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Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea flower show’

Blonde & Noir, Special Edition Floating Benches for 2017

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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2016 was an extraordinary year for Floating Bench and our new collaboration with Sitting Spiritually. The bench and its new partner, the Yakisugi swing seat which form the basis of the Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range had their first outing at RHS Chelsea, with Yakisugi ending up as a feature in the Raymond Blanc hospitality area – Le Jardin Blanc. Meanwhile Floating Bench was shortlisted for the RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year award and was part of two RHS Gold Medal winning gardens at the Hampton Court and Tatton Park shows. All this generated lots of magazine, TV, and social media coverage and a healthy order book!

There is little doubt the scorched finish and texture that we are at the forefront of was one of the big hits of last year, so much so that we are seeing it appear on other garden furniture manufacturers stands and within the garden design world more generally. So how have we reacted to this flattery? With the 2017 ‘Noir’ and ‘Blonde’ special edition floating benches…

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The Blonde is finished in natural oak with no scorching at all – pure and simple, exquistitly finished and detailed. In a way we are saying ‘”we’ve done the scorching thing and moved on”.

But that’s not entirely true, because we still love that texture and character that the burnt surface gives us. It’s a black like no other black, somehow deeper and more ephemeral; so we decided to create the ‘Noir’. This completely scorched Floating Bench has real presence, it’s a piece of sculpture as well as humble garden seating. As a statement this is saying “we are taking scorching to its visual and technical limits!” The result is a jaw-dropping piece of refined beauty, but with a real edginess.

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Burning timber to create a scorched surface is relatively easy, but creating that depth of finish, the texture and the stable surface has taken us many years to perfect. Actually it’s far from easy as the harshness of the flame shrinks the timber and creates an unstable brittle surface. We have to work hard though various processes to turn it back into a hard-wearing surface finish, but the end result is worth it.

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Playing the Blonde and Noir special edition benches off one another was fun in the photoshoot. We have always loved exploring what you can do by creating opposites. It’s an approach that we have regularly taken with our furniture over the years. Experience has taught us that a single design made in different timbers can take on very different personalities. Lighter timbers like sycamore or ash tend to produce more delicate, soft and sensitive, almost feminine characteristics; whilst darker timbers, walnuts, or burrs for example tend to demand more attention and make excellent statement pieces. The contrast between the natural mid tone oak and scorched variant on this bench do indeed create two very different beasts which just goes to highlight what you can do with a single product.

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Of course we shouldn’t forget the original two-tone Floating Bench here. It is still likely to be the best seller with that lovely balance between the two extremes of timber, texture and contrast. During the early development of the Floating Bench we did come across a few clients for whom the scorched surface was too stark or contemporary, so these clients were the impetus for the Blonde.

If the client for a Blonde is shying away from the contemporary, then the client drawn to Noir is positively embracing it. It’s a bold statement piece that will hold its own in a highly landscaped garden, or as a foil to some very specific foliage or planting. I can also see Noir as an inside piece, holding its own within a strong architectural interior.

We think these new additions to the Sitting Spiritually ‘Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range’ will make 2017 as exciting as the 2016 launch year, broadening the client base and interest. Floating Bench has been shortlisted for 2 more very high profile awards this year. The first is for a B&LLA (Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards) as it now a Sitting Spiritually licensed product for Royal Horticultural Society. It is the RHS that suggested we all entered the bench for this award.

Even more excitingly from a design perspective Floating Bench has been shortlisted for a prestigious Design Guild Mark from the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers. Both these awards will be announced in late April, just in time for RHS Chelsea. Fingers crossed on both hands!

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Both Blonde and Noir Special edition Floating Benches will be on the Sitting Spiritually Ltd of Lyme Regis stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 23rd – 27th May 2017 (Stand RHW295).

You might may be able to get a pre-Chelsea sneak peak of the range at the Sitting Spiritually Open Garden Weekend, which takes place at their Lyme Regis HQ on the weekend of 29/30 April. For more information visit the Sitting Spiritually events page here.

The ‘Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range’ of garden furniture is available exclusively through Sitting Spiritually. The images above are all of 2 seater versions of the bench, there is also a generous 3 seat version available in all finishes. For more details and pricing of all Floating Benches and Yakisugi swing seats visit the website by clicking here.

All Images taken by Double Exposure Photographic.

Perhaps the last word on Floating Benches should go to an RHS Gold Medal winning garden designer…

“It’s understated and simple, functional and beautiful. Inspiring.”
Sarah Jarman of Jarman Murphy Garden Design

Shows and Exhibitions 2017

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

As I write this, I am seated at my desk in our so-called office and showroom surrounded by towering piles of kitchen appliances, chunks of solid kitchen cabinets and units and sections of study shelving. A narrow path leads to my chair and looking back along it I can glimpse a sliver of the outside through the glass doors. You are always welcome to visit our ‘showroom’ but just at present, even a pre-emptive telephone call won’t help you to actually see anything – you can barely step inside, never mind make out the shapes, shrouded as they are in protective grey blankets!

All is not lost however as there are several opportunities for you to see our work at various different venues this year:

3rd – 6th May 2017 – ‘Inspired’ British Festival of Silver, The Goldsmiths’ Centre, 42 Britton Street, London EC1M 5AD

Inspired 2015
This is the 3rd time we have exhibited in this prestigious show. Part of London Craft Week, ‘Inspired’ presents the work of the very best of British silversmiths, including our friend, Karina Gill, displayed in and on furniture by the country’s leading furniture makers. This year we will be showing a contrasting pair of our drinks cabinets: one in English walnut with burr American black walnut doors, the other in sycamore with burr ash doors. The show is open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 5pm and Saturday 10am – 4pm. More details available here.

23rd – 27th May 2017 – RHS Chelsea Flower Show London Gate, Royal Hospital Road, Royal Hospital Chelsea, London SW3 4SR

Chelsea SS Stand
Following the success of the launch of our collaboration with Sitting Spiritually Ltd at RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year, Floating Bench will be returning in a slightly different guise. This year, you will be able to see two new versions of the Floating Bench: Blonde and Noir. As the names suggest, Blonde is completely un-scorched natural oak while Noir is jet-black, entirely scorched oak. They will once again be accompanied by our Yakisugi Swing Seat. Look out for Sitting Spiritually’s stand – RHW295.

1st & 2nd July 2017 – ‘Making Dorset’ Wolfeton Riding House, Wolfeton, Dorchester, DT2 9QN

wolfeton riding house‘Making Dorset’ is an exhibition of fifty of the best 3-D artists and crafts-people based in Dorset and will include the launch of a new book called ‘50 Dorset Makers’. The show is a Dorset Visual Arts initiative and is curated by Professor Simon Olding , Director of the Crafts Study Centre and Simon Barber, Editor of Evolver Magazine. ‘50 Dorset Makers’ will be available to purchase at the venue and from each of the makers taking part.

As we get closer to each event, we will update these details so keep checking back.

If you can’t make it to any of these, then you are welcome to try your luck at the Courtyard Workshop, please though, do telephone first.

Chelsea Flower Show Launch

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Chelsea SS StandFor years I’ve been watching the Chelsea Flower Show coverage on the TV thinking “is it really for me”? But recently I’ve been getting more and more drawn in; I have friends like Richard & Jane at Plankbridge Hut Makers and the Sculptor Simon Gudgeon who exhibit regularly and speak highly about the whole experience. It seemed inevitable that as I went down the route of designing outdoor furniture some day I’d be drawn like a moth to this blue light. However, following the recent tie-up and ever deepening collaboration with Sitting Spiritually it all happened rather sooner than I anticipated…

With so much of Sitting Spiritually’s focus being on RHS Chelsea every year it was inevitable that our world would have to align with theirs: The new Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range which includes the Floating Bench and Yakisugi Swing Seat is now sold exclusively by Sitting Spiritually, it was our job to perfect the designs in the run-up to the show and make sure we had made enough stock to meet demand during and after.

Yaki float

Of course it’s hard – almost impossible to work out how something is going to go down with the public and as a result how much stock to make beforehand, but Martin and the team have years of ‘Chelsea’ experience to fall back upon and understand the rhythm of the show and its visitors well. The same couldn’t be said for us, so John and I, accompanied with wives, thought we’d better go and ‘do’ the whole Chelsea Flower Show thing. Turns out it’s impossible not to get swept up in the atmosphere; the celebs, the TV crews, the show gardens, the awards, the incredible flower displays in the pavillions and just the general sociable hubbub. We arranged to meet clients and friends there and ran into many more entirely unexpectedly. It’s lovely, and is a total antidote to the ‘design show cool stand-offishness’ we are used to.

For all of that though, it is for a large part a high-brow trade show right in the centre of London’s most expensive district and there is serious money being spent on and off the stands. It’s the right place to bring the new Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range and we were all pleased with the reception it received. In the end Sitting Spiritually had their best year ever at Chelsea Flower Show, with the new products representing about a third of the items sold. What was even more encouraging was that the kind of clientele that came onto the stand we were different to those who tended to come and buy the more traditional swing seats from the other ranges. This was exactly the more design conscious audience we were hoping to woo.

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Floating Bench was shortlisted as one of the ‘RHS Chelsea Garden Products of the Year’ which meant there was also a two-seater version on the Finalists Stand. That nomination in turn meant we got even more great press then anticipated, appearing in The Sunday Times, The Observer, the Mail on Sunday and The Sun the weekend before, as well as lots of the glossy mags in the preceding month. You can just tell when a product is going to hit the ground running, Floating Bench really did have everything going for it and it felt like it was everywhere for those few weeks. The Yakisugi Swing Seat also had its moment in the limelight though, getting it’s fair share of press attention. The high point for Yakisugi was when Sitting Spiritually were asked if they could provide one for ‘Jardin Blanc’, Raymond Blanc’s very exclusive RHS hospitality area. We dropped everything and finished one in double quick time!

As it turned out a rather lovely hosepipe won RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year! To be fair it was rather a sophisticated garden watering system called the Hozelock Cloud Controller, more to do with a modern phone app control system than the hose itself, but saying I got beaten by a hose made me feel better! Still, just getting shortlisted was a big coup in terms of raising the Floating Benches profile.

By the time we said goodbye to Martin, Celia and David on the stand it was near closing time anyway and our feet, eyes, nostrils and wallets could take no more, but we all agreed we’d be back next year; that we’d spend an extra day and be working hard on new products. Turns out Elvis Costello was wrong, “I do want to go to Chelsea”.

DAW out

Although Chelsea Flower Show is now over you can catch both the Yakisugi Swing Seat and Floating Bench at our studios as part of Dorset Art Weeks Open Studio’s which is on until Sunday 12th June. For further details click here.

The story of how the Simon Thomas Pirie / Sitting Spiritually collaboration came about is featured in a previous feature on this blog. Click to read more.

For more information about Floating Bench and the Yakisugi Swing Seat please visit the Sitting Spiritually website who sell both products exclusively. Click here…

Show Time!

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

It’s May and it’s our busy time of year for shows both in London & Dorset, both indoors and out in the open…

‘Down Memory Lane’

30 Years of Walford Mill Crafts, Wimborne. 19th March until 22nd May.

Down_Memory_Lane_Invite_front40 makers with strong links to the Mill celebrating its 30 years of consistent promotion of high quality crafts both locally and nationally. Makers include John Makepeace, Matthew Burt, Alan Wallwork, Frances Hatch and many more.

I was involved at board level for many years at Walford Mill, chairing the board it for two periods over a decade. I’ve also taken part in shows at the Mill since 1998 and even co-curated a furniture show there with Christine Fletcher-Jones in 2009. It’s a long standing relationship which I’m proud to be associated with!

Our stunning walnut & burr walnut drinks cabinet is being exhibited during ‘Down Memory Lane’.

For more details and opening times please visit the Walford Mill Crafts website.

‘Inspired 2016’

Part of British Silver Week, Goldsmiths Centre, Clerkenwell, London. 9th May until 14th May

Inspired 2015 ‘Inspired 2016’ is the fourth collaborative selling exhibition between the Festival of Silver, the Furniture Makers’ Company and John Higgins Contemporary Silver. The Goldsmiths’ Centre will once again host this impressive exhibition of the UK’s finest silversmiths and bespoke furniture makers.

On display will be the work of 80 of the finest UK silversmiths, including Rod Kelly and Hiroshi Suzuki, as well as the monumental work of Thalen & Thalen from Belgium and the innovative silversmithing of Lasse Baerhing from Denmark. Also showing will be 15 of the UK’s finest bespoke furniture makers including world renowned John Makepeace; and other prominent holders of the Furniture Makers’ Company’s prestigious bespoke Guild Mark, awarded for excellence in design and craftsmanship.

We will be exhibiting a pair of our stunning pivot drawer console tables, this time in native ash. It’s our second appearance at Inspired, the above image showing our ‘Ascot Display Cabinets’ in the background behind a striking Waywood dining table.

For more information about Inspired including opening times click here.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show with Sitting Spiritually

Royal Chelsea Hospital, London. 24th May until 28th May 2016
Floating Green

It’s the build up to Chelsea Flower Show and our collaboration with Sitting Spiritually on garden swing seats and benches sees the Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range officially launched at RHS Chelsea this year. The new Yakisugi Swing Seat and Floating Bench will be on the Sitting Spiritually stand (RHW369), with the Floating Bench also featured on the ‘RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year’ finalists stand.

And we have just had more exciting news with the confirmation that the Yakisugi Swing Seat will be featured in the Jardin Blanc at Chelsea Flower Show. Jardin Blanc is the exclusive restaurant and hospitality area run by Raymond Blanc at the heart of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show experience.

It has been a great start to the launch with lots of press attention, we have already been featured in the Sunday Times Homes supplement, The RHS Magazine, Woman and Home, Society of Garden Designers Magazine and Gardens Illustrated. We all can’t wait to see what the public reaction will be like during Chelsea.

Yakisugi Dart 1

Make sure you visit Martin Young and the team from Sitting Spiritually who will be there throughout the show on stand RHW369, we will be joining them on the 24th for a Chelsea ‘day out’. Can’t wait to sup up some of this prestigious event’s atmosphere.

For more details about Chelsea Flower Show opening times and how to get there click here.

For more detail about the Sitting Spiritually / Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range visit the Sitting Spiritually website.

Dorset Art Weeks 2016

The Courtyard Workshop, Briantspuddle, Dorset. 28th May until 12th June

PV at 45 copyProbably the greatest free festival of artists and makers in the UK. This year we are one of 300 studios and workshops opening their doors to the public for all 16 days of DAW 2016. Joining us at the Courtyard Gallery & Workshop are the painter Frank Finn and the silversmith Karina Gill, both very highly regarded artists in their own fields.

We are also very lucky to be right next door to the talented acrylic & watercolour artist Marilyn Allis whose studio (venue 47) is also open during DAW.

 

 

More About our Guest Artists
4. KarinaGill

Karina Gill’s striking etched metal bowls and jewellery are influenced by colour, texture and repetition. Her organic and geometric forms are hammered and manipulated by hand in silver, steel, copper and brass. Karina has expanded her range in silver, working on much larger scale sculptural bowls for interiors. Karina’s work is the perfect visual compliment to Simon’s furniture.

To see more of Karina’s work visit her website…

P1050963Many of Frank Finn’s paintings explore the rhythmic tensions across land and sea. Other, non-figurative works research fundamental dynamics within the picture frame and the balance between informal and structured shapes. Frank Finn has been a trustee for Dorset Visual Arts and has frequently exhibited in Dorset Art Weeks, but this is the first time Frank’s work has been shown at the Courtyard Gallery.

To see more of Frank’s work visit his website…

 

As well as our dining furniture, occasional tables, cabinets and the Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Garden Range we have developed for Sitting Spiritually, there will be plenty of ‘work in progress’ going through the workshops including some of our larger projects like kitchens. We also plan to be steam bending throughout DAW – watch this blog and our social media for times and dates. The joy of an open workshop event like this is that we are always here to talk to – whether it’s just to answer a simple question or have an in depth discussion about a potential commission.

The workshop and gallery is open every day throughout the event from 10am till 5pm. Follow signs for Briantspuddle off the A35 2 miles west of Bere Regis, then keep following the red and yellow DAW venue signs 46/47 on to Rogers Hill Farm.

To search through the directory of 300 venues click here.

The free 160 page full colour Dorset Art Weeks brochures can be found throughout Dorset in pubs, galleries, libraries, and tourist information centres.