This week’s Modern Hero is Arianna Brissi of Brissi homewares and furniture stores. With five stores in Somerset, Surrey and London Brissi has grown from a single store in Marlborough to multiple stores in well-heeled parts of London and a new flagship store in Bath (House of Brissi).
This latest venture sees them add Embrace, a pop up cafe, to the mix alongside three floors of gifts, fashion, home accessories and the largest selection of furniture Brissi has to offer. Brissi feature made-to-order sofas manufactured in Derbyshire not to mention lighting, and mirrors inspired by life in The Hamptons.
The look throughout is elegant, understated luxury befitting of a Regency townhouse, or Notting Hill interior. Colours are muted and craftsmanship is high quality throughout. We caught up with Arianna and the team to find out more about the people behind the brand.
After working as a buyer for an Italian fashion brand for 15 years, Arianna Brissi was keen to pursue her belief that everyone’s home space should be a blend of harmonious, clutter-free pieces that make you feel good every time you open the front door. With this in mind, and a soft spot for art and beautiful objects, Arianna opened the first ever Brissi store in Marlborough, Wiltshire in 2001 and from there the London stores followed. Their latest store opening was the vast House of Brissi, their flagship in Bath two years ago, which took them back to their South West roots.
Customers often come into the Bath store and recall when Arianna would serve and chat about their home projects with them at the original store all those years ago.
IDEALIST: Many of our readers want something distinctive to look that bit different from the run-of-the-mill. It’s an ethos you clearly share, but how do you know your customers will love what you love?
Brissi: The signature Brissi style is present in all of our products. As Creative Director, Arianna is so close to the products that her personality shines through. Everything from furniture to table accessories are all personally sourced, designed and created by us. The Brissi style is very easy to blend with both traditional classic and sleek modern homes.
IDEALIST: How do you ensure your look is different/where do your ideas come from?
Brissi: Still the buyer of all of our products, Arianna travels across the world every year to source new materials and products that shape our latest season collections. She likes to work with people she has worked with for years and tends to prefer small family businesses where quality and work ethic are strong. To this day the collections that Brissi produce are inspired by all the finer things in life: special places, experiences, cultural heritage – anything that passes through the senses and that you can draw inspiration from. Our product names often have some connotations with this. Our Hampshire and New England mirrors for examples are inspired by the simple sophistication of the Hamptons and its heritage.
IDEALIST: What’s been your most popular item?
Brissi: Our Vermont oversized mirror – it’s a huge wooden floor mirror that comes painted in either matte white or chic silver, with bevelled glass. It has been a Brissi favourite for years and I don’t see it going anywhere for a while! At nearly two metres tall, it really is a majestic mirror that brightens and opens up a space.
IDEALIST: And what surprised you that you took a chance on?
Brissi: The super king size beds for sure. We always offered just king size beds, but after testing a few super kings, we realised the demand for them was big and they have continued to sell out month on month.
IDEALIST: Who are your style heroes? Your look is very refined and beautiful. What do you look for in good design?
Brissi: It would have to be Frank LLoyd Wright for architecture, Arne Jacobsen and Florence Knoll for furniture and Giorgio Morandi for art. Good design is timeless, as good taste is timeless. Something that stands the test of time is what makes good design.
IDEALIST: At The Idealist, we love to champion local manufacturers. Can you tell us more about your furniture?
Brissi: Our sofas are made by a lovely gentleman and his father, a third generation traditional sofa maker, in sleepy Derbyshire. There, with their team of cutters, stitchers, tufters and lots of steaming cups of fine tea, they make each piece carefully by hand. We’d like to say that their workshop is the Savile Row of sofas. Every piece is made to order to the highest possible standard and as such we can adapt the size to fit a room or a difficult space. As part of our Sofa Tailor service we give a 10 year guarantee on the frame; we can give a lifetime guarantee really as we trust their sturdy nature if it wasn’t a legal challenge! Our customers always love the fact that our sofas are from a UK based business.
IDEALIST: What’s next for Brissi? What can we expect from you in 2017?
Brissi: Bath’s latest venture – an outdoor pop up cafe called “Embrace” opened around Christmas 2016, which occupies a courtyard at the back of the store’s ground floor. Complete with barista, heaters and plenty of blankets and throws, customers are encouraged to enjoy the atmosphere. As we head into the Spring season, we’re looking forward to showing our customers how different times of the year and different places in the world continue to inspire the look and feel of Embrace. Our new Spring collection is launching very soon, featuring a style and bright colour palette that is new for Brissi. It’s something we have been working on for a long time and we are so excited to share it. So watch this space!
You can find out more about Brissi’s stores and shop online here.