Makers & Finders

Makers & Finders

Sculptures

Made by an independent family-run business in Yorkshire, Bert & May’s concrete basins are the work of a skilled furniture maker with years of training in restoration and bespoke design. Their smooth, sculptural form is all down to the original wooden bowl that’s used to create the basin moulds, which is made by hand on a lathe and can take up to two weeks to perfect.

The basins are made from a mix containing high-density concrete, finely crushed granite and the same Spanish-made natural pigments found in our tiles. Working out the proportions of this mix requires skill and patience, and the durability of each basin depends on getting it right. The mix is hand poured into a mould and left for 24 hours. Once set, the basin is then air dried in carefully controlled conditions for seven days before it can be released. Each piece is then buffed to remove any imperfections and finished with a water-based sealant, chosen for its low sheen and natural look. It can take up to three weeks from pouring the concrete to perfecting the finished product.

Inspired by a continuing passion for naturally beautiful raw materials and expert workmanship, the basin collection currently includes three designs: Limestone, Brighton Stone and Portland Stone. All three share the same tactile quality and seamless form.

Tile Makers

 

Our artisan encaustic tiles are designed in house and handmade by a fourth-generation family business near Cádiz in Southern Spain. The tile factory, which specialises in traditional techniques, had closed down when Bert & May founder Lee Thornley discovered it. It reopened in 2010 to produce our designs.

The tiles are made from a mixture of sand, cement and natural pigments. We also add crushed marble for enhanced durability and a distinctive raw finish. They are created using a bespoke metal mould, which is made specifically for each design.

The coloured liquid cement is hand poured into the sections of the mould to create our distinctive patterns. The tiles are then manually pressed with a hydraulic press, dipped in water for four to five hours and left to dry in the Spanish sun for two weeks. Each tile takes around five minutes to make, and one craftsman typically produces a maximum of 150 tiles a day. Once dry, the finished tiles are packed and sent to our yard in Yorkshire.

Our glazed tiles are made in Spain using exactly the same process, then head to Stoke-on-Trent to be finished by a small independent company specialising in ceramic design and decoration. The tiles are screen glazed and hand brushed to achieve the desired colour base and subtle lustre.

Metalwork

Studio-Ore’s story began in 2014 with founder Daniel Lee’s search for the perfect taps. After noticing a trend for simple, unlacquered brass bathroom fittings in LA, the engineer returned home to realise there was no such thing available to buy in the UK – so he decided to design his own.

Three years later, Studio-Ore now produce a coveted collection of sleek, industrial inspired designs in solid brass. All are manufactured, finished and assembled by hand in Kent and Sussex. Each piece is sanded back and polished up to create a product that’s designed to age beautifully. This labour intensive process is key to the handcrafted feel that makes Studio-Ore’s products so unique.

As well as unlacquered brass, the studio has launched a range of stove-enamelled taps in dramatic black. These are painted and heat treated to achieve a highly durable finish. The collection features the same solid brass construction and timeless utilitarian appeal.

"I like to think of the manufacturing process as a craft that takes time and care," says Daniel. "We don’t cut corners to make things cheaper to produce because it impacts on design and functionality. This is not a robotic production line, but a team of people who want to create a beautiful hand finished product."

Textiles

Bert & May fabrics are woven in Scotland, printed in Cheshire and finished on the Scottish borders. The whole process takes approximately eight weeks to complete.

We use the finest raw cotton and linen. Our flax yarn is grown and spun in Western Europe using a blend of crops harvested over three years. This enables us to produce the softest possible cloth.

Woven by a family-run Scottish fabric mill dating back to the early 1900s, our cloth benefits from four generations of expertise. The raw cloth then heads to our Cheshire-based fabric printers, who have been leading the field in specialist printing techniques for almost 40 years. Here, our designs are hand printed onto the cloth using large flat silk screens. We favour matt pigments to compliment the natural texture of the linen.

Like everything in the Bert & May collection, our fabric is designed to improve with age. To help the natural ageing process, the fabric is tumbled during the finishing process, using moisture and force to help soften the cloth. Every length of fabric is then checked by hand to make sure it’s just as it should be.

In keeping with the unpolished feel of the Bert & May aesthetic, our cloth features a subtle distressed finish. This lived-in look, combined with provenance and process, is what makes our fabric collection so unique.

Master Paintmakers

Bert & May paints are made by an expert London-based paint maker, specialising in traditional paint finishes. Making the colours is an art in itself. Our subtle and versatile palette is the work of a highly skilled colourist and is inspired by the natural pigments found in our Spanish-made tiles.

All the raw materials – such as organic resins, chalk and lime – are natural where possible and come from Italy. The paints are mixed by hand and made to an exact formula, which guarantees consistency across all products.

Our paints are available in three formulas: eco emulsion, limewash and oil eggshell.

Our eggshell is a high-quality, oil-based paint for woodwork, which has a satin-sheen finish, while our limewash is a durable coating for walls that allows them to ‘breathe’.

Bert & May limewash paints create a soft and mottled effect, with character and depth that modern day paints struggle to achieve. Unlike other limewashes on the market, ours is a fully prepared product is easy to apply. It is non-toxic and has no odour.

Our eco emulsion is a water-based, breathable, matt paint for interior and exterior walls. It has a chalky, velvety finish and is free from solvents and all their components. It offers exceptional coverage and can be wiped clean.

Woodmakers

Our timber is produced in rural Yorkshire by a family-run business who have worked with wood for over 30 years. The company specialises in reclaimed engineered wood. The original timber they work with comes from a wide range of sources, including old industrial and farm buildings from around the UK and Europe.

The reclaimed timber is de-nailed by hand, then cut, kilned and cold-pressed onto birch plywood. It is then machined with tongue and groove before being hand finished to create the desired patina. Engineering the wood improves the stability of timber by up to 80%, and has the added benefit of making it suitable for underfloor heating. The same craftspeople also produce our hand-aged engineered wood flooring, which is painstakingly hand treated with special finishes and techniques to give the new wood added warmth and character.

Finder

Lee Thornley is the creative mind behind Bert & May. A former barrister, Lee opened his award-winning hotel, Casa La Siesta, in Andalucia in Spain in 2008. While setting up the hotel Lee discovered his natural talent for sourcing beautiful old materials, from antique railings, doors, staircases, wood through to reclaimed tiles.

Unsurprisingly he was soon in demand from interior architects and designers. Lee began an online venture sourcing architectural salvage from his travels around Spain before going on to set up Bert & May.

Lee still turns up gorgeous vintage gems on his travels, many of which can be re-upholstered in our exclusive Bert & May fabrics.