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Posts Tagged ‘Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers’

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.

Double Prize Winning Design

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Simon Thomas Pirie and Tony Portus of Makers’ Eye have scooped their second major design award for the St Hugh’s / Dickson Poon China Centre Desk. The Furniture Company’s prestigious Design Guild Mark is awarded to drive excellence and raise the profile of British design and innovation. The Award recognises the highest standards in the design of furniture for volume production, by the finest designers working in Britain, or British designers working abroad.

This follows the same project winning in the furniture prize of The Wood Awards in November. So our one desk now holds two of the most recognised and coveted awards in British furniture design.

Tony and Simon received the award – Design Guild Mark no. 142 at a special event and seminar to discuss British design during Clerkenwell Design Week 2015. Other winners that night included Samuel Chan of Channels, Sir Terrence Conran, Mark Gabbertas, Rodney Kinsman as well as Robin Day and Ernest Race for classic pieces. There is a comprehensive round up plus images on Wallpaper.com In all 21 Design Guild Marks were awarded this year out of a shortlist of 50.

The St Hugh’s College / Dickson Poon China Centre project, for which we made 63 of these desks in oak also had other pieces like folding tables, academics desks, bookshelves and occasional tables as part of the furniture package. In all there were nearly 200 items of solid oak furniture designed by Simon & Tony. The manufacturing was spread across 4 bespoke furniture workshops – Waywood, Matthew Burt, Tim Hawkins and Simon Thomas Pirie. This is the great strength of the Makers’ Eye model – to be able to use some of the best furniture workshops in the country and make use of their skill sets and working capacity. The result was delivery of all the items in just 3 months – on time and on budget.

The ‘Poon’ Desk as it is now known was always the signature piece in the range. It comes in two sizes – 1.8 and 1.6 m long and currently two timbers – the original European oak and now in black walnut as seen here. The desk can be purchased through Makers’ Eye as a one off but we are also keen to sell more to institutions and corporations. The range of products will be expanded to include tables and chairs very soon. Bespoke variations can also be created for specific situations whether it’s a one-off or multiple.

More information:

There is a full article on the project and the other pieces we designed for St Hugh’s College and the Dickson Poon Centre, click here.

You can order the Poon desk and see more images and the specifications on the Makers Eye Website, click here.

The Furniture Makers Company

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

I became a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers last week. More commonly called the Furniture Makers Company, or just The Company, it is one of the 108 Livery Companies of the City of London. Other well known designers were admitted at the same time as me, including Jake Phipps, Russell Pinch and James McBennett. It was John Makepeace who nominated and sponsored me to join. It’s hard to say no to the godfather of British bespoke furniture! Really looking forward to getting more involved with WCFM and very honored to be asked.

The Company, never afraid to innovate, strives to maintain a high degree of relevance to the modern furnishing industry through its many and varied activities. Following a merger with the Furnishing Industry Trust (Formally The Furnishing Trades Benevolent Association) in 2011, the Company has become the most significant charity in the sector, supporting the needy and promoting welfare and education of those entering and working within the industry, as well as the wider support of the charitable work of the Mayoralty and the Corporation of the City of London.

Its Guild Mark scheme, a modern equivalent of the trading standards once regulated by the medieval guilds, gives accreditation to designers, craftsmen and manufacturers exhibiting the highest standards of British furniture production.

To find out more about the Furniture Makers Company and their work visit the website…