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Posts Tagged ‘Zoe Cull’

All the Saints

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Morden Nave Altar 6

At Simon Thomas Pirie Ltd we pride ourselves in being able to turn our hand to any furniture-related job be it big or small. This year we have been fortunate to have been approached by three separate local churches to help them with very different projects. Working within the architecture of these beautiful sacred spaces always gives us lots of scope for dramatic designs that domestic furniture rarely enjoys. There are also millennia of history, faith, tradition and religious practice to draw on and sometimes move away from. Fertile creative ground!

Morden Nave Altar 4Morden Nave Altar 2The first of these projects, a new nave altar, was for St Mary’s Church in Morden. On visiting this unusually light and airy Parish church, Simon was immediately struck by the beautiful way in which the nave arch and the West window followed the exact same curve and so it made perfect sense to replicate this feature in the under-frame of the altar table. The whole thing is made from solid oak with the top constructed from 11 separate shaped pieces, this is emphasised by a small v-groove running along the length of the top creating a visibly grooved surface. 5 simple crosses are inscribed slightly deeper into the top of the altar joining the v-grooves. It’s a simple but striking detail. Now taking its place under the nave arch, the altar complements the simple beauty of the church interior.

Morden Nave Altar 3de

The next piece is a frontal chest, used for the storing the altar cloths in St Andrew’s Church in Fontmell Magna. It was commissioned by a couple for whom this church is very important; the piece is both a gift to the church and a lasting memorial to a grown-up son who sadly passed away recently. Again made entirely out of solid oak this large cabinet is solely for hanging and airing altar cloths that only get used at very specific times of the religious calendar.

Fontmell Cab 2

Fontmell Cab 3 de

While being a simple piece to look at, ensuring airflow through the textiles and that they can be easily lifted out made this a challenging piece to design. It’s sheer size, governed by the cloths it has to store, also made getting the correct proportions challenging. The end result is a classic piece of English ecclesiastical furniture with a subtle hint of the contemporary with those crisp, shadow-line detailed, oak panels. The other feature that stands out are the 4 the hanging rails that break out from the frame to form the sloped lifting handles under the overhanging top. With half of the front panel and top hinging open this makes changeovers simple.

Affpuddle Chuch Gates 1

Whatley Memorial TableFinally, a commission from a church we already know well: St Laruence’s at Affpuddle is the closest church to our workshops, several years ago we also made a striking sycamore & oak memorial table for the side aisle. This time we were asked to make new gates into the churchyard. Although we were initially approached by the PCC they did have a benefactor who lived overseas but had grown-up in the parish and wanted to commission the gates as a gift to the church and as a family memorial. The new gates are a refined version of the existing gates which had been hanging for around 50 years but had become tired and started to rot. We added some subtle curved top and bottom rails and simplified the centre cross to be able to take some script for the family memorial text. We commissioned Zoe Cull of Stoneform to come up with some beautiful curved bespoke script work on the centre cruciform rails. The client asked for some locally sourced Dorset oak. We found a very nice, air-dried log through Will Miller who often sources and saws rare, local logs for us.

Affpuddle Gates new and old

Affpuddle Chuch Gates 4

These three pieces have been a joy to complete. It’s been pure chance they have all come along in quick succession but it has reminded us how much we do enjoy these ecclesiastical and institutional projects.

For more information on furniture for churches, universities and museums visit the ‘Institutional’ section of our new website.

Case Study – North Dorset Kitchen Project

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

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

Well I’ve been talking about this kitchen almost as long as I’ve been writing the blog, so it’s lovely to finally be able to show it off properly. A job like this isn’t complete in my mind until the photographers have been in and done their stuff. I say it’s a ‘kitchen’ but it spun on into major office and bar area projects as well, taking just about every hour over an 18 month period. It does look great though. Let me take you for a walk through…

This is what you see as you enter from the dining hall, that sounds a bit grand but it does feel like one of those medieval hall buildings, just on a more intimate scale. The clients also commissioned friends of mine Zoe Cull and Alex Evans of Stoneform to make a magnificent fire surround in that room as well. As a house it’s hard to place period wise, it feels very arts and crafts from the outside, bits of it are very old cob construction, while much of it was a 1980’s addition. The kitchen is an entirely new build element along with a new master bedroom and a pretty major reworking of the upstairs spaces. The work done ties it all together, but as a house it retains a quirky, idosyncratic and homely feel.

So back to the kitchen; the brief was simple; the heart of a family home – to socialise, chill, eat and be merry. It had to be beautiful but practical, modern but sensitive to the architecture, have great gadgets but only those that would get used, but most of all, have that ‘wow’ factor.

Needless to say, it’s that island, built round an Aga that is the first feature that hits you. Lots of storage in doors and drawers, as well as a breakfast bar to seat 4. It has three soft ‘D’-end cupboards which helps aid flow around the room (both visual and physical). The sharp eyed may notice something odd about the Aga – no flu pipe breaking out the back disapearing through the ceiling. It’s one of the new generation of Electric AIMS Agas and we were able to hide the flu under the floor to an outside extractor. It puts the Aga in a very different context to how you normally see them, hard up against a wall or in a chimney alcove.

The island contains slide-out spice and oil racks, a prep sink with pull-out hose tap and an induction hob, which for most of the time is covered by a sliding chopping board. The hob is a back up in case the two hot plates on the Aga are in use.

OK, we can’t ignore it any longer, the ’small’ pink fridge thing… Actually it is quite big and technically it’s ‘rose’ coloured. Made by Meneghini it oozes Italian retro style with those big chunky handles. Getting the cheese out becomes an event like opening a bank vault. As well as the fridge and a freezer there is also a wine cooler within. It’s what you might call a statement piece, but it’s also great fun and acts as a counter-balance to the darker tones and colours in the room.

The timbers used on most of the cabinetry was a specialy selected black walnut. I was looking for something that had character, but not so much it became distracting. It runs horizontally and is ’slip’ matched (without being turned), rather than the more traditional book-matched method. We also used a couple of dyed Itailian ‘Tabu’ veneers – a very simple black for the handle details and kick-boards, and a rather more vibrant pink ripple sycamore. But more of that later…

It is also worth mentioning the beautiful and unusual granite called ‘Meteorus’. I’m not sure any of these shots do it justice, close up it is black, grey and silver with layers of what look like bamboo shaped leaves cris-crossing. To top it off there are cherry red berry shaped flecks throughout. It’s like on of those Japanese screen paintings made by some Zen master with a sweep of a brush stroke. Stunning!

Before we move away from the granite I should also mention the double sink, made from that same material, a bespoke piece made by Stone Circle. That sink has two taps on it, one of which is a Quooker instant boiling water tap, making the kettle all but redundant.

If we keep walking round we get to the curved units at the back of the room. The two outer corner cabinets contain general storage, the dishwasher and the large crockery storage drawers. In the centre is one of the feature pieces of the kitchen, a tambour fronted sideboard. I love throwing in items that break up that fitted look, pieces that visually and in this case, actually, stand alone. The tambour uses the flat black veneer but reveals that bright pink ripple sycamore within when the doors are slid open. It’s like a beautiful tailored jacket lining.

In between two pairs of double doors that lead out to a patio with views of the North Dorset countryside, is another ‘piece’ of furniture – this one a modern twist on the kitchen dresser. It is actually my favourite element, perhaps because its proportions work so well, or maybe its the isolated stand-alone simplicity that appeals to me. As for function, well apart from displaying stuff on the shelves its role is to house all the breakfast items, including the all important Nespresso coffee machine. The narrow drawer is designed to store those enticing little coloured capsules in perfect order. Arranging them became a mild obsession during the photoshoot. I thought I was over it until I saw the images again! The dresser is located closest to the breakfast bar on the island. I’ve rarely gone into the house without seeing one of the family sitting there, breakfast time or not.

So we are heading back out of the room – but what’s that huge shinny black thing! Well, it’s the larder actually, full height and the best part of 4 metres long. The two outer sections are kind of walk in, at least they feel that way once the doors are open. The centre one contains the microwave and bread maker with the pan drawers below. In the outer two there is space for a generous wine rack, vegetable drawers, a granite work-surface and more storage than a UN warehouse. You get the picture. The clients wanted somewhere they could hide ALL the kitchen clutter.

The gloss black is a lacquered surface, which although dark is highly reflective. We used the same pink ripple sycamore within the handle scollops as a bit of a giveaway to what was inside. As you open the doors the lights come on to reveal the vibrant pink glow inside. A real contrast to the minimal exterior.

Turning round and looking at what we have achieved here does give me a real buzz. You get that initial ‘wow’, but it’s also all those great little details, many of which only we and the clients know about that make this kitchen so unique. It’s a room full of great furniture that happens to also be a practical kitchen, but perhaps most importantly an everyday living space.

I have to thank Kim and Peter for being brave enough to commission something so different. Of course any room like this is a collaboration of ideas between designer and client, but it takes a mutual trust for it to work out as well as this project.

We still have the office and bar area to look at which are located in a converted barn just next to the house. These projects are featured in their own case study which can be found by clicking here.

If you’d like to talk to Simon about a kitchen project please get in contact, initial conversations and ideas cost nothing. For more of our kitchen case studies click here.

All images taken by Double Exposure Photographic