A Beady Eye – Using Beads in Design 

How To

When we are designing a space, we love to use unusual materials and textures that add an extra layer of detail...

When we are designing a space, we love to use unusual materials and textures that add an extra layer of detail.

The humble bead has been used for thousands of years in many cultures as a form of art, currency and decoration. Beads in all their forms, wooden, glass or clay are always a delightful detail, and I like to dress a room with jewellery as much as I do myself!

Here are four ways we use beads to create playful and fun interiors.

1. Change the scale

It’s always important to think big. Even when using something small and dainty like a bead, it should still create an impact.

These giant mud bead vases are hand made by a collective in South Africa. We added lighting within the pots to shine through the gaps between the chalky white beads.

These raw and simple beads look bold and impressive placed in groups beside the doors to welcome guests to Ham Yard Hotel.

3. Let there be light 

A lovely way to accessorise with beadwork is with your lighting. We used this miniature beaded chandelier over a small breakfast table in suite 609 at Crosby Street Hotel. The combination of fabric and glass beads creates an elegant pattern of light over the table below.

2. Dressing the room

Getting dressed up is always fun, and it’s the same for our interiors.

If I have a beautiful necklace from my travels or a string of beads that just seem to fit with the rest of the room, they have been known to end up draped over a piece of sculptural art or hanging from an unsuspecting lampshade.

It adds another texture to the space and makes things personal.

In the Oak Leaf Suite in Ham Yard Hotel, we turned these Shaman’s hats from the Yoruba tribe into hanging pendant lights. The intricate white beadwork adds detail and another texture to the room.


Each mud-bead tile in the chandelier is hand-painted and stamped with a charming little design of flowers or birds. There was great excitement when it arrived, but it was a laborious process to put it safely into place.

In this beach bar in Barbados, a chandelier of hand-pressed clay beads in a kaleidoscope of technicolour was made especially for the space. It is a 2.5 metre-drop chandelier in the brightest hues to echo the colours of an Indian cabinet I had found in Udaipur.

My favourite beaded lights have to be the Kirdi’s pendant lights. Made from vibrantly colourful beaded aprons, we hang these in clusters to make most of the fabulous beadwork, bright colours and abundant texture they provide.

4. Trims and embellishments

We love to use beaded trims on curtains and cushions to add a fun accent to a room. It is something you might have to look at for a second time to notice.

I like to think of those sorts of details as part of the room’s story, like a favourite old book with little gems of prose in the story that you might not catch the first time in reading. A room should always have a surprise on entering and beaded trims and finishes never fail to disappoint.