Today we’re delighted to announce a fantastic giveaway with a unique brand who we’re sure many of you are already familiar with (especially if you’ve been shopping online for furniture recently). Founded in 2010, URBANARA quickly earned a reputation for quality products, curating long-lasting, beautifully made home accessories and textiles, sourced directly from independent producers all over the world. Sticking to the ethos that ‘good value’ is synonymous with ‘good quality’, they combine the finest natural materials with traditional crafting techniques to produce homewares that are both affordable and made to last.
As our avid readers will know, we’re big fans of all things home and it was with pleasure that we had the opportunity to interview URBANARA lead buyer, Stefanie Itzen to find out more about the brand, their homewares, and their story.
Tell us about the concept behind URBANARA, Stefanie?
The concept is very straightforward: we believe that quality is incredibly important, especially in the home. Unlike so many other homewares brands who produce fast and cheap, we use only natural materials to produce high-quality homewares made to last – really last. We work with some of the world’s best makers to create our collections. Each piece is designed not just to be durable, but to have an enduring design. No part of our products are disposable: they’re the things you keep forever.
Where did the idea stem from?
It actually started when our founders were looking to furnish their first flats. The options for cheap, poorly-made items were abundant. A certain, well-known Swedish homeware retailer’s pieces especially were in everyone’s home and just didn’t feel cosy! But when it came to quality pieces that didn’t come with a designer label price-tag, they kept drawing blanks. So they just did it themselves.
We understand you often travel to find the best makers for your products, what’s your most memorable experience been?
For me, it was the first time I visited India and saw how our rugs are made there. It’s an incredible handmade technique. So much attention and care goes into each piece and it’s just a really impressive thing to witness. I’ve seen a lot of other production techniques in my day, most of which is done by machine. This was completely different. It was fascinating to see how many people contribute to one rug: in total there are between seven to eight production stages, from tufting and weaving to fixing the backside and shearing the rug. The workers looked incredibly proud of what they were doing, it’s a completely handcrafted process. All our rugs are actually made in India according to these old techniques. The Ambassa rug is a particularly good example because it’s made using a hand-knotting technique that’s literally generations old.
Do you have a favourite URBANARA product?
It’d have to be the Lousa, one of our most luxurious bed linen collections – perhaps it’s because I designed it myself?! No, but in all seriousness, it’s simply an outstanding fabric. It’s made with a washed linen, so was washed before being sewn. This process gives it an unbelievably soft finish, it feels almost like cashmere – I kid you not. The first time I felt the fabric I fell in love and needed to make something with it. Besides that, the Lousa has really sweet detailing in the woven pattern and classic-inspired elements such as the fabric covered buttons. Buttons like that are a bed linen classic, something my grandma had, which you don’t see too often in modern collections but we wanted to bring back.
Tell us about the Katsura vases that we have to giveaway today…
Their design is inspired by the Japanese origami technique and we wanted them to reflect this traditional handcrafting skill. The purpose of a vase is to underline the natural beauty of the flowers in it so we created something which is unique but also discreet. The Katsura keeps the main focus on the flowers without being boring. It comes back to what we aim for all of our products: to create a timeless, effortless look, just like simple white folds of origami might be.
What do you have in store for the future?
We’re really excited for our autumn/winter collection, especially our new bed linen in a chinoiserie-inspired design. It’s a key piece for the season, with a delicate, intricate floral pattern on a dark background. Chinoiserie is a trend this season, and in this collection and as always, we aim to play on this trend but in a very elegant way. This allows our products to last far longer than simply a trend piece; we’re not about ‘fast-fashion’, it’s got to be something you’ll love for a lifetime.
Besides that, our winter collection will be quite dark this season, with a lot of cosy fabrics like cotton flannel. We’re also extending our marble accessories to include dark greens and pinks. For the first time ever(!), we’re launching a small nightwear collection in organic cotton, and extending our sell-out cashmere loungewear collection, too, which is really exciting!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We’re now working on spring/summer 2018, and bringing in more outdoor products, such as picnic blankets and lanterns. Something which we hope you’ll love in particular is that we’re extending our vases collection – so that’s something to look forward to!
WIN two vases from the URBANARA Katsura collection!
For those of you who have been admiring the gorgeous origami-inspired Katsura vases pictured, here’s your chance to bag the pair.
To enter, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address and the correct answer to this question: Where did the ancient art of origami originate? One lucky winner will be selected at random from all correct entries and contacted at the end of September. All entrants will be added to the McQueens mailing list.