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Posts Tagged ‘Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range’

Around the Workshop – Best of 2016

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

I’ve been struggling to find time to write the blog recently, a reflection of just how busy 2016 has been. It has been an amazing year now I look back on it; in terms of the amount of work, the size and ambition of the projects undertaken but also just the sheer breadth of what we’ve done.

This time last year we were just finishing off work on two museum projects; one being some stools for the newly refurbished V&A Europe 1600-1815 galleries learning area, the other being furniture for the Watts Gallery in Surrey. On both of these projects we worked in close collaboration with ZMMA Architects, a dynamic London practice we have strong connections with. You can in more depth about these museum projects on the blog by clicking here.

And it’s very much that collaborative theme that continued through the year…

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Highly challenging museum work with ZMMA Architects for the Watts Gallery (right) and the V&A Museum (left).

As the museum projects came to an end we were just gearing up for our first big project of 2016, the interior of a large contemporary CLT (cross laminated timber) built house on the North Norfolk coast called Bliss Blakeney. It’s not our normal stomping ground but the project and the clients meant it wasn’t one we wanted to miss out on, besides getting to know a new part of the world is an added bonus. We were asked to design the entrance hall and stair areas, kitchen, living / snug area, bar, library, bedrooms and dressing rooms. The first half of the year was very much focused on the Bliss project, we ended up completing the abstract stair panelling, the very funky kitchen, the snug and the library areas before drawing a line under it. The next elements are due in 2017, so hopefully this time next year there will be more images to see.

What I loved about this project is it was the clients who were pushing us for more radical design solutions, they are not scared of risk taking or bold design. That’s always a thrill for a designer when it happens and inevitably leads to new and exciting work – I see Bliss as very much a joint project between us and very creatively minded clients. Not sure what I’d pull out as a favourite piece or element of the Bliss project – the kitchen island perhaps? I also love the sideboard / media cabinet in the black sycamore wall panels of the snug, and the stair wall panels in fumed oak / pink ripple sycamore and intense blue, and the library and….

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Bliss Blakeney on the North Norfolk Coast, full of colour and creativity and came to define the first half of 2016.

We still need to get the space properly photographed, but even from our site snaps you can see this is a bit special. Despite being a long way away the site fitting was always a pleasure because we could get put up in the luxury ‘Cabin’, a four bed self contained wing of Bliss where the team could chill out after a long day’s work. The local pubs were great and so was landscape of North Norfolk coastline. It’s not often we do describe the fitting part of a project as a ‘pleasure’, but this was certainly true of the Bliss Blakeney project.

For more about Bliss and staying at the stunning Cabin yourself click here…

Cabin at Bliss

The daily breakfast meeting discussing the fitting day ahead in the ‘Cabin’ at Bliss Blakeney.

The other big news of 2016 was our collaboration with Sitting Spiritually, the garden furniture and swing seat makers from Lyme Regis. Late in 2015 they approached us to design a new contemporary swing seat for them. They had seen the work we had done on the Tudor Arcade Public Seating project and our prototype ‘Floating Benches’ with scorched and natural oak and wanted to harness that look in a new swing seat. Out of this came the ‘Yakisugi’ swing seat in 2,3 and 4 seat versions. We also licenced the Floating Bench to Sitting Spiritually and developed one and two seater versions as well as the original generous 3 seat bench. This became the ‘Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range’, sold exclusively through Sitting Spiritually, but designed and made by us.

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We don’t have a high profile in the garden furniture world, but Sitting Spiritually do and they take a stand at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show every year. It’s the build up to that where the Yakisugi Swing Seat but especially the Floating Bench got huge attention – getting shortlisted for RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year. Images ended up in every paper and supplement imaginable. Post Chelsea it was a key feature in two RHS Gold Medal award winning gardens at Hampton Court and Tatton Park, with plenty of BBC TV coverage to boot. It’s nice seeing other garden furniture suppliers trying to play catch up – the scorched and natural oak combination was definitely the hot theme of 2016!

Floating Green

I don’t think I’ve ever designed something that has ever got quite so much attention in a short space of time. The middle of the year saw us making healthy batches of the swing seats and Floating Benches and we are already discussing what’s going to be on the RHS Chelsea Sitting Spiritually stand for 2017. Sworn to secrecy though!

A little film to celebrate the Sitting Spiritually / STP Collaboration in 2016.

For more about the Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range which is sold exclusively through Sitting Spiritually visit the Sitting Spiritually website.

On the collaboration theme we continue to build relationships with interior design practices, high-end developers and architects. They come to us for our very bespoke skill set and the fact we can help them elevate their concepts into something real and exquisite. One such project was with Jigsaw Interior Architecture and AMD Developments in a new property by the river in Christchurch. This stunning contemporary build utilised a very calming neutral interior palette which is both elegant and subtle. We were asked by Jigsaw to work on the staircase liaising with the metal fabricators to produce the timber stair treads and landing elements as well as a couple of large room divide / display storage shelves. These were made in a birch ply and a black face veneer. They look simple but were much more tricky to make then they initially appear. One of these had a large siding end grain panel on industrial castors that covers half of the display space.

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The living and dining space shelving in ply and black tulip wood at Wick Lane – Scheme by Jigsaw Interior Architecture.

There is more detail and more images of this project on the blog – click here.

We are working on other schemes with Jigsaw, as well as with other interior design and architectural practices on some very exciting varied projects for 2017/18. Three years ago we decided to pursue more of this kind of work (as well as our own generated furniture, kitchen and interior commissions) and it has certainly paid off, giving us a much longer project horizon. It means we have have stuff penciled into the schedule 18 to 36 months ahead and properly firmed up for up to 18 months. From a business perspective it just means we can plan ahead and feel secure.

If the first half of the year was shaped by the Bliss project, the second half would be equally dominated by another project with a snappy one word name: ‘ACE‘ is a new apartment block on the desirable stretch of coastline at Sandbanks, Poole. We were only involved in the Penthouse flat, which has views over Poole harbour to one side and the open ocean, with panoramic views from the Isle of Wight to Old Harry Rocks on the other. We were invited to tender for all the fitted furniture elements except the kitchen on this by Woadden Nash Interiors in conjunction with Westcoast Developments. The building was being built by Colmar Construction who we had worked with very successfully on the ‘Fire & Water’ kitchen in 2015.

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We have known the team at Woadden Nash for some time and had come close to working with them on a couple of projects before, so it was lovely to finally secure something this big. The finishes are rich and opulent throughout the scheme, with lots of use of Italian coloured Tabu veneers on the furniture as well as a very dark brown sprayed oak throughout as a constant repeating theme on the furniture and internal joinery.

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Images of work during fitting at ACE Sandbanks, the project that has defined the second half of 2016.

We worked intensively with the Woadden Nash, Westcoast and Colmar team on developing very narrow 35mm skirtings, picture rails and decorative door linings throughout the apartment and these were the first elements to be fitted. The furniture consisted of all the wardrobes and dressing rooms in the 4 bedrooms, dressing tables, master en suite bathroom cabinetry, master bedroom furniture and panelling, shelving and TV cabinet for the living area, as well as the shelving for the night lounge / study. Last but not least is the two sided bar cabinet which stands in the centre of the room – my favourite piece on the project.

Still to get professional shots of the ACE and Bliss Interiors but i’m hoping the portfolio book and websites will be bulging with lots of exciting images and full length case studies very soon.

For all this talk of big projects and doing complete interiors we do still love making small individual pieces of furniture, it is after all at the very core of what we are as makers and designers. When you are working on projects that take months to design, months to make and almost as long to fit then snag, it’s rather refreshing to see smaller commissions designed, made and delivered in weeks. It’s important for us to get a nice mix of projects, so I’m as happy designing a small side table as I am a kitchen or library. We’ve had a few furniture pieces that have stood out this year and perhaps some images can say more than words here.

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Top left – ‘Perch’ chairs in elm as ruby wedding present to match existing STP table and benches. Top right – Stunning olive ash and fumed oak dining table – chairs to come! Bottom – Media sideboard in oak with scollop detail panels.

Next years projects are already beginning to take shape in the workshop. We are currently working on a beautiful study, which is the first element of a major new build near Beaulieu in the New Forest. We also have two large kitchens and interior projects lined up for the spring / summer, a classic 1920’s modernist interior in Hampstead, the next stage of the Bliss work in Norfolk, 60 Officers Mess chairs for a Guards regiment, a church alter and lots more we are in discussion about. 2017 looks like it could be even more exciting than 2016!

Floating Benches in Two RHS Gold-Medal winning Gardens!

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

It’s been a busy summer for the new Sitting Spiritually ‘Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range’ after its launch at the Chelsea Flower Show. The Floating Bench was shortlisted for the RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year which gave it a very high profile, and although we didn’t win the public & press reaction was terrific. Needless to say we have been busy making them to fulfil Sitting Spiritually orders ever since.

The new range, and in particular ‘Floating Bench’ has also gone down very well with garden designers; hot on the heels of success at Chelsea Flower Show a pair of Floating Benches featured in the Gold-medal winning CCLA ‘Summer Retreat’ garden at RHS Hampton Court. Designers, Amanda Waring and Laura Arison of Catfoot Garden Design were inspired by the ethos of the Arts and Crafts Movement; the garden embracing its values of simplicity, elegance, style and craftsmanship. The Floating Benches beautifully illustrated the quality of contemporary British design and craftsmanship whilst their ‘barely-there’ appearance allowed the planting to be viewed virtually uninterrupted. CCLA-A-Summer-Retreat__1088x612-04

Catfoot Garden Design’s ‘CCLA Summer Retreat Garden’ which won a Gold-medal at RHS Hampton Court incorporated two 2-seat Floating Benches in the design.

The garden and the benches featured prominently on the BBC TV coverage from Hampton Court with Joe Swift talking about the medal wining garden at some length on and around the benches…

There was hardly time to catch breath until the opening of RHS Tatton Park (from 20th – 24th July), and once again a Floating Bench is in another RHS Gold-medal winning garden! This time it subtley makes its presence felt without dominating the ‘Waiting List’ show garden. Designed by Alison Galer, once a transplant nurse, this uplifting and calm garden has been created for patients who are waiting for a kidney transplant. The Floating Bench provides somewhere for patient and nurse to sit and talk surrounded by the beautiful planting and tranquility. The-Waiting-List-01__1088x612

A single 2-seat Floating Bench at RHS Tatton Park. Florence Garden Design’s ‘Waiting List’ garden was also awarded a Gold-medal by the RHS.

Not sure if the Floating Bench has become a bit of a garden designer’s lucky charm or whether Martin Young of Sitting Spiritually has a sixth sense to just back winning designers. Whatever it is 2016 certainly has been quite a year for the Floating Bench!

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. But you can also get a feel for the collaboration in our latest short film – from design, though the making, steam bending and scorching right up to when Martin from Sitting Spiritually delivers the furniture into the clients garden.

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.

Hold on to your Swing Seats

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

The collaboration between Simon Thomas Pirie and Sitting Spiritually got off to a great start recently when the Floating Bench, one of the key pieces in the new ‘Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range’ was announced as a finalist in the ‘Chelsea Garden Product of the Year’ awards for 2016. So how did Sitting Spiritually celebrate this? Hold on to your luxury swing seats – all that’s needed was a Floating Bench, a Yakisugi Swing Seat, a break in the weather, the whole of Lyme Regis and a drone. Enjoy!

The ‘Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range’ is exclusively available through Sitting Spiritually. For further details and prices click here.

The range will be officially launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show – 24 to 28 May 2016. You will find Sitting Spiritually and a friendly welcome at Stand RHW 369.