In conversation with: Birdie Fortescue

Drawing on her experience as an interior designer and antiques dealer, Birdie Fortescue offers a personally curated and designed collection of homeware, antiques and contemporary art from her shop in Norfolk.

When did you start the business?

I opened my first shop in North Norfolk in 2014. I was very lucky to find an unusual Victorian warehouse which was too large to use solely for antiques so I decided to curate a mixture of contemporary homeware and art alongside the furniture.

Birdie Fortescue with pieces from her collection

How hands on are you?

Very! I’m in the office 9-5, 5 days a week – the business is my passion. I lead all of the seasonal collection design and source all of the antique furniture myself. I then work closely with my team on any buying or additional sourcing.

Your inspiration usually comes from foreign travel – where did you find the inspiration for the Autumn/Winter collection considering we have all been locked indoors?

Creating this year’s Autumn/Winter collection was a very different experience but I still found myself able to travel the world, just this time it was via books, blogs and social media.

Rather than focusing on a single country or region I’ve pulled inspiration from across the globe which has given this collection a rich narrative and wonderfully layered aesthetic.

The new Wensum pedestal table in Aegean Blue

You have launched a capsule furniture collection. Is this the start of something bigger for you?

I would like to think so – the response to the collection has been incredible! I had been sitting on the idea of a furniture collection for some time, but I wanted to make sure that I had the right maker here in Norfolk.

The range is inspired by a specific antique I’ve loved over the years and reimagined in a different way. The quality of the craftsmanship is exceptional which elevates every piece and makes it a real statement.

Are there benefits to the business being based in Norfolk?

Norfolk is a bit of a well kept secret on that front – there are a surprising number of creatives and design-led business based here and it’s so easy to pop down to London. The landscape here is a constant inspiration and is certainly something that keeps us well stocked with work by some incredible Norfolk-based artists.

All from the collection – including rug, lamp, table and cushions

Do you still undertake interior design projects? And how has your background in interior design informed the Birdie Fortescue collection?

We have a very busy design studio and are currently working on a variety of large residential projects both in Norfolk and further afield. My background in interior design is key to the brand. The idea that every piece has been curated is at the heart of our look and informs every new product we design or source. I think this is definitely one of the things that makes us unique – our customers can feel confident that anything they choose has been carefully thought out by an experienced designer.

What is your favourite piece in your collection – old or new?

We have some fabulous limited edition Turkish rugs in our current collection that I just love. I saw the maker at a fair years ago and have waited until the right moment to add some pieces to our range. It’s the texture of these rugs that makes them so appealing; they’re woven from recycled hemp and wool so have a real rustic charm yet the patterns are very contemporary and chic.

What is your favourite possession?

I have some wonderful Chinese panels in my drawing room that I adore. They date from the 19th Century and are painted in the most wonderfully soft palette. They are much admired and I can’t imagine the room being quite the same without them.

Where would you like to travel once we are completely free to roam?

I can’t wait to get back to India. I used to visit our makers once or twice a year and combine the trip with some sightseeing for design inspiration. I always came back bursting with ideas and filled with excitement for our upcoming collection.

You can visit the Birdie Fortescue website here

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