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Dorset Art Weeks 2018

May 11th, 2018

The Courtyard Gallery and Workshops (DAW venue 171) is the stunning, rural location of renowned furniture maker Simon Thomas Pirie. This year, Simon is thrilled to be joined by two very distinguished artists: glass-maker Ruth Dresman and abstract painter Georgina Fermer, who bring a vivid splash of colour to this vibrant exhibition.

 

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Ruth Dresman:
This glass has been both liquid and solid, blown and carved in the process of its creation. Simple forms frame the flowing images brought to life by light and colour.

 

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Georgina Fermer:
Georgina’s training at Hornsey College Of Art in the 60s laid the basis for a life in painting. Her inspiration comes from the visual impact of emotionally moving places or events, certain motifs (landscape, buildings, water, light) that have arisen repeatedly over years, not always from conscious choice.

 

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We will also be using one of Plankbridge’s stunning shepherd’s huts as the design office during the event. These fabulous huts built by Richard Lee and his team in the Piddle Valley make great garden rooms, offices and studios. It will give us a bit more gallery space to show work in as well!

 

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Needless to say there will be plenty of our own work in the gallery showcasing the beauty and versatility of natural timber. There will be classic designs alongside new pieces including tables, chairs, display cabinets and a few surprises! On weekdays the busy workshop will be open for visitors to see work in progress and to chat to the team as they create more heirlooms of the future.

Click here for more detail about the furniture on display during DAW 2018, including ex show pieces on sale.

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Dorset Art Weeks 2018 runs from Saturday 26 May until Sunday 10 June, We are open every day from 10am until 5pm.

Directions: From the A35, 2 miles west of Bere Regis, follow signs for Briantspuddle and Warmwell (B3390). From there keep following the yellow DAW venue signs for around 1 mile onto Rogers Hill Farm.

All the Saints

May 10th, 2018

Morden Nave Altar 6

At Simon Thomas Pirie Ltd we pride ourselves in being able to turn our hand to any furniture-related job be it big or small. This year we have been fortunate to have been approached by three separate local churches to help them with very different projects. Working within the architecture of these beautiful sacred spaces always gives us lots of scope for dramatic designs that domestic furniture rarely enjoys. There are also millennia of history, faith, tradition and religious practice to draw on and sometimes move away from. Fertile creative ground!

Morden Nave Altar 4Morden Nave Altar 2The first of these projects, a new nave altar, was for St Mary’s Church in Morden. On visiting this unusually light and airy Parish church, Simon was immediately struck by the beautiful way in which the nave arch and the West window followed the exact same curve and so it made perfect sense to replicate this feature in the under-frame of the altar table. The whole thing is made from solid oak with the top constructed from 11 separate shaped pieces, this is emphasised by a small v-groove running along the length of the top creating a visibly grooved surface. 5 simple crosses are inscribed slightly deeper into the top of the altar joining the v-grooves. It’s a simple but striking detail. Now taking its place under the nave arch, the altar complements the simple beauty of the church interior.

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The next piece is a frontal chest, used for the storing the altar cloths in St Andrew’s Church in Fontmell Magna. It was commissioned by a couple for whom this church is very important; the piece is both a gift to the church and a lasting memorial to a grown-up son who sadly passed away recently. Again made entirely out of solid oak this large cabinet is solely for hanging and airing altar cloths that only get used at very specific times of the religious calendar.

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While being a simple piece to look at, ensuring airflow through the textiles and that they can be easily lifted out made this a challenging piece to design. It’s sheer size, governed by the cloths it has to store, also made getting the correct proportions challenging. The end result is a classic piece of English ecclesiastical furniture with a subtle hint of the contemporary with those crisp, shadow-line detailed, oak panels. The other feature that stands out are the 4 the hanging rails that break out from the frame to form the sloped lifting handles under the overhanging top. With half of the front panel and top hinging open this makes changeovers simple.

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Whatley Memorial TableFinally, a commission from a church we already know well: St Laruence’s at Affpuddle is the closest church to our workshops, several years ago we also made a striking sycamore & oak memorial table for the side aisle. This time we were asked to make new gates into the churchyard. Although we were initially approached by the PCC they did have a benefactor who lived overseas but had grown-up in the parish and wanted to commission the gates as a gift to the church and as a family memorial. The new gates are a refined version of the existing gates which had been hanging for around 50 years but had become tired and started to rot. We added some subtle curved top and bottom rails and simplified the centre cross to be able to take some script for the family memorial text. We commissioned Zoe Cull of Stoneform to come up with some beautiful curved bespoke script work on the centre cruciform rails. The client asked for some locally sourced Dorset oak. We found a very nice, air-dried log through Will Miller who often sources and saws rare, local logs for us.

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These three pieces have been a joy to complete. It’s been pure chance they have all come along in quick succession but it has reminded us how much we do enjoy these ecclesiastical and institutional projects.

For more information on furniture for churches, universities and museums visit the ‘Institutional’ section of our new website.

Furniture for Sale – Summer 2018

May 1st, 2018

We have various ex-show pieces on sale with significant reductions on what would be their ‘commissioned’ price. Once a speculative piece has done a number of exhibitions for us we feel it has ‘earned its keep’ and it’s time to find it a new home. This ensures there is always something new to look at on a visit to the Courtyard Gallery and gives us the opportunity to replace a showroom piece with new design ideas.

Most of the furniture offered here is on display at the Courtyard Workshops & Gallery. It will be on show during Dorset Art Weeks 26th May – 10th June, 10 till 5pm which is a great opportunity to visit the workshop and see work by our guest artists as well.

Unusually we are also selling a lovely piece on behalf of a client. It is a beautiful sycamore console table with our (at the time) signature ‘x’ square details in the top. We just happened to take portfolio images of it when made because we liked it so much. It’s still in very good condition and a great opportunity to buy one of our now ‘classic’ pieces from the early 2000’s.

The Courtyard Gallery & Workshops are open by appointment, so if you would like to come along and see the furniture please get in contact with Simon, Bridget or John.

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Sycamore Console table

An opportunity to buy a piece of Simon Thomas Pirie history from 2004! This pre-owned piece has been very well looked after and is reluctantly available for sale as a result of our client downsizing their home.

Materials: English sycamore with black walnut ‘x’ square details and drawer interior

Dimensions: 140cm x 40cm, 80cm high

For sale: £1250 (£2550 to commission something similar new)

Current Location: Viewing by arrangement

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Burr Ash and Ripple Sycamore Drinks Cabinet

A stunning native burr ash and figured sycamore drinks cabinet where the frame appears to float free of the cabinet section. LED lighting on sensor which comes on when doors are opened, 4 glass adjustable shelves within.

Materials: Native figured sycamore walnut with burr ash doors

Dimensions: 70cm x 46cm, 180cm high

For sale: £6000 (£6750 to commission new)

Current Location: Dorset Art Weeks – The Courtyard Workshop Showroom

There are more details and more images of this cabinet elsewhere on this blog – please click here to read more.

 

Inspired Dresser copyModern Dresser Cabinet

Gently curved open oak shelves above with 2 doors and single drawer in cabinet section. A piece that would look stunning in a kitchen, reception room or hallway. The ultimate in practical contemporary furniture pieces.

Materials: Oak shelves and frame with ripple ash doors and drawers.

Dimensions: 104cm x 42cm, 222cm high

For sale: £2950 (£4750 to commission new)

Current Location: Dorset Art Weeks / The Courtyard Workshop Showroom

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired Display Cab copy(Pair of) Ascot Display Cabinets

A pair of elegant subtle curved full height glass door display cabinets. Ideal for display of collectables, glassware etc but also as a drinks cabinet.

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Dimensions: 96cm x 38cm, 203cm high (each)

Materials: English walnut with figured sycamore interior. LED lighting and adjustable glass shelves within.

SOLD: £4750 (£9,900 to commission new)

Current Location: Dorset Art Weeks / The Courtyard Workshop Showroom

 

 

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Gabriel Dining Chair

Pictured with walnut lozenge dining table (details below.) Gabriel chairs are available to commission in other timbers and combinations.

Materials: Black walnut with black walnut laminated back, purple and gold woven fabric.

Dimensions: 46cm x 52cm, 105cm high

For sale: £500 each (£975 each to commission new each, without fabric)

Current Location: The Courtyard Workshop Showroom

We currently have 4 of these Gabriel chairs available, we can make others to match.

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Lozenge Dining Table

Black walnut lozenge shaped top with black walnut underframe. Laminated curved structural rails with 2 pillars keeping frame away from knees. Seats 8 to 10. Available in other materials and sizes.

Materials: Black Walnut (with English walnut details in pillars)

Dimensions: 220cm x 108cm, 75cm high

For sale: £2500 (£4950 to commission new)

Current Location: Dorset Art Weeks / The Courtyard Workshop Showroom

 

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Walnut Drinks Cabinet

Stunning English & burr walnut drinks cabinet where the frame appears to float free of the cabinet section. LED lighting on sensor which comes on when opened, 3 glass adjustable shelves within.

Materials: English walnut with burr black walnut doors

Dimensions: 78cm x 46cm, 180cm high

For sale: £3995 (£6720 to commission new)

Current Location: Dorset Art Weeks / The Courtyard Workshop Showroom

There are more details and more images of this cabinet elsewhere on this blog – please click here to read more.

 

 

(Pair of) Pivot Drawer Console Tables

Ash-Pivit-Drawer-Console-768x1024A pair of lovely pivot drawer tables in native ash, a much under-appreciated wood! The drawers pivot from the outside edge creating an unusual but nevertheless very useful storage space (large enough for A4 plus plenty more). Perfect as a hall table to drop keys and other items into. Ideally sold as a pair but will split. Available to commission in other timbers. (We have made them in walnut and sycamore previously.)

Dimensions: 120cm x 45cm, 80cm high (each)

Materials: English ash with Scottish grey/brown leather interior.

For sale as pair: £3950 (£7250 to commission new)

For sale individually: £2150 (£3625 to commission new)

Current Location: Dorset Art Weeks / The Courtyard Workshop Showroom

 

 

All of these pieces, unless otherwise stated, are available for viewing at the Courtyard Workshop Showroom, Briantspuddle, Dorset. DT2 7HJ. The showroom is open by appointment or during events like Dorset Art Weeks.

Case Study – Walnut and Elm Kitchen, Surrey

December 11th, 2017

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We have made a lot recently of our collaborations with architects and interior designers but this project in Surrey took us right back to our roots, working directly with the client to produce a truly bespoke kitchen meeting their individual needs.

The initial contact was made during a 6am email exchange on a Saturday morning (we were both clearly morning people) and was followed by a face to face meeting later the same day back in November 2015. This was the start of one of those special client and designer relationships where personalities just seem to ‘click’.

They had approached us a few months before building had started on their project to build a new home on their existing plot in Surrey. This was the perfect time frame for us to get involved, just after the main contractor had been appointed and the build plans had been finalised. A key feature was a huge family room across the back of the house to incorporate sitting and dining areas and, of course, the kitchen. The whole of the wall overlooking their substantial garden was to be glass, as was an internal wall bringing natural light into the centre of the building. This was to be the room that the family would spend most of their time in and they had spent a significant amount of time researching kitchen designers which had helped them to clarify precisely what they wanted. However, all the designs they had been presented with had a similar ‘cookie-cut’ feel and they were after an altogether more bespoke kitchen, unique to them. Images on our website and that early morning email exchange helped to convince them that Simon had the passion and the vision to deliver what they wanted.

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By the time we got involved then, the clients had a very clear idea of what they wanted. Simon helped to refine the design, listening carefully to their requirements, making suggestions and adding a number of details. This large and very light space required some careful selection of timber, too light and the cabinetry would look bleached out; too dark and the contrast would be too great. The conclusion was to go for cabinets made principally from elm with black walnut details and with stunning burr elm highlights on the key feature doors and drawer fronts. As the client explains, “Simon’s greatest value was in putting the materials and woods together and in sourcing the timber.” This intense pallet of timbers is counteracted by the choice of very stark white Corian work surfaces and the rich intensity of Jo Downs’ handcrafted, sea-green glass which together create an atmosphere of fresh calm.

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The long back wall houses all of the key kitchen appliances. The tall elm cabinets contain Miele main oven, warming drawer, steam oven and microwave combination oven. Behind burr elm doors are the integrated Liebherr fridge and freezer and the lower section houses the Miele induction hob. In order to protect the simplicity of the back wall and to leave it free for the beautiful, green glass splash-back and decorative wall plates, we fitted a Westin downdraft extractor. Having the central hob unit flanked on either side by the ovens, fridge and freezer creates a pleasing symmetry and creates an almost stage-like appearance.

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To the left of this cooking ‘stage’ the sink is at a right-angle to the rest of the kitchen. It is fitted with Quooker Nordic round twin tap which provides instant boiling water and negates the need for a kettle. Next to the sink, a horizontal tambour door, disguises the smaller appliances such as toaster or food mixer which the client uses regularly but did not wish to have on permanent display.

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The largest feature of the kitchen is the large rectangular island. Unusually for one of our kitchens, there are no appliances or water services in this island. It incorporates a range of elm cabinets and drawers down one side and seats four, on our ‘Guinness and Murphy’ stools, along the other side. There are also storage cabinets at either end and these are very subtly curved to provide a sense of movement and flow through the kitchen space.

The gentle curves of the island are echoed in the front of the more decorative breakfast cabinet which features large, curved, vertical tambour doors and contrasts with the simplicity of the island. The doors are constructed of intricate, burr elm slats which slide open to reveal a lit ripple sycamore interior that the client particularly loves because it “looks like a sheet of silk”. On either side of the tambour cabinet, there are display shelves and tucked behind these are side slivers of shelving ideal for storing cookery books.

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Another large elm cabinet with walnut details houses the Liebherr wine fridge. This is conveniently positioned so as to be easily accessed during dinner at the 12 seat dining table which features a glorious, hand-selected Wych elm top supported on a walnut under-frame. The Wych elm has a delicate green sheen which works exceptionally well with the green glass, chosen by the client for its suggestion of the movement and colour of the sea.

For us, working in such close partnership directly with the client has been refreshing and rewarding. This kitchen has been a joy to work on and we are immensely proud of the final result. At the end of this project, it seems only fair that we leave the last word to the client: “Simon communicates well and is responsive. The quality of the deliverable fully met our expectations…the kitchen was going to be functional, but our kitchen has beauty…”

All images by Double Exposure Photographic