British Furniture can conjure images of smoke stained chesterfield sofas, mahogany dressers or antique wood-wormed wardrobes. But the British furniture industry is experiencing a renaissance, combining an unparalleled history of craftsmanship, quality materials and eccentricity, with a more modern pulse. These are the 10 you need to know about, each with their own unique history, style and production manifesto.
Founded by David Snowdon, formerly David Linley in 1985, Linley creates bespoke furniture, as well as interiors, collectable pieces and luxury gifts and accessories, all showcasing the finest British design and craftsmanship. Almost everything is designed and made in the UK, relying on a network of 260 master craftsmen who all share David’s love of handcrafted design and attention to detail. Renowned British furniture designer, Matthew Hilton, collaborated with Linley on the new Savile Furniture Collection –a departure from the private commission tradition, creating a range that could be ‘tailored’ rather than bespoke. Each piece has been created to it can be configured to meet many spaces, from an office studio to an open-plan penthouse.
Predominantly an interior designer, Nina Campbell’s furniture constitutes all that was missing when sourcing furniture for client projects. As the interior designer herself, she comments ‘I would like to think that I approach it from a practical point of view as well as an aesthetics view as I like to know how I can use every piece that we make’. Though a veteran of luxury British interiors, Nina Campbell seeks to evolve with clients, adopting new looks and modern twists on traditional classics, such as contemporary Ralph chair in Duccio Indigo – a warming colour and fabric, harking back to opulent Britannia while assuming a shape far more in line with the modern living space.
Ochre designs furniture, lighting and accessories for the interior, placing great importance on harmonious proportions, luxury materials and matchless craftsmanship. Ochre was founded in 1996 by Joanna Bibby and Harriet Maxwell Macdonald, sharing an aesthetic for the beauty of the understated. Solenne de la Fouchariere became the third partner and fellow designer four years later. Along with selling directly to individuals, OCHRE’s clients are leading international interior designers and architects. Their furniture sticks to a clear brief, across the board: ‘discreet glamour’.
‘Marrying elegance with practicality for furniture that is built to last.’ Founded in 1968 in Preston, Lancashire, Tetrad is one of the UK’s finest upholstery businesses. It built its reputation on producing fine quality sofas, chairs and stools with hardwood frames built to last, offering a variety of suspension options and high-quality fabrics and hides. Tetrad uses Harris Tweed in a wide range of furniture, typifying that British heritage and tradition. This heritage style has been combined with a more modern thrust within their recent furniture collections, appealing to a more dynamic audience still prioritising this quality craftsmanship and decades of experience.
Inspired by nature, made by hand and shaped by steam, the Tom Raffield in Cornwall incorporates innovative steam bending techniques and sustainable design practices to create contemporary wooden furniture and lighting. With an experimental workshop set among six acres of ancient Cornish woodland, Tom Raffield designs are synonymous with nature, created as sculptural pieces of art inspired by the natural environment around them.
Catchpole & Rye may hail from a small English village – Pluckey in Kent – but this fine bathroom company has tapped into a niche market, to become a major player in the industry worldwide and one of the UK’s most prestigious brands. The desire to preserve the beauty of exquisite antiques inspired the firm to make original copies by staying true to the traditional methods used throughout history. The baths are poured using the same techniques that have been employed for the past 100 years. Moreover, it takes a highly skilled polisher a whole week to hand-polish one of the cast-iron baths to achieve its signature glimmering sheen. Equipped to assist with a complete bathroom overhaul, Catchpole & Rye’s full offering includes beautiful copper baths, cast-iron French roll-top baths, elegant console basins, polished cast metal cisterns and a variety of bathroom taps and showers.
Max Rollitt cut his teeth working as an apprentice to Frearson and Hewlett, an antique furniture restoration workshop supporting the top London trade. His extensive experience in the field has developed an inherent sensitivity towards the materials and classical architectural elements that are condensed in the decorative arts. His classical, elegant aesthetic is teamed with an informal edge, a style that has become his trademark.
In the early 19th century, John Harris Heal but an end to straw mattresses in London, introducing French-style, feather-filled mattresses to London homeowners. His widow Fanny, and their son, John Harris Junior continued to reform the British bedding industry, offering French wool stuffing- a revolutionary idea in Victorian times. Ambrose Heal Junior joined the fold in 1893 with the mantra ‘if in doubt, innovate’, pushing British design stands and knighted in 1933 for his contributions to the industry. For over two centuries, Heals has continued to celebrate the art of hand tools and green woodworking techniques, from the traditional Windsor chair to the iconic Arts and Crafts furniture. From the traditional Windsor chair to iconic Arts and Crafts furniture. Their Modern British collection takes these shapes and details, evolving them for a fresh take on a classic look.
Touted the world’s most luxurious sleeping system, Savoir beds are renowned for their high standards and comfort philosophy. Created for The Savoy Hotel in London in 1905, their tailor-made beds have become almost as legendary as the stars who have slept in them. Think ‘bespoke on bespoke’, making any size, shape, stand alone or headboard beautifully upholstered or even made fit into an existing frame. Savoir uses quality, natural materials from long, curled Latin American horse tail to Mongolian cashmere and British lamb’s wool. With each bed made in London or Wales, tailored to each customer, the craftsmen will label each completed job like an artist on a painting. Their mantra? ‘A Savoir bed is an investment that pays off every morning of your life’.
Beaumont & Fletcher’s handmade furniture sticks tightly to a brief of traditional methods and materials, made in England, naturally. Founder, John Crowell, restored furniture in his youth., spending summer holidays stripping down chaise longues and rebuilding them under the watchful eye of a retired master upholsterer. Naming his company after two successful playwrights, Beaumont & Fletcher’s furniture reflects a dramatic theatrical style.