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Exciting opportunity for a design assistant at Simon Thomas Pirie Ltd

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Simon Thomas Pirie is an award-wining bespoke furniture design and making practice. Our small but growing dedicated team of highly skilled cabinet makers make furniture, kitchens and interiors, outdoor furniture and public seating projects from our workshops near Bere Regis, Dorset. We work for private clients, interior designers, architects, developers and institutional clients.

A unique opportunity has arisen to work in the design office of this small but expanding company as the design assistant to Simon Pirie in a role that encompasses a broad range of exciting duties.

Hopefully it goes without saying that the candidate needs to have a strong interest in furniture and interior design. Ideally they would have some experience of making in a workshop environment but, if not, then be interested in how things are made and go together. There may be opportunities to help out and develop practical skills in the workshop; as part of a small dynamic team we expect any prospective candidate to be flexible and willing to help out.

There would be plenty of CAD work involved preparing client presentation drawings and working drawings for the workshop team. We work with Vectorworks on Mac so experience with that would be helpful though not essential.

We would also like the candidate to have good visualisation and rendering skills, so knowledge of Google Sketch Up Pro, the V-Ray render suite and photoshop would be desirable.

The nature of the work, like the projects we undertake is very varied. There will be days out on site, client visits and other occasions where we want help in and around the workshop. However the primary focus will be as Simon’s design assistant in the office.

Would suit graduate or student work placement but we will consider applications from anyone with the right skills and attitude.

Potential start date from September 2017. Initially for one year with the potential to become a permanent post.

Simon Thomas Pirie Ltd is located in Briantspuddle, 12 miles west of Poole and 12 miles east of Dorchester. There is no reliable public transport so having your own transport is essential.

Salary by negotiation.

We are always keen to hear from enthusiastic makers and there may be opportunities to join our workshop in the near future. If you think you would like to work for us, please send us your C.V.

To find out more about opportunities at Simon Thomas Pirie email or call Simon.

Studio Image by Matt Austin

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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