British Design Edit: #I have this thing with cushions

If I was the curator in charge of the Victoria and Albert Museum looking to set aside the best in 21st Century domestic design, I think I would be putting these cushions in my shopping trolley a bit sharpish. I have been following Brighton-based Age of Reason Studios on Instagram for a while but before I tell you my reasons for admiring these cushions so much, I have something to confess…


Let’s set this straight. There is no such thing as ‘too many cushions’  – whether on sofas, armchairs or on a bed. Ralph Lauren has taught the world the joyous art of ‘cushion super layering’ – and I for one thank him for it! A Ralph Lauren stylist will bank a bed with row after row of ever smaller cushions leaving – if you are lucky -approximately 40 cm of ‘free’ bed. In our house I protect them, plump them, arrange them but there are many forces stacked against their survival…

The cushions on my sofas face the ravages of two men and Panda, the miniature schnauzer. They just don’t have the same reverence for these ‘decorative’ jewels. Mr White always plays the ‘function’ card – “What’s the point of so many?” and “Why can’t I sit on them”?  A poor argument indeed – he just doesn’t get it. And as for Mr White junior… Match of The Day is the most dangerous time of all …

‘Jagger-esque’ lips 100% silk lips cushions, 75 x 50 cm, £125, Age of Reason Studios and at Rocket St George

Age of Reason Studios is based in Brighton and, as well as designing silk scarves and other fashion items, the business has evolved into making cushions too. Former London film maker Ali Taylor Mapletoft takes inspiration from literature, historical costume, pop-culture and her African childhood in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Ali’s work applies a quintessentially British style to her contemporary collections and she has a strong environmental ethos.

I always find it fascinating to see the original workings for a design, the notebooks of ideas and even the studio or office space the designer inhabits. Ali occasionally shares her pen and ink sketches on Instagram (@ageofreasonstudios) and here is an image from the website Age of Reason Studios.



There are many reasons why I admire Age of Reason Studios’ witty cushions but here are just three:

  • ‘Reason’ number one: they are made of 100% luxurious silk, and if that isn’t enough…
  • ‘Reason’ number two: they are filled with environmentally-friendly British Orkney wool from small farms, including a family run farm on North Ronaldsay – the most northerly of the British Isles. Ali says “The sheep on the island are truly free range, roaming the beaches, they’re extremely hardy and mainly eat seaweed!”
  • And…‘Reason’ number three: this is the perfect combination of owning a piece of British art – all wrapped up as a luxurious cushion.

Cushions rule the waves

Square size is 45cm x 45 cm including a duck down feather pad (from non live plucked birds) £85 – wool pads available for square cushions soon.


Cushion designs in development at the Studios include some print clouds but also some dog-shaped ones – Corgis “with a twist” and pugs.  I know that I (and perhaps Her Majesty?!) can’t wait to see those. Ali also says, “We also have a surprising wool campaign coming up, and it’s not what you expect! Watch this space.”


I would recommend you keep your eye out for them by checking the website: Age of Reason Studios

Wink, wink

If I buy them I am going to have to go to ‘red alert’ in terms of cushion security, methinks. Displaying one as a piece of art on a shelf would not only look great but would perhaps ensure a safe haven from unsympathetic handling?!

Measuring 75cm x 50cm, like the lips, these eye cushions (£125) are printed with vibrant silk and backed with gunmetal grey cotton velvet and filled with environmentally-friendly Orkney wool:

Love your cushion?

Age of Reason Studios also sell top-up bags (250g and 500g) of wool to give your eye and lips cushions more of an overstuffed look.  “Love your cushion, and it will love you back is our motto,” says Ali Taylor Mapletoft.

What do you think? Are you a cushion ‘fancier’? Do you have favourites? Are yours like mine, at risk daily or do they reside plumply, undisturbed and in perfect symmetry on your sofa?! I would love to hear from you…

Charis White, interior stylist


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Charis x 

(Caption for main image: #WhisperMe @Whispermeofficial)

9 thoughts on “British Design Edit: #I have this thing with cushions

  1. I AM most definitely a cushion lover Charis! I think the term ‘scatter’ is misinterpreted in our house, but two or three times a day Johnny or I reset them to their original positions.

    Loved the references to the two Mr. Whites (they sound very Quentin Tarantino misterious…).


    Sent from my iPad



  2. I have lived in a house of cushion philistines for so long and my battle of the cushions has had to ward off gangs of boys, AA, who doesn’t ‘get’ cushions at all, various cats (please take your claws out of my silk cushion) and Minnie, who is just as happy to grab one if no shoe can be found to greet the man from Amazon, who delivers seemingly daily to our door. No one ever plumps them up, or even sees the point of this activity, let alone ever thinks to rearrange them, or pick them up off the floor where they have been carelessly thrown to watch TV. Sadly, being outnumbered, I have had to put up with this outrage for years. I’m still trying to come to terms with beautifully plumped cushions and empty nest or enjoy the total disrespect of my cushions with chicks! Think I prefer the latter.


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