Design Lab with Bert & May

Every season we partner with one of the best and brightest designers or influencers in the industry. For our AW17 collection, we have teamed up with artisan tile specialists Bert & May who are committed to using only the finest and most exceptional materials and combine this with their fine craftsmanship.

The Bert & May name is synonymous with a raw, yet refined, aesthetic. They have designed two patterned fabrics, both available in two colourways, for this season’s Design Lab collaboration which can be upholstered on our range of sofas, armchairs and beds.


The Bert & May story so far… 

Bert & May’s story started in Spain in 2004, when founder Lee Thornley left London to set up a reclaimed tile company in Andalusia. Just four years later, Lee opened his award-winning boutique hotel, Casa La Siesta, in Cadiz. As a result of his painstaking work on the interior of this sensitively restored country house, Lee found that he had a natural talent for sourcing reclaimed materials and rare antique fittings. He also discovered that this architectural salvage was much sought after by interior architects and designers and from here, a new project was born.

What began as an online venture selling reclaimed materials took on a new life in 2010 when Lee met Juan Menacho, owner of a small family business that had specialised in making artisan encaustic tiles using traditional handmade techniques. The pair decided that the future of the company lay in making their own vintage-inspired designs, so the family factory reopened and production began.

Rebranded and officially launched as Bert & May in September 2013, the company has evolved into a specialist supplier of handmade artisan tiles, engineered wood, natural pigment paints, and most recently, furniture, bathroom fittings and kitchens. In September 2013, Bert & May opened their first London showroom and retail space on Vyner Street in Bethnal Green, an atmospheric former warehouse situated on the Regent’s Canal. The studio brings together the entire Bert & May collection and offers a bespoke design service for interiors projects of any size.

Collaborating with Bert & May, with their wonderfully creative background, was an easy decision for us here at and we loved catching up with their founder, Lee Thornley, recently where we discussed all you need to know about our Design Lab collaboration for Autumn / Winter ’17.

Founder of Bert & May, Lee Thornley, started Bert & May in 2013 where it has gone from strength to strength


So, Lee, what do Bert & May specialise in?

We are experts in encaustic and glazed tiles, fabrics, basins, taps, bespoke kitchens and paints. All of the colourways across the tiles, fabric, paints, and now even our basins, are derived from our natural colour palette established initially from our tiles.

Peggy armchair in Bert & May Asquith Dark Room Black and Natural, £1,140 and Betty armchair in Bert & May Santona Dark Room Black and Natural, £940

How would you describe the Bert & May style?

We have a relaxed, timeless and effortless style but with a design edge. We’re not lead by fashion but by an aesthetic and our passion for raw materials.

What did you want to bring to with your designs?

We are passionate about surface finishes and the feel of them, their authenticity and the ambience they create. To design a fabric for, for the most used item in the home, is a fantastic opportunity.  The ethos around comfort and style was also a perfect match for us.


Peggy armchair in Bert & May Asquith Dark Room Black and Natural, £1,140 and Betty armchair in Bert & May Santona Dark Room Black and Natural, £940

What kind of printing technique has been used to make the unique fabrics?

We have used a kind of printing called rotary screen printing, where the print is transferred using a cylindrical screen that rotates in a fixed position rather than a flat screen. It is raised and lowered over the same print location to create the design. All of the fabrics have been developed and made here in the UK too.

How has your personal style influenced the two prints/ two colourways you have designed for us?

The designs have come from two classic Bert and May tiles; the Asquith and the Santona. The Asquith is our subtle geometric tile which translates well onto fabric in neutral tones,  allowing the pattern to be the hero. The Santona is a more traditional pattern and looks striking in the darker colours of navy and black. Both of these patterns feature in my own home in soft furnishings. I think they give a design lead look that’s relaxed, making them ideal for the home.

Percy armchair in Bert & May Asquith Black and Navy, £1,190and our Fingal armchair in Bert & May Santona Black and Navy, £1,340

How did you decide on the colours?

Black and neutral colours will always work for so many, they’re incredibly versatile and allows the pattern to really stand out and be the star. The navy and black colourways work for a more traditional pattern, which will suit a more contemporary styled home – making both patterns available to a wide variety of home styles.

We considered other c0lours but we wanted the patterns and colours to have longevity. The black and the linen will always stand the test time but still also make a strong design statement, whereas we love the blue and black combination due to them both being strong, bold colours. They make a subtle statement but without shouting. I have these colours in my living room mixed with raw materials and washed finishes, which is incredibly easy to live with and feels very contemporary.

There’s been love for dark colours in the interior industry for some time and we think these are here to stay, the blue and black combination works so well with other dark wall colours but equally, it can really pop against a lighter backdrop.

Lily three seat sofa in Bert and May Asquith Dark Room Black and Natural, £1,990 and Lily armchair in Bert and May Asquith Black and Navy, £940

How would you style them in your own home?

Pattern chairs on natural wood flooring always work very well or against muted tiles which create a backdrop for them to be seen. I’d also add a soft Berber style rug and work within a simple colour palette to complete the look.

Incorporating pattern into a home can be daunting – w
hat tips can you give to someone who wants start using them?

Don’t be afraid to try it!

Create a mood board, gather clippings, fabric samples and paints and experiment with them. Our aesthetic is somewhat pared back. We don’t let the patterns fight or shout, we let them breathe and compliment each other, working from the same colour palette allows this to happen naturally.  Try combining raw natural materials alongside the patterns to create a relaxing comfortable environment.

Discover the Bert & May fabrics and order your free swatches today

For an exclusive 15%* off Bert & May products use code sofa15 at

Keep up to date with Bert & May on Instagram at @bertandmay and at @sofadotcom

  • On 2017-09-22By admin

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