller – DOWNSIDE OF LIVING IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, THE AVAILABILITY OF SMALL, LOW ENERGY LIGHT BULBS IS LIMITED :) and for Koralee who wants my life – will she pay my bills also :)
    Seriously though, these comments are a tonic.
    You have all made a tired woman very happy.
    Hugs
    Di
    xo

  • KMD Atelier says:

    I love your “In The Spotlights”. The concrete tassels…truly inspired. I love the whimsy of Di’s designs. Wonderful.

    Happy Monday,

    Kari

  • Rambles with Reese says:

    Great interview Monika! Di sounds like a fantastic and fascinating woman!

    I hope you had a lovely weekend!

  • Delishhh says:

    I hope that one day i can answer the way Di did in her interview to you with this statement – “Describe the house you fantasize living in. (Or are you already living in it?). Monika, I am in it!”

    Splendid Willow’s comment: I know that you are dear! And I can’t wait to see it on Wednesday! Prime spot in Seattle – you lucky girl!

  • liza says:

    Wow – another really, really good interview, Monika. Thank you to both of you.

    And Di’s cottage is fantastic (there is NO home remotely that old here!)

  • Love this post and interview, great blog!
    The Design DIsh

  • Hi Monika! Back from Savannah with a lot of inspiration and decided to pop over and see what you’d been up to in my absence. Wow, what a fabulous interview! I just love that Di is so content in her lovely cottage. Although I don’t live in the house of my dreams {yet!}, I DO know that I don’t lust after anything bigger than what I have; in fact, I’d go smaller ~ keep things simple. I just adore the picture of her kitchen — such smart colors and it is elegant yet whimsical at the same time. I hope that her new venture equals the success of her past ones…. I think it is just great that you connected with such a neat lady and thank you for the introduction : ) !! xx Suzanne

  • Di is just delightful! So refreshing!I love her take on trends. They make me crazy too. You just keep introducing me to the most inspiring people. Thanks. Mona

  • Julie says:

    Hi Monika
    Well what a lovely post.. Di is certainly a high spirited and a creative force.. So many things I love here.. but that little pink table… truly delightful.. the shape is just adorable…

    Now that cottage by the sea!! OH PLEASE!! Hope you are well.. and have a wonderful week!! xxx Julie

  • Thanks so much for putting Di in the Spotlight! Isn’t she such a delight, smart, witty, gorgeous and so very talented. Added to that is just how wonderfully NICE she is!

    I love Di, her website and new range of pieces are smashing {she’d probably use a word like that} And yes, like Koralee, I’d love to live her life, and I’d even pay her bills.xo Lidy

  • Mia says:

    She seems to be a very colourful and cool person and I love her house! And Monica, your posts are always so ambitious and full of substance and inspiration!
    Kram Mia

  • Willow Decor says:

    Mon,
    Oh the stone house- I do think I must have died and gone to heaven in that house! Beautiful! Great interview! Hope you are enjoying the summer, sis!
    xx-Gina

  • The Zhush says:

    Wow! What an interview and what an artist. Di’s pieces are amazing…the whole ghost concept is so fab, in awe of this talented lady!

  • Oh, how fun – what an interesting life she leads…! Such a free spirit. I get immense inspiration from people like Di. And her 300 year old cottage sounds like a dream.

    xoox,
    -maria

  • Karena says:

    This was one of the best profiles and interviews I have ever read. I adore Di and her newest project with Kathy Dalwood is incredible! Thank you!

    I hope you will join my designer giveaway from Pillow Mint.

    Karena
    Art by Karena

  • Lana says:

    Great interview Mon, I love those tassels, so clever.
    Wishing you a fantastic weekend with your family.

    ps Think you’ll like my post for today, it totally relates to your comment but I planned it well before your comment! So strange how things work out like that :)

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