Natural materials are big news in the interiors world for 2017. Last year was all about marble, copper and palm tree prints, but this year natural materials such as wood, stone and other metals will be taking the spotlight.
Want to emulate Lady Bamford’s serene aesthetic for your own home? Spencer Fung, the designer behind Daylesford and Bamford Haybarn spa, has published a book charting how natural materials, such as wood and stone, have guided some of his favourite interiors and architectural projects. If you like what you see in Architecture by Hand (£35, Clearview Books) you’ll love his new furniture collection inspired by nature. Standout pieces include a wall lamp carved from raw oak and the skeletal ash ‘Bone’ chair (below).
Here we chatted to Spencer about his design aesthetic, favourite materials and how he sources natural materials…
How would you describe your aesthetic? I love nature and nature is my true inspiration. Natural, simple, timeless approaches and the textures of my work are fresh, warm and tactile. I have deep respect for heritage and culture in my work.
How do materials influence your work with design and interiors? I love to use natural materials like wood, stone, metal, woven materials, etc. I go to local sources like quarries and fields to find raw materials for my work. I look carefully at the natural forms and textures and very often they will develop and inform the final look of my projects. I use noble materials like marble, stone, timber, bronze and iron, leather and linen because they are good, practical and beautiful materials that will last for a long time and very often they develop and give beautiful patina with time and use. They are also really good and resilient for recycling.
What’s the material you think more interior designers should be working with? I think everyone should use natural materials. They are a joy to work with and to live with. I hope my book (Architecture by Hand) inspires readers to seek the natural beauty around you.
Are you careful about where you source your materials from? What’s the best thing about British craftsmanship? I love to source materials locally and to work with the British craftsmen and I often spent long hours at the work benches witnessing the very rich heritage of skills and techniques. It is always a challenge to apply to innovative contemporary designs when using traditional skills.
Are other countries better than the UK at working with their natural resources? I enjoy travelling in Europe, Asia, Africa and also America to see the local traditions and learn from the historical influences, as well as their various ways of using natural materials.
What was the starting point for your furniture line? I always wanted to design furniture and started designing it for my home. My furniture collections started with the visionary fashion guru Joseph Ettedgui; who commissioned 15 pieces of my geometric dark wood furniture in 1998 for his beautiful Brompton Cross Joseph stores. Ralph Pucci asked me to design three collections of furniture for the New York Chelsea furniture gallery around 1999 and it carried on from there…
How do you approach differing design projects? For example, the renovation of the Berkeley Hotel pool and Daylesford aesthetic? Is there any overlap between the two despite their country and town locations?
Every piece of my work is unique and different. The Berkeley Hotel pool is one of the best kept secrets of London, when one can swim with an open roof with the view of the tree tops of Hyde Park and it has attracted many discerned members and clientele. I respected the long history behind the private club and added a fresh look and ambience using noble materials like white and graphite marble, bronze, precious hand cut mosaics, black and white sofas, arm chairs and benches inspired by woven wood and natural forms, leather and linen upholstery.
For Daylesford, I was inspired by the impressive and honest farm architecture and the local landscape of woodlands and fields. The barns were built in impressive thick local stone walls and chunky timber trusses. I was happy and excited to develop different ways to use local materials sourced nearby and it has been a true joy to work with the very experienced local masons, blacksmiths, carpenters and weavers to create such a beautiful environment.
Get the look
If you’ve ever wanted to get your hands on the Bamford or Daylesford interiors, now you can with Spencer’s furniture collection. Mix some of his pieces with simple clean interiors for a touch of the calm and elegance you’ll see in any of his designed spaces.