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Ben Pentreath Interior and Architectural Designer

A true exponent of English style, we were delighted here at Alternative Flooring when Ben Pentreath agreed to colloborate with us on our Quirky B patterned carpet collection. 

Ben Pentreath is not only a shopkeeper, author and journalist, but one of the UK's leading interior and architectural designers.

From his two design studios in the heart of Bloomsbury, he works on a huge variety of buildings, ranging from large-scale urban master plans to large and small individual private houses. He is renowned for his fresh approach to classical and traditional design by injecting strong use of colour and pattern to his interiors.  

Pentreath & Hall, which Ben co-founded with Artist and Maker Bridie Hall, is one of the liveliest and most written about small shops in London.

"I love pattern. A world without pattern is almost unnatural - I'm the sort of person who finds patterns even in the ocean waves or the clouds, so perhaps it's no surprise that I like to pack my interiors with pattern."

"Patterns give life, colour, richness and excitement to a room - and well used on the floor, they have the ability to ground a scheme in the way that a plain neutral carpet just can't quite touch."

A few years ago, over at Pentreath & Hall, Ben and Bridie began to think about designs for a new range of wrapping paper. And for inspiration, they had both (separately) turned to one of the books that Ben uses a lot in their architectural practice – Batty Langley’s Treasury of Designs, published in 1740. They were both drawn to a similar series of engraved patterns for stone floors that Langley had designed, using three or four different colours of marble or stone to create a rich effect of three-dimensional tromp-l’oeil. 

Bridie and Ben selected four of Batty’s patterns and went through a long process of manipulating and colouring the designs. Then they started production – finding great English printers, selecting weights of paper, running colour tests, and finally agreeing to go to print. 

When we approached Ben to collaborate with us and design a new range of patterned carpets, it didn’t take long to realise what he wanted to do. Batty’s patterns had come off the floor, and he wanted to put them straight back but in a range of vividly coloured British wools.  Ben decided on three of the Langley patterns and originally coloured each in four different colourways. His intention was to have each carpet to relate to one another – meaning, perhaps, that you could move from pattern to pattern in a project, but with a common unifying theme. Several of these had to be worked on a few times until Ben was happy that the balance of colours was just right.  Some patterns we wanted to be very rich (with Ben rejoicing in the fact that we had some toffee and brown colours that are really 70s in feel…); other colours he wanted to be much more neutral.

"The carpet designs for Alternative are strong, of course, so I would tend to combine them with neutral walls and curtains; I would bring in contrasting patterns in fabrics, cushions and textiles. The scale of the pattern can take big pieces of furniture and rich accent colours."

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