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Posts Tagged ‘Tabu Veneer’

Bliss Fit 2

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Bliss Outside 1We have just returned from our second scheduled fit at Bliss Blakeney on the North Norfolk coast. This time we were concerntrating on the main living space which includes the kitchen and TV/snug areas. I say second ‘scheduled’ fit because John & I did an extra fit over the Easter break where our families came along and stayed in the cabin with us – they had a mini holiday while we worked our socks off. They had a great time and it is a lovely part of England to explore.

For this fit we had lots to do so brought our full team. We have taken on a another maker (confusingly another Mike) who just happens to be the son of our upholsterer. We were staying in the Bliss Cabin again which is a real comfy home from home with plenty of space and luxury to chill out after a long day. The other advantage is it’s a very short walk to work. It’s so much nicer than staying in a B&B where you can’t really relax in the same way. Despite the luxury, the convenience, the good local pubs when you can’t be bothered to cook, fitting is nevertheless very hard work. By the end of the week we are all knackered and aching in places that have never ached before.

Bliss snug Fit 1

Effectively we divided up into two teams one concentrating on the kitchen island, the other working on the TV/snug area. The kitchen island went together really quickly, by lunchtime on the first day the basic structure was assembled and in position so we got our real sense of the scale of this piece. At 4m by 1.4m it’s easily the largest single island we have made. While it certainly is big in the context of the space it’s perfectly proportioned and really does form the centrepiece and focus of this key space. In many ways the island is the kitchen – all four faces have a purpose – some more practical, some more sociable. Fit 3 at the end of May will see us build the back wall units which contain the ovens, more storage, the surrounds for the fridges and a lit copper inset work surface, but the priority this time was to get a functional kitchen in as the clients are already living in the house.

Bliss Island Fit 1

The one piece stainless steel worktop hit problems at the fabricators so did not turn up at all this week. The island should have been completely finished but in the end we had to rig up a temporary plywood surface until it arrives – hopefully next week. The copper sheet that forms the plinths and the under-surface detail also came late due to issues with suppliers so when we left at the end of the week we hadn’t seen it with the protective film taken off except on one corner of a drawer detail. It looked incredible against the the dark grey ripple sycamore panels. That combination of copper, charcoal figured sycamore and the stainless is certainly going to create one of our most dramatic kitchens ever. Very different to our contemporary but curvy, woody and mostly walnut kitchens. Don’t get me wrong, we love doing those, but this is a refreshing change of direction and palette towards something modern and very cool.

The first stage of the project was stairs walls and library area where the predominant material was the pink figured sycamore (click here to see Bliss Blakeney Stage 1 fit blog story.) In the snug and kitchen it is a similar dark charcoal grey version of that material that links these two areas together. The snug is very much about that dark grey sycamore – creating a rich enveloping space that quite literally ‘wraps’ around you – on the walls and the ceiling, incorporating the TV wall. There is also a built-in cassette type fire which is surrounded by slate in a similar dark grey. The slate and the sycamore have a repeating horizontal shadow line every 450mm which creates a really striking ‘wrap’ detail. The only contrast to the dark grey of the sycamore and slate is the floating sideboard piece that houses all the AV equipment. This is in solid grey fumed oak and is a key material that repeats all over the house.

Bliss Snug Fit 2

The stone fitters were unable to complete their installation and as a result we couldn’t finish the panelling on either side of it. Same is true of the island and the stainless top. In fact we got to the point where we ended up not being able to finish either part of this stage of the project so ended up leaving a bit early on the Thursday evening instead of Friday. We’ll be back at Bliss at the end of May to finish both the island and snug and build that back kitchen wall.

Can’t wait to see this area finished, even from these rather busy fitting snaps with tools all over the floor you get a sense of the stunning space to come…

Bliss Island Fit 3

Bliss Fit 1

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Bliss Outside 1
In late February we moved the whole STP team from Dorset to the North Norfolk coast for the first stage of our Bliss Blakeney fit. This amazing project sees us collaborate closely with the Bliss Space team to create striking interiors for this most stunning contemporary home. Over the course of the next months we will be returning regularly to fit the kitchen, larder, living space, bar, dressing rooms and other fitted and free-standing bespoke furniture throughout the house.

What I really love about working on this project is that the clients are so visionary and brave about what they want. It’s a very creative partnership that is leading to dramatic design solutions and a whole new language that keys into the architecture of the building and its surrounding landscape.

Bliss Blakeney is a sleek low profile CLT (cross laminated timber) structure which is built around a central courtyard overlooking the Norfolk salt marshes, Blakeney Harbour and the North Sea. Despite being a very modern building in an area dominated by more vernacular traditional flint cobble buildings, Bliss sits in this big panoramic landscape beautifully. It is quite frankly a bit of a masterpiece. So the bar was raised for us – not only by the clients, but the building and the environment itself.

Sea Room Bliss

The call from Daniel & Lisa Broch, owners of Bliss came out of the blue, they had found our website and video work and liked what we did, although they made it very clear from the outset they were not looking for furniture and interiors that looked like anything we had done before. For me as a designer and the whole making team this is exciting to hear. Although we love all the work we do we know that it is when we are pushed creatively that we come up with our most exciting ideas, ideas that move the business forward into new directions. From the first meetings, initial design concepts and material palettes we knew Bliss Blakeney was going to be hugely exciting…

Stage 1 was to tackle the stairwell walls and open upstairs library / comfy area. Now wall panels on the stairs may not sound the most exciting place to start, but these are no ordinary panels. The brief was ‘architectural scale Mondrian’, and when we talk scale we are talking two walls – the largest being nearly 7 metres high and 3 metres wide. To create something that appears so simple, as is so often the case, is anything but…

Bliss Stairs 10Bliss Stairs 12Bliss Stairs 15

Firstly we had to attach hardwood frames to the CLT walls and straighten any misalignments out, then attach the panels with the pink ripple sycamore veneer on as the background layer then invisibly hang the decorative surface panels onto it. Most of the surface panels are made of solid oak and treated with a fuming product that turns the oak a subtle grey, with the exception of 3 which are a strong flat vibrant blue colour. The largest of these is the size of a very generous 12 seat dining table top, which of course went near the top! Needless to say the logistics of this involved lots of muscle and some brilliant scaffolders who built stuff as we needed but more importantly took it down as well. It did take us the full 3 and a half days on site to build, but looked stunning when the scaffold finally came down on Thursday evening.

Of course most of the preparation and making had been done in the weeks and months before back in Dorset, although we only ever really see these large interior assemblies together for the first time when the clients do – as fitting ends. Up till then it had been a kit of rather large parts taking up more and more of the office and workshop. The stair panels and library, together with most of the workshop tools ended up filling our 2 vans plus a large luton for our Monday morning convoy to Norfolk. That first day was spent loading, driving and unloading again. It’s a glamorous job sometimes!

Bliss VanCabin at Bliss

That was made up for by our accommodation for the week. Part of the Bliss Blakeney complex is an attached but self-contained luxury 4 bed ‘Cabin’ which provides four bedroom suites all with direct access to gardens, a great Master Suite with private deck and feature bath and open living area leading to deck and garden. The generous living and kitchen space became our chilling space after a long day but also doubled up as my impromptu office to work on drawings etc. We planned to take turns cooking but with so many great pubs around we only managed on 2 of the 4 nights. Having our own comfortable space on site really makes the situation easy and enjoyable.

As well as the stair wall panels we were also building the contemporary library at the top of the stairs. Together with Daniel & Lisa we came up with a very abstract design for this piece. Although I call it a library, in reality it also serves as a media wall, snug area, filing and samples drawer cupboard and general storage. As with everything on this project the scale is large. Even after all these years sometimes scale still catches me out. It was only when I walked into the workshop and looked at the two 2.8m tall floor to ceiling cabinets that it hit me as to how large this element of the project was.

Bliss Library 10

The pink ripple sycamore panels as the background element tie the library visually to the stairs, as does the other common material – the fumed grey oak on the cabinets and drawers. The 3rd material is another coloured ripple sycamore – this time a grey / black for all the horizontal shelves. Like the stairs we also had to straighten the walls with timber frames first, then panel in the pink sycamore before we could construct the ‘furniture’ on the front. The design of the library relies on everything being completely true and square. In the end it took John and I two days to get the panels to sit correctly. We had anticipated getting the whole library up in two days then be helping out Mike and Tom on the stairs. Just goes to show that when fitting nothing ever goes quite to plan.

Bliss Library 15The pink also runs around a corner creating a ‘wall wrap’ detail. Again this was to integrate the furniture with the interior architecture but also meant we needed to create perfect mitre joints on site (it’s hard enough in the controlled environment of a workshop!) For all its difficulty to achieve as a detail though, it is a visual triumph and something that we will repeat as a theme throughout the project.

When we left it still needed the electrics and AV equipment installed, as well as having the pink sycamore facia TV panel added, but it has really started to come into it’s own when dressed with books, lights and other objects. It was designed to be used and to be useful. There is so much going on here I can’t choose a favourite element – I love the material / colour contrasts, the fold down front where the AV equipment is housed and the repeat horizontal detail and recess handles on the drawers. But I keep coming back to that pink corner wrap and it’s not even a piece of furniture!

Bliss Lib 0416

And Lisa Broch’s take on what we have done already…

“The Library looks amazing and feels like it has always been here which is a bit of a weird feeling, but just means we are all in tune with this house.The staircase is a piece of art. Very excited about the next chapter”.

Perhaps the real surprise to me is the stair wall panels themselves though. I got wrapped up in the detail of the design and then the fitting of the library so wasn’t paying much attention to the stair walls. It was only on Friday morning when it really hit me as to how stunning the whole thing is; it’s sheer scale, the way it catches and reflects the light around the space, its relationship to the landscapes and sky through the glass openings around it and the fact you touch and interact with it as the handrails on both flights of stairs.

There are lots more great design ideas and new materials to come on this project, but i’m wondering if in a year’s time it will still be those stair wall and handrail panels that are my favourite element.

Bliss Stair fit 5

Case Study – North Dorset Barn Conversion

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Our ‘Case Studies’ are an opportunity to take a more in depth look at projects from a design perspective…

This project is for the same clients as our last kitchen, which you can also view as a case study here on the Simon Thomas Pirie blog:

It is situated in an adjacent converted barn, close to the house and is actually two very different projects under one roof; one a home office / study, the other a large bar / cinema / entertaining area. Lets start with the bar.

Bar 1

It’s great when I get a client who loves colour, so often these days people go for safe mono-tonal, muted colours. Nothing wrong with that, but strong colour makes wood come alive, and lets face it this is an entertaining space, somewhere to have fun. In the end we selected two of the ‘Tabu’ coloured veneers – a vivid blue madrona burr and a man made dark brown check. This was combined with some really beautiful native elm, the three just bounced off each other like some early nuclear fusion experiment.

Bar 2bar 3

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Around the Workshop – May & June

Friday, June 24th, 2011

To say the last couple of months have a frustrating would be a bit of an understatement. We are snowed under with really good enquiries so I’m particularly busy on the design front, but every time I do some work on one of these larger projects I seem to choose the one that then gets put back for whatever reason. Two steps forward and then one back. I know what will happen, they will all come off at the same time, despite my best intentions to manage time better. We have kitchens, studies, some outdoor stuff which I’m very excited by and some nice free standing furniture to come, hopefully…

Zmma Tops

I think in the last round up I mentioned some elm tops for Adam Zombory Moldovan (ZMMA) who i’m doing the Shaftesbury Common Places and Persimmon Homes projects with. He’s just opening an office in Shaftesbury as a satelite to the London office and wanted a big slab of beautiful wood as a meeting table / worksurface. We both love elm and I managed to source some lovely stuff at over 5 metres long for this. We made two tops, the main one is 3 metres long, the other a metre shorter. They will look fab once in.

Zmma Top 2Zmma Tops 3

As always finding it was a challenge, then working around all the faults. There is never as much as you’d like and compromises have to be made, but Adam seems over the moon with them and has found some lovely old cast iron trestles to sit them on. I took some convincing on this but actually they do look cool a very minimal, achieving that ‘floating’ look he wanted.

CS Wimpole St Tab

Next through has been a very simple but stylish table frame for a large glass top table. This is another job through Carter Shott, the London interior designers, and as ever they seem to have great ideas and a real eye for detail, without going over the top. The frame is effectively 2 curved panels in walnut stuck back to back with a ‘stitch’ detail running down the join. We used a low iron 15mm glass which is less green in colour. Looked great but none of us are looking forward to getting up 3 floors of stairs!

During Purbeck Art Weeks we had various existing clients come back to us for new work. One of these jobs has just been completed and we are very pleased with it, partly because we just enjoy working for them, and partly because it was such an interesting job with some new finishes.
Newbold BH and MirrorNewbold De

Last year we played around with bleaching ash and had great results on the ‘Banquet Table’, so we thought we would try it out on this bedroom furniture. We combined it with some more tabu coloured birds eye maple veneers, this time a subtle olive green. The results are really stunning and a bit of a change from ‘woody’ palette we are used to. Perhaps we just aren’t afraid of colour any more. So we made a pair of bedheads and a mirror to hang over the top. They are now talking about new bedside tables so this may run and run.

July is looking interesting, me and the wife are expecting our second baby – no we don’t what it is, and on top of that John is getting married to Emily. It’s going to be a busy month, but not here in the workshop. We’ve planned an Italian style shutdown for a few weeks, so everyone is having a break.