Bert & May launched in 2004 when co-founder and director Lee Thornley discovered a passion for Spanish architectural salvage, and a gap in the UK market. Thornley, a former barrister, had relocated to Spain to open a small hotel, Casa la Siesta, in rural Andalucia, which he outfitted with finds from the rastros (salvage yards) of southern Spain. He soon found that his discoveries were “much in demand from interior architects and designers,” which inspired him to start offering salvaged goods for sale online.
Fast forward to 2016: Bert & May is now located in an unassuming red-brick warehouse halfway between east London’s Victoria Park and Islington on the Regent’s canal. Customers have the opportunity to customize their purchases from kitchen work surfaces to patterned backsplashes, in a way that achieves a cohesive, enduring design. Join us for a tour.
Photography courtesy of Bert and May.
Above: The Bert & May showroom overlooking the Regent’s canal at 67 Vyner Street; the interior of the cavernous showroom retains a rugged industrial look. The expanding eclecticism of Bert and May is held together by Thornley’s commitment to honest, raw materials and timeless design.
Above: The company’s newest line is a collection of bespoke, fully customized kitchens. The units have been designed in collaboration with Red Deer architects and start at around £20,000 ($29,000). Simplistic forms and generous proportions showcase a palette of raw, tactile materials: ply, brushed brass, and reclaimed timber. Here, birch-faced ply has been color washed in Plum; the countertop surface is cast concrete in Beach White; the tiles are cherry and milk Alapardo (£130, or $189, per square meter). The Belgian Black Oak Table and Stackable chairs are made in London from Bert & May reclaimed timber and are also available to purchase.
Above: The fittings, by Sussex-based Studio Ore (from £605, or $876), are made from solid, hand-polished brass and have been left unlacquered to acquire a patina over time.
Above: Besides tiles, timber, taps, paint, and bespoke kitchens, Bert & May also sells a range of Cast Concrete Bathroom Basins available in 28 colorways (from £950, or $1,375).
Above: Thornley also offers new, vintage-inspired tiles made using natural pigments and traditional handmade techniques. The range includes patterned cement tiles, such as this chickenwire Daroca Volcano design (£185 or $268 per square meter), as well as hexagonal, herringbone and glazed examples. All come in a choice of core colorways: black, gray, pink, green, blue, or white.
Above: Those same natural pigments can be found in the Bert and May Paint Range, which has been designed to complement the tiles. A total of 55 colors (seen here in Pangola Grass) formed of 11 palettes evoke the Mediterranean and Morocco. All are available in either lime wash or eco emulsion, from £23.99 ($35 USD) a liter.
Above: Handmade ceramics for Bert & May by the Hackney-based Slovenian ceramicist Kana (shown above), Garden Pods, mirrors, “hot-boxes,” and hand-poured scented candles are all part of the Bert and May collection. A range of customizable soft-furnishings is also taking shape. Thornley wants his customers to be able to match their choice of hand-dyed fabric with vintage armchairs sourced from mainland Europe.
Above: Anchored outside the showroom is a floating barge where the designers’ offerings are on full view. The matte black painted Bert & May barge is part showroom, part floating suite (it’s available to hire for barbecues and sleepovers).
See a bathroom outfitted with Studio Ore fixtures from Bert & May at Steal This Look: A London Bathroom Clad in Dinesen Wood.