When Loft first opened its doors in Naxxar in 2012, it was considered very avant-garde for the local market at the time. “We had recycled pallets on the floor, in contrast with the delicate and trendy items on sale, all with the aim of creating a space that feels comfortable and changing the perception of the typical furniture showroom,” said Director Josette Schembri Vella. “We used raw metal for functional parts of the interior, but the rawness and types of sections and sheets also added another element to the interior finishes. I remember many people walking in feeling quite uncertain and asking whether the shop was even finished!”
Mrs Schembri Vella said that Malta’s interiors scene has come a long way since that time. “It has certainly made up for the stagnant past decades! At Loft, we are always looking to lead the way in interiors. We like to reinvent them by looking back at traditional materials and finding ways to implement them into our contemporary spaces.”
Loft aims to be a one-stop destination for all its clients’ interiors needs. “What we do not directly supply, we are able source both through local partners and foreign contacts. We can also design anything your heart desires and have it made just for you,” explained Mrs Schembri Vella. “In our general product portfolio, we carry suppliers for outdoor and indoor furniture, fabrics for curtains and upholstery and even outdoor fabric, wallpaper, blinds, accessories, tableware, home linens, home fragrances, decorative lighting and a whole lot more. We aim to make interior planning and outfitting hassle-free for our clients.”
She emphasised that Loft is not simply a retail outlet. “We offer full design services through our Projects office, which is headed by Shaun Fenech. This is a very large part of our work. We also offer interior styling services, which we believe is also a very important part of finishing off your space and ultimately creating the desired atmosphere. Leaving a space without the appropriate accessories is like wearing a gown without shoes, jewellery, a handbag and without hair and makeup!
Styling the space is ‘the finishing touch’, and we offer this service free of charge. We feel that many businesses, hotels and restaurants could really use a little ‘styling’ or possibly ‘restyling’ to enhance the interior and create the desired atmosphere and client experience.”
Director of Projects Shaun Fenech said that the perception of an interior designer’s role has changed over the years. “In the past an interior designer’s influence was considered to be focused more on style and colours after a building is complete. Nowadays, an interior designer has a more technical and integral role to play in a project, working hand-in-hand with architects from the very early stages of a project.”
“Within the project side of the business, we learned to adapt to a more commercial side of projects while still retaining our knowledge and experience in home furnishings to make any given space feel more homely and welcoming. We focus on offering a professional service where a dedicated team provides an efficient service both from an office and on-site. Loft has set a standard and influenced a style of living that is different. It has gathered a good following in the few years that it has been operating and continues to help and inspire up-and-coming designers and architects.”
Mrs Schembri Vella said the company is making a significant investment in its Projects team. “In the past year our team has more than doubled in manpower. We have welcomed our newest member only this month! We are very proud of our staff and although we have recently been successful, finding great team members has been a challenge, in this present economic climate. And we are excited to grow the team even further, to be able to offer the best service to our Project clients.”
Loft’s past commercial projects include The Thirsty Barber in Paceville, QIVY spa’s first location in Naxxar at the YUE health centre, and 66 St Paul’s boutique hotel in Valletta. “We were contracted by owners Emma and Piero Vernacchia to choose and supply all the loose furniture and soft furnishings,” said Mrs Schembri Vella, about the latter project. “It was very rewarding, considering the beautiful outcome!”
The company’s most-recently finished commercial project is the Golden Care home for the elderly in Naxxar. “It may not be five-star hotel, but it is a five-star old persons’ home,” the Director stated. The team enjoyed working on this, as we all have older family members, and one day we will be elderly ourselves. Being part of the team responsible for the design of the interiors gave us an opportunity to create a welcoming, serene space that would allow our elderly to feel comfortable, and most importantly, dignified.” Presently, the company is hard at work on an automobile showroom, offices, a couple of hotel projects, some full design, as well as area refurbishments. “We also have some retail design work always going on. Our project list changes very often, thus the constant need to expand our team!” Meanwhile, its ongoing residential projects range from small, challenging apartments to high-end luxury villas.
Besides its flagship outlet in Naxxar, LOFT also has a retail presence in Sliema’s Tigne Point. “We opened another Belgian brand outlet called Flamant in the Pjazza only a year and a half ago – a brand which many Maltese are familiar with from trips to Brussels. We have also opened a point of sale at Minus Three inside The Point shopping mall just a few months ago.”
And that’s not all. “We are always dreaming up new things – that is what we are good at, dreaming,” Mrs Schembri Vella enthused. “We are passionate about creating spaces, so we see every derelict, neglected space as a gem which just needs a little polishing. Loft is up to something in the near future. Keep an eye on us!”
This feature originally appeared in The Malta Business Observer