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A Grand Day Out

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

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Thursday 25 May 2017 was the hottest day of the year so far. The perfect day to travel to London to visit the most famous horticultural show in the world! All 3 directors, Simon, John and Bridget accompanied by John’s wife, Emily, took the opportunity to visit the new editions of Floating Bench on Sitting Spiritually’s stand at RHS Chelsea and were delighted to see how much attention they S&J Chelseawere getting. The sultry, jet-black Noir bench was the surprise hit of the show, outstripping Blonde in terms of sales, but both benches have joined the original Floating Bench as popular additions to gardens this summer.

As well as visiting Sitting Spiritually’s stand, there was plenty of time to visit other friends from Dorset, sculptor Simon Gudgeon from Sculpture by the Lakes and Richard Lee from Plankbridge Shepherds Huts, as well as viewing the show gardens and trade stands and gaining some inspiration for new designs as well as for our own gardens.

Our day was rounded off in the most perfect way with an invitation to the Furniture Makers’ Company Design Guild Mark Awards in Clerkenwell where John, Emily and Bridget were thrilled to watch Simon being presented with Design Guild Mark No.193 for Floating Bench. Simon now has his head full of ideas for more garden furniture so you can expect to see a new range taking shape soon and, who knows, maybe another Design Guild Mark may follow?

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Design Guild Mark for Floating Bench

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

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It has been another good year for Floating Bench. Following on from being a finalist in the RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year Award in 2016, Simon has now achieved the ultimate accolade having been awarded a Design Guild Mark by the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers. This award, only a handful of which are awarded each year, is the most highly prized by furniture makers nationally.

The Design Guild Mark is awarded by The Furniture Makers’ Company, the furnishing industry’s charity, in order to drive excellence and raise the profile of British design and innovation. The award recognises the highest standards in the design of furniture in volume production by the finest designers working in Britain, or British designers working abroad.

Floating Bench holds only the 193rd Design Guild Mark and when you search through the list of designers who have been previously awarded – well-known names like Robin Day, Rodney Kinsman (OMK), Simon Pengelly, Rod Wales, Mark Gabbertas, Sarah Kay and Samuel Chan, it’s very refined company. This is actually Simon’s second Design Guild Mark, he also holds number 142 jointly with Makers’ Eye for the Poon Desk from 2014.

DGM SS ChelseaThe judges recognised the beauty and innovation in the design of Floating Bench which is unique in the way the gently curved back rail appears to float, unsupported, whilst at the same time being robust and comfortable to sit against. The construction of the bench required a great deal of creativity and the team at Simon Thomas Pirie Ltd had not only to develop new techniques for steaming and scorching the timber but had to build their own equipment with which to do it. One of the biggest challenges to overcome was to devise a method of scorching the timber for the seat whilst ensuring that there was no possibility of black ash stains on light-coloured clothing. Having successfully solved this problem, we believe that we are the first garden seat maker to combine these techniques in outdoor furniture.

The Design Guild Mark Logo was displayed proudly on our Noir & Blonde Floating Benches on the Sitting Spiritually stand at RHS Chelsea this year

FurnitureMakers-GuildMark-Awards_2017_044-7640Simon being presented the award by Alex Gifford, Chair of the Design Guild Mark Committee and James McClachlan, the editor of Icon Magazine during Clerkenwell Design Week

The commitment to overcome the challenges faces by wooden furniture exposed to the elements was also acknowledged by the judges. Alex Gifford, chairman of the Design Guild Mark, commented that “Floating Bench is designed specifically as a garden bench and is not, as is often the case, a standard bench which can be put outside.”

FB2 SS Garden bThe contrast between the scorched, black seat and the natural oak back and arms of the original Floating Bench enhances the effect of the back rail hovering unsupported above the seat. The open back allows a view through the bench, minimising its visual impact whilst at the same time beautifully framing its backdrop; be it lush green foliage, brightly coloured flowering plants or a characterful dry stone wall.

To provide the gardener with yet more choice, two new editions of Floating Bench were unveiled at RHS Chelsea 2017. Blonde is entirely un-scorched and adds an understated contemporary twist to a traditional or naturally planted garden. Its natural oak silvers over time and melds into the garden as it rests, unassuming, inviting the weary to rest awhile. Noir on the other hand is a sculptural statement piece appealing to the more adventurous gardener. It looks spectacular when positioned against a background of green or brightly flowering plants and its jet-black scorched timber holds its own as the centrepiece of a more minimal garden.

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The Blonde & Noir special edition Floating Benches were launched at RHS Chelsea this year

The Original ‘Two-Tone’, Blonde and Noir versions of Floating Bench are available as two or three seaters and sold exclusively through Sitting Spiritually. Ltd Prices start at £3,120.

Ash & Sycamore Drinks Cabinet – Chin Chin!

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

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Followers of the blog will remember a feature we did last year on an English walnut drinks cabinet whose dark rich colours seemed to enhance and reflect a fine collection of malt whiskies, which just happened to be mine. Over the past couple of years though it has become very evident that there is a complete renaissance happening in bespoke gin making in Britain, with new brands emerging seemingly everyday producing beautiful tasting and beautiful looking products. So this got me thinking – was it time for a gin collectors cabinet?

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We had in the meantime been commissioned to make another darker, walnut drinks cabinet which had slightly different proportions – taller and thinner. Then came yet another commission for a lighter timber version for a Scottish client, so it seemed to make sense to combine these elements and make an extra showroom cabinet – the alter-ego piece to the dark walnut whisky collector’s cabinet in the showroom.

The frame is made in native figured (or ripple) sycamore, as are the sides and interior of the cabinet section which floats suspended in the frame. For the doors we were looking for something a bit different, it needed to be subtle but eye catching. In the end we landed on using a burr ash, similar in colour to sycamore but with a very distinct grain and texture that seemed to suit the piece. The recessed handle detail on the curved front doors is in elm, as are various details throughout the cabinet like the cross rail detail on the bottom curved frame. We designed the bespoke hinges with I.P Engineering. They are a work of art in their own right, made from stainless steel and phosphor bronze.

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As on the other drinks cabinets the interior is lit with LED spotlights which come on via a sensor when the door is opened. The shelves are fully adjustable and made of toughened glass for maximum flexibility in terms of format. The back of the cabinet interior has mirror glass on it, creating more light, depth and reflection.

We had a lot of fun during the shoot with Double Exposure Photographic trying to get these shots right, playing around with interior and positions of the various gin bottles. We managed to resist drinking any of it, although not all of them made it back to the shelves of Morrish & Banham Wine Merchants in Brewery Square Dorchester! I’d like to thank Mark Banham for his expertise on the selection, but also for trusting us with so much of the clear stuff, with just my word he’d ever see me again.

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A lovely element of this was that two of the Gins are Dorset distilleries. Conker Spirit Gin are based in Bournemouth and Fordington Gin from just down the road in Dorchester. This very English micro industry is really taking off much in the way that craft brewing has done. In a way it has lots of resonance with other bespoke craft industries like our own. Perhaps that’s why we like it so much.

So here’s to English summer evenings with a gin in hand. Chin Chin!

Materials: Native figured sycamore walnut with burr ash doors

Dimensions: 70cm x 46cm, 180cm high

For sale: £6250

Current Location: The Courtyard Workshop Showroom, by appointment. 30 June to 2 July at Making Dorset exhibition – For further information click here

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Furniture for Sale – Summer 2017

Monday, June 12th, 2017

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.

Although most of the furniture is usually here in the showroom at the Courtyard Workshop we are also taking part in Making Dorset (June 30th to July 2nd) so some of the pieces will be on show there for the duration of the exhibition. Please refer to the ‘Location’ text.

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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Burr Ash and Ripple Sycamore Drinks Cabinet

New for 2017, 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: £6250

Current Location: 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: £3750 (£4750 to commission new)

Current Location: 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. Ideally sold as pair but will split.

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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.
For sale as pair: £7000 (£9,900 to commission new)

For sale individually: £3500 (£4950 to commission new)

Current Location: 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: £750 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: £3950 (£4950 to commission new)

Current Location: 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: £5950 (£6720 to commission new)

Current Location: 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: £5500 (£7250 to commission new)

For sale individually: £2750 (£3625 to commission new)

Current Location: The Courtyard Workshop Showroom

 

 

All of these pieces are available for viewing at the Courtyard Workshop Showroom, Briantspuddle, Dorset. DT2 7HJ. The showroom is open by appointment.