London-based interior design studio Bergman & Mar has developed a reputation for designing unique, artisanal spaces for London’s sleekest new developments. The studio’s latest project, 101 on Cleveland, combines organic elements with brass detailing to bring organic luxury to Fitzrovia. LUX speaks to the founder, Petra Arko, about craftsmanship, storytelling, and the art of bringing a show apartment to life
1. Bergman & Mar is renowned among London’s leading property developers. How do you bring the show apartments you work on to life?
Our vision for every project is created by staging and storytelling. We immerse ourselves and understand the area, culture, space, and potential homeowners’ needs for each project. We love incorporating organic shapes, daring palettes, and unique textures into our schemes to provide personalised solutions for our clients that have a lasting impact. I still get excited when we walk into a new but very bare apartment: it’s like an empty shell. It’s wonderful to give it a soul and transform the space into a warm, welcoming home.
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2. Your latest project, 101 on Cleveland, draws clear inspiration from nature with its autumnal interiors. What was the thinking behind the palette?
Colour impacts the human mind and helps create ideas whilst generating certain emotions, so we always try to base our selection on that concept. The palette for the 101 on Cleveland project was carefully thought through to represent the diversity and history of the location. A selection of various finishes were combined to show a subtle mix of elegance that all contribute to the look and feel of the apartment. Brass detailing and organic elements flow throughout the entrance, living, dining and study spaces to create a sophisticated space that reflects the streets of Fitzrovia.
The live edge dining table is one of our favourite pieces. As you walk into the space, your eyes can’t help but be drawn to the walnut slab’s visual textures and organic edge, which gives a unique feel to the area. We discovered Martelo & Mo [who designed it] not too long ago. They’re a British-made studio run by a husband and wife with a passion for designing and creating functional, well-made furniture from sustainably sourced materials. We love their approach to creating handcrafted pieces of furniture made with their minds and hands that respect the integrity of materials while considering how they look and feel.
3. How does sustainability intersect with your design process, aesthetic and otherwise?
Longevity and sustainability in design is nothing new to Bergman & Mar: we are passionate about [these things] and strive to ingrain [them] in all of our projects. The change now is about making sustainable design attractive and stylish. We are moving away from purchasing off the shelf by investing in vintage, upcycled and bespoke furniture, looking to source those unique and iconic designs of the past and working with craftsmen and makers that are consciously sourcing and working with sustainable materials.
4. Bergman & Mar frequently draws together the work of established designers with that of emerging ones. Why is that important to you?
We work not only to support ethical and sustainable furniture, but also strive to recommend genuinely inspirational people with meaningful stories. We aim to source pieces our clients can keep for life and perhaps pass on to the next generation. The design should not be for single-use and should last forever; likewise, we want to uncover the makers that [have longevity], will be the next Jeanerette or Eames. Design that is within reach, and yet beautiful, long-lasting and iconic.
Something very magical happens when you find a beautiful workshop making genuinely unique, quality handmade products. The makers are modest, down-to-earth personalities that live and breathe their designs. We live to work with these individuals, share their stories, their struggles and wins.
5. How has your Slovenian heritage informed your design philosophy?
I grew up in Slovenia during socialism, where our unique geographic position nestled in the Alps (between Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia) meant that we benefited from rich cultural and design influences. In the small alpine town where we lived, the craftsman and makers were part of the community. Perhaps Fitzrovia’s colourful cultural history and home to British craftsmanship resonate with me in this sense. Our vision [when we began the studio] was to create a space that was a combination of cultures coming together: we sourced items from various artisans and local suppliers to provide a curated list of re-editioned and future icons that resulted in a unique apartment space.
6. What’s the story behind the name Bergman & Mar?
Slovenia is nestled between the Adriatic Sea and the Julian Alps, so Bergman (‘mountain man’) and Mar (‘sea’). Mar is also part of my mother’s maternal name. The name Bergman & Mar is also a somewhat sentimental reference to my childhood and the influence my dad had on my creativity. My dad is a film director, and his book about Ingmar Bergman sat on our piano when I was growing up.
Find out more: bergmanandmar.com