Friday 6 October 2017

Elvis & Kresse: Business and Interior Goals.

If you saw my InstaStories a few weeks back, you would have seen that we were at our friends James and Kresse's 200 year old mill in rural Kent two weekends on the trot; one for a social meet up, and the other for James' annual work retreat. We know them through James meeting James(!) on a train, and the rest is history. We're such fans of their products, that not only do we love getting our friends to guess what their products are made from (no-one gets it right, as it's that unusual), we have enough now to start our own little pop up in the living room, from cuff links, to a bespoke wooden chest we had made to commemorate our wedding in 2014.

The stunning mill that Kresse, James and their adorable dog Monty call home.
For me, not only does their home trump anything I have seen on Pinterest, with its industrial rustic vibes, but their business, Elvis & Kresse, as well as the ethos at the helm of it all, is incredible. Fasten your seat belts as I give you a whistle stop tour of their absolutely beautiful home, impressive business and an edit of my fave E&K products. Oh, and did I also mention I have not one, but TWO discount codes for you to enjoy at the very bottom of this post, because there's only 11 weeks until Christmas after all..!!!!

This vignette is everything. What's not to love about this?
When you go into the mill, you're not entirely sure what is waiting for you (especially as it was pitch black outside when I first went there in 2014, so was totally blind sided), but you're greeted by a chair made from an old whiskey barrell, sitting within a space that is well utilised, the kind of hallway I can only dream of. There's even a wine cellar underneath this area... The mill has 4 bedrooms, all finished with their own character and gorgeous view of the sprawling pond.

It's a whiskey barrell and they made a chair out of it. They make it all look so easy.
At the very top of the mill is the main living space, which is completely open plan, making for a sociable area with a massive log burner, midcentury leather Danish corner sofa and chop and chat kitchen (can you tell I used to be a letting agent?!). 

Open plan living goals. Kitchen to the right, midcentury Danish sofa to the left. I think they would've noticed if I'd made off with it in my luggage.

These shelves inspired my upcycled scaffold board shelf at home. Can you guess which shelf is my favourite...?! I'll give you a clue, it's not the one with the teacups on.
I love these stools, painted in fire hose red. Such unpretentious attention to detail.

A pummel horse, re-covered with coffee sack. There's a sentence I never thought I'd write.
There's also a mezzanine level here, as the rafters are so high, like a viewing gallery, where there's also an extra dining space. Most of their home accessories have come from reclamation, salvage yards, or resources such as Freecycle. Their relentlessness to not be wasteful naturally extends into their home, which they'd eventually like to run on the water that rushes under the mill.

Above the living space, there's a mezzanine level. You get a sense of the height from this pic.
Look at that reclaimed wood floor!
Not to mention the view...
So, who lives in a place like this? Let's go through the keyho-... you know how the rest goes. Like Batman and Robin, Elvis & Kresse both bring something different to the party yet rely on one another to get the job done: Kresse gives the brief and Elvis executes it. Kresse, is not only a self-confessed life long waste fanatic but also has an MBE to her name for services to sustainability, but is ridiculously modest about it in a way in which I would be completely incapable.

Elvis and Kresse, AKA James Henrit and Kresse Wesling, MBE.
Their story began when Kresse visited The London Fire Brigade in 2005 and was staggered when she saw the piles and piles of decommissioned fire hose with nowhere to go but to landfill, as it can't be recycled. She saw the potential that no-one else did in this truly beautiful material, and from then Elvis & Kresse was born.

They would both literally knock anyone out of the water when it comes to the red herring task on The Great Interior Design Challenge with their Midas touch; turning waste into luxury items that are unique and striking but also built to last. They are true investment pieces. In addition to them rescuing so called waste materials and extending the life of them ten fold, they also give 50% of their profits to the Fire Fighters Charity from sales of their fire hose range. This is very important to them and something they feel all profitable businesses should be doing- again reusing surplus in the monetary sense to see what good can be done from that too. Amazing.

The iconic red fire hose waiting to be cleaned and made into things of beauty. 50% of profits go directly back to The Fire Fighters Charity.
...And here it all all cleaned and ready to turn into something beautiful.
Fire hose aside, a shocking 35,000 tonnes of leather go to landfill from the European luxury industry per year and instead of it's life ending there, Kresse was strongly compelled to do something about this. She gave James the challenge of making something big from the small scraps of leather, that can be put together, taken apart and built to last; so James designed a clever interlocking system, where the pieces 'jigsaw' together to make rugs of any size and in a range of colours (my favourite is the caramel, which sits handsomely under my dining table at home). It's perfect for clumsy people who are susceptible to spilling red wine on their rugs; you can take the stained part away, put in new leather pieces and it's like the incident never happened- ta da! You can pretty much make anything out of them, and you can buy the pieces needed for any job you wish, as you can see from the picture below:

Leather components constructed by hand make these amazing rugs and even a new covering for a chair. They are made from wasted pieces deemed unusable from luxury handbags and rescued by E&K.
Kresse and James run E&K from their home and have cleverly adapted machinery to make their products- I mean, who else has a firehose splitter?! Their conscientiousness doesn't just stop at the product- the packaging is also considered, be it military grade parachute silk or re-purposed tea sacks, all finished to the highest standard to compliment the product inside. Most of their products can be made extra special with a laser etched engraving, perfect for gifts (or self gifting).

Where the magic happens: Elvis & Kresse's workshop at their home.


THE PRINT ROOM OVERNIGHT BAG: I bought this bag for James for his 30th birthday, and whenever we go away, I get serious weekend luggage envy. It's made from printing blanket- the material used to print thousands and thousands of leaflets at one time. Once it gets an imperfection in it, it is no longer used, otherwise the imperfection will be repeated (I always think of Charlotte in Sex and the City, when her engagement to Harry is announced in the paper, and her face has a very unfortunate Hitler moustache on it due to a printing imperfection), so it's reused for these gorge bags and detailed with fire hose handles and edging.

The lining is made from auction banners, which are often used just once in their life before E&K get hold of it. I love the structure of the bag, and it's so sturdy and durable, whilst still (in the words of Anchorman) staying classy. When it comes to bags, I am quite fussy about the small details, like zips and studs- this one ticks all the boxes. When you open it, it's such a nice surprise to see the vivid colours from the upcycled auction banners popping out. One of the bags even had a banner lining with a naked male Adonis on it and true to their word, E&K didn't waste it and someone is walking around with a member on view everytime they unzip their bag.

LARGE WASH BAG: If you like to travel with your cosmetics in one space, this wash bag is the perfect size to do just so. I love the unique markings each of these fire hose bags come with, so no room for arguments over whose is whose and they're lined with colourful decommissioned parachute silk. Not only are they sturdier than regular wash bags, they're also completely wipe clean and of course, the outside is water resistant. If you're like me, then being the recipient of a wash bag or 'smellies' would be the sign that someone doesn't know me very well (or like me, for that matter), but I would happily receive one of these for every Christmas and birthday for the rest of my life.

MACBOOK CASE: Ticking all the practicality and style boxes, I'm a little bit (OK, very much) in love with this coffee sack Macbook Case, finished with yellow fire hose. I think it speaks for itself with it's sleek but rustic design and is perfect for anyone who works on the go, although E&K are not liable for your work productivity being seriously reduced by people asking you what it's made of and where it comes from. I love that no two are the same due to the markings on the sack.  

So here ends the tour, the gift shop is to the left- check out all of Elvis & Kresse's amazing products here. You can get 12% off with the code NESTTWENTYEIGHT12 across the website, and 40% off on the leather pieces to make your own rug (it's really straightforward to follow the pattern and therapeutic) with the code NEST28DIY. Get in touch with them for something completely bespoke, they're lovely and will always go above and beyond! Find out more about how Elvis & Kresse's story and how they reclaim and reuse materials here. Thank you all for reading!


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