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Design Guild Mark for Floating Bench

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!

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

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.

‘Making Dorset’ – 50 Dorset Makers

June 11th, 2017

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Woodcut by Robin Mackenzie, printmaker

Fifty of Dorset’s best designer-makers will be exhibiting together in the historic Wolfeton Riding House venue near Dorchester over the first weekend in July 2017. ‘Making Dorset’ is also the launch event for the accompanying book celebrating the same 50 artists and craftspeople called ’50 Dorset Makers’.

STP JB MDThe event has been a long-term aspiration of Dorset Visual Arts (organisers of the bi-enniel Dorset Art Weeks.) They have teamed up with Evolver Magazine who are publishing the book and of course the makers themselves who have been pushing for a high-quality selected event in the county for a long time.

The final selection, made by Professor Simon Olding of the Crafts Study Centre and Simon Barber of Evolver Magazine is a mix of well known names, makers at the start of their professional careers and established craftspeople who have not exhibited at this kind of event at all. The broad range of work will span traditional crafts to very contemporary practice; all the major disciplines will be represented from musical instrument making to ceramics, printmaking to jewellery and of course furniture making which has always been strong in the county.

So as well as ourselves, John Makepeace, Petter Southall (iTre), Karen Hansen, Jack Draper, Alice Blogg and David Saltmarsh (Fivepenny Chairs) will all be exhibiting furniture. The lovely thing about this group is all of us approach our designing and making in very different ways with contrasting results. I’m really looking forward to seeing it all together and trying to understand if there are any common strands that make the work a result of our common location – Dorset. Or not!

The venue for Making Dorset is Wolfeton Riding House at Charminster, just outside Dorchester. This rare 16th Century riding school is an important historical building which has been renovated by the Wolfeton Riding House Trust over the past two decades with support from English Heritage among others. Part of their remit in return for this funding is to open the building up to the public through cultural events like Making Dorset. For more information about the building and the Trust click here.

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Wolfeton Riding House exterior and interior following extensive renovation by the Wolfeton Riding House Trust

Making Dorset is a celebration of the best of design, making and craft, a high quality curated show with exquisitely made objects selected by experts. But it is also a book launch for 50 Dorset Makers (it’s sister book ’50 Wessex Artists’ was published in 2006) and is part of a series of events to celebrate of the 100th edition of Evolver Magazine. It’s hard to underestimate how important this bi-monthly arts culture and listings magazine has become to the South West arts community since it first appeared in 2001, for which Simon Barber, its founder and editor deserves huge gratitude. So we are really looking forward to taking part and being involved on all sorts of levels.

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The cover of ’50 Dorset Makers’ supporting Making Dorset, published by Evolver Magazine

‘Making Dorset’ is not just a one-off; Dorset Visual Arts are planning other events in the future and hope it will become a recognised brand of excellence in the world of craft, design and making, both within Dorset and beyond.

We will have a number of pieces there, we are still working on the final list but one of our stunning burr ash and ripple sycamore drinks cabinets is a definite. We are also providing a pair of English walnut glazed and lit display cabinets that other makers of jewellery and silverware will be able to use to display their work in. From our perspective the furniture is enhanced by having other high quality objects in and around it so we are very comfortable with this. John and I plan to be there over the weekend and are looking forward to catching up with familiar faces and meeting plenty of new ones.

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Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity to see the very best of British craftsmanship in a building which is a little known jewel in Dorset’s history. It will be a good day out.

Making Dorset is open to the public on Saturday 1 July and Sunday 2 July from 10am till 5pm.

The Making Dorset event opening and 50 Dorset Makers book launch is on the evening of Friday 30 June. Please contact us or Dorset Visual Arts directly for further details.