John Tanous
Handcrafted, bespoke furniture for life

Once a pre-eminent fine art frame-maker in Fulham working for all the major museums, art galleries and renowned early 20th-century artists, now John Tanous is famed  for producing handcrafted, bespoke furniture in Sussex. The change of direction took place in 1994 when Carl Wenstrom took on the company and moved furniture manufacture to the forefront – a decision that has proved to be a resounding success. Clients range from top interior designers to architectural practices who, through their global reach, have led John Tanous furniture to be featured everywhere from public spaces in hotels and palaces to dining rooms in traditional members’ clubs and private residences.

The development of new products is driven by top interior designers who require exceptional solutions to complex and unusual problems

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of prestigious one-off pieces being commissioned. Today John Tanous manufactures less volume but finer pieces, of greater value, that often form the central focus of a design project. Woodworking lies at the heart of the business: the team of experienced and talented craftsmen looks after all cabinetry in-house, employing a combination of old- school, hands-on skills and modern technology to facilitate highly accurate and cost-effective production. Using equipment such as digital saws and speed sanders allows the craftsmen to dedicate more time to the intricate elements of cabinetmaking; laser cutters ensure that all veneer work, from simple cross-banded panels to marquetry, is executed to the tightest tolerances.

When creating a particularly unusual piece, John Tanous will often incorporate materials such as brass, stainless steel, nickel plating, bronze patinas, powder coatings and cold spray metal bonded finishes. Perspex has been used in custom block forms to great effect on upholstery legs; the team has also developed techniques to integrate desktop vinyls into tabletop surfaces as well as inset leather tops with metal banding. All upholstery – which can be tailored in size, fabric and finish – is handcrafted in solid beech wood frames in Sussex.

As a bespoke manufacturer, the development of new products at the company is driven by the needs of top interior designers who require exceptional solutions to complex and unusual problems. ‘When we went to John Tanous we had a number of issues that needed to be addressed,’ recalls Kate Earle of Todhunte Earle Interiors. ‘We found Carl was able to comprehend what was required and make it happen. He not only came up with some excellent design solutions but then maintained a close involvement with the project right the way through to completion.’

The company’s problem-solving approach can also lead to the development of new trends. For instance, an increase in demand for specialist and high gloss finishes has led to the introduction of self-clamping techniques so that, post-finish, the company can assemble the furniture without risk of damage to the lacquered finish. This is an exciting breakthrough and over the next 12 months the company is aiming to develop more complicated shapes and angled pieces. With their strong design expertise, using only the highest-quality materials, this is a company that can creatively adapt to meet virtually any furniture manufacturing challenge.