InterviewsSophie Lambert

The Interview: Neil Astley

InterviewsSophie Lambert
The Interview: Neil Astley

"I would say the richest source of inspiration comes from the Art Deco period. The sharp, angular designs suit the materials we use and has inspired many of our furniture ranges..."

With a stunning collection of furniture, lighting and mirrors, RV Astley is one of Houseology's most exciting new brands, with a range that exudes elegant hotel style. We speak to Neil Astley to find out more about this inspirational family business...

Did you always want to join the family business?

Yes, it’s all I’ve known! The business was started by my father from our home in 1974 and, since the age of 12, I worked with him during school holidays, after school and sometimes even before school started. I wasn’t the most academic student and left school as soon as I could, giving me the time and opportunity to learn the business thoroughly, starting at the bottom in the warehouse. I became more and more involved and was eventually given the opportunity to make creative contributions and stamp my personality on the design process as well as the organisational aspects of the company. The family feel was always prevalent with my sisters and other family members working towards making the business successful - we are all proud of where we are today.


How did the brand begin?

The brand as it is today emerged as our design signature grew stronger. The company name - which was my father's name - was an important part of our history but I wanted something that reflected the forward path we were taking and so we started to promote the RVA logo rather than RV Astley. Then, to develop the brand further, we improved our whole design, quality control and selection process, planning further and further into the future. Now, we are collaborating with some of this country’s finest designers.

How would you describe the RVA look?

I would describe our look as comfortable, contemporary, stylish and sometimes tastefully glitzy with a hotel chic look - but it’s always restrained enough to sit harmoniously within a scheme. In short, we focus on creating strong lines and pleasing proportions.


Can you tell us a little about the RVA design process?

The design process starts by reflecting on the past. That may mean developing what we have previously found successful or leafing through old books and archives to discover looks and lines that can be developed and updated to carry our design signature. The most important thing to us is the materials we use and these are predominately glass and metals. These are our core ingredients which we combine with ideas and inspirations gleaned from archive material to create designs that will enhance our existing range.

This year we have collaborated with two leading names in the interior design world, Charles Bateson and Thomas Griem, to create our Designer Collection - a beautiful selection of lighting and mirrors that are already proving popular with our discerning clientele. We hope to expand this aspect of the business and we are currently in conversation with other established designers - watch this space!

Where do the design inspirations come from?

A: I would say the richest source of inspiration comes from the Art Deco period. The sharp, angular designs suit the materials we use and the play of layers and pleasing proportions has inspired many of our furniture ranges. The early 1920s’ passion for contrasting colours and reflective surfaces still works wonderfully with modern interpretations.


Is there a particular key piece in the collection that you think really embodies the RVA design ethos?

Our range is too diverse to pick out any one piece because we make all the furniture, table lamps, ceiling pendants and the mirrors in our collections. It’s most rewarding when an interior designer uses these elements together to create a stunning room, then you really get the feeling you’re on the right track.

What kind of interior style do you think RVA pieces work particularly well in?

Again it depends on how they are placed, our designs work well both in a modern loft or a period house. We focus on creating products with a strong, bold look so our pieces are often the statement element required to set off a cohesive interior scheme.


How would you describe your own style?

Simple and elegant.

What do you love to use when you are decorating a room?

I like to use a neutral base and then add strong decorative pieces to achieve a comfortable but distinctive look - I always include at least one mirror!

What do you like about working with Houseology?

The whole set-up and website is very intuitive and slick and it is wonderful to be a part of it. I am excited about Houseology showcasing our brand.


By Sophie Lambert