I am sitting down with Melina Blaxland-Horne, newly installed in unit 17a Rugby Street here in Bloomsbury, surrounded by her beautiful silk ikat lampshades and cushions. The first question I have to ask her is “Where did the name Melodi Horne come from?”
A smile spreads across her face “Ok but don’t laugh. No one has ever known this until now. Me. Lo. Di. Melina. Loves. Dimitri.” Dimitri, her husband, is sitting to my left “That’s right” he says “This is all about love.”
Ten or fifteen years ago Melina’s sister had teased Melina and Dimitri over their deep affection for one another when an anacronym of sorts popped into her head. Melina knew she would do something with it one day.
After leaving university with a master’s degree in politics, Melina went straight to the city to work as a ship broker. Funnily enough Dimitri was doing the same thing and this is how they met. A little while after they got together, they decided to turn their hand to property development as was their passion for refurbishing buildings.
Time passed and around five years ago, just as Melina and Dimitri’s daughter Annabel was beginning school, a visiting friend admired a lamp that Melina’s mother had given her however she hated the shade; “ I said I didn’t know where to get a nice one, my friend said, ‘then make one yourself’. So I did!”
It was the perfect time to start lessons and learn the craft. The basic cardboard-shade-making techniques quickly made way for the more complex fabric ones; for Melina it had to be quality. It had to be slaved over, the finest it could be.
“The world would be a better place if everything in people’s homes was made with positive energy and passion. If someone picks up on this in an object, then it goes with them.” I’m inclined to agree.
The ikats, sourced in Turkey, are produced in Uzbekistan – the birthplace of the ikat. Melina goes there herself and it took a long time to find the perfect supplier. “I asked a lot of questions and had to do a lot of digging. There are a lot of expensive ikats for the wrong reasons, mostly greed. And I didn’t want to go with the everyday patterns and colours. I wanted to seek out the ikats with a twist, to make couture for the home. Every shade has to make a statement!”
Her collection changes every six months and there are limited editions of each pattern available.
Each lampshade and cushion is lined or backed and piped with one of a few dozen beautifully dyed Irish linens some of which have also been successfully made into shades on their own merit; the light source becomes more playful through the texture of the cloth, a more organic weave. Colours are mixed and matched, they are lively and chic.
Now, with just a brief glimpse of an ikat pattern Melina instinctively knows how a shade will look before she starts making it. Melina’s shades are fabric heavy, rich objects in their own right. Six panels of ikat fabric go into making an 18” shade, which can be up to 1.5 metres in width. It can take up to two days to make one shade and there is work all over it. No one lines a lampshade as fastidiously and with a perfectionists eye for detail like Melina does.
Since officially launching two years ago, business has grown enough to enable Melodi Horne to outsource work and they take great pride in supporting the cottage industry in the North of England. The love of this area goes back to Dimitri’s father, who lived in Derbyshire for years and to whom Melina and Dimtiri would regularly visit. Dimitri’s father was passionate about the tradition of skill and the manner of the people of the area. During the industrial revolution it was practically considered the centre of the universe. “It’s all but gone now. We want to do something to rescue it. The craftsmen we work with are so correct in their dealings with us. We visit them person by person and give them our work. They are so proud of their skills and love the opportunity to be able to put them to use. These areas are hungry for it and work tirelessly at keeping the industry going”.
When I ask her if there had been any unexpected incidents along the way, as we’ve all experienced starting up business. Melina expresses her surprise at how interior designers she has worked with have never compromised her work; “Everybody gets it, they’ve stuck to the ethos without questioning anything. It’s a good feeling!”
The ultimate Melodi Horne dream is to inspire more young people, like their daughter, to learn about, and value, the skills associated with craft. “They are as important as becoming a doctor or scientist. They let you express yourself”. Melina says she wants to teach Annabel that it is never to late to start learning and with enough positivity and inspiration you can do anything.
Melodi Horne will be at unit 17a Rugby Street, WC1N 3QT for all of February and March. There is a wide selection of ikat and linen lampshades and cushions available along with several lamp base designs. A bespoke service is also available.
Melodi Horne is proudly all handmade in the U.K.
For more information online visit http://www.melodihorne.com/ or email: firstname.lastname@example.org