Blonde & Noir – The Special Edition Floating Benches

A Design Classic from a Dorset Furniture Making Studio

It’s been an extraordinary few years for the Floating Bench. It was sold through Liberty’s as part of their ‘Outdoor Living Collection’ and was hailed as a “design classic of the future” by the Independent Weekend Magazine. More recently in collaboration with Sitting Spiritually of Lyme Regis it became the darling of the Chelsea Flower Show where it was shortlisted for ‘RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year 2016’, featured in two RHS Gold Award winning gardens, was featured on BBC TV coverage and seemed to be all over the printed media. To top it off in 2017 it was awarded a prestigious ‘Design Guild Mark’ by the Furniture Makers’ Company. It’s a product which has a clear design pedigree.

There is little doubt the scorched finish and texture that we are at the forefront of creating with the original two-tone Floating Bench was one of the big hits of recent years, 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 ‘Noir’ and ‘Blonde’ special edition Floating Benches…

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 oak 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.

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.

Playing the Blonde and Noir special edition benches off one another was great 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.

Of course we shouldn’t forget the original Two-Tone Floating Bench here. It is still 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. These special edition Floating Benches have certainly broadened the client base and interest.

Buy your own Floating Bench Direct

Blonde and Noir special edition Floating Benches and the Two-Tone original version are available in generously proportioned 2 and 3 seat versions through Simon Thomas Pirie:

2 seater version – (dimensions 145cm x 56cm x 78cm high)
‘Blonde’ or ‘Two-Tone Original’ – £2750
‘Noir’ – £2950

3 seater version – (dimensions 180cm x 56cm x 78cm high)
‘Blonde’ or ‘Two-Tone Original’ – £2950
‘Noir’ – £3150

The above costs include VAT but exclude delivery costs. These range from free for local deliveries (30 mile radius from STP workshops) to anywhere from £100 – £250 for UK deliveries depending on distance. For overseas dispatch please contact us to make specific arrangements.

The Floating Bench and its sister piece – the Yakisugi Swing Seat, which is exclusively through Sitting Spiritually of Lyme Regis, form part of their ‘Simon Thomas Pirie Contemporary Range’, both of which feature in this film…

You can find out more about our Sitting Spiritually collaboration by clicking here…

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

All Images taken by Double Exposure Photographic.

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