British bespoke: the resurgence of handcrafted interiors
British designers are in increasing demand around the globe for their high quality of craftsmanship and traditional skills. Big international audiences are attracted to events that showcase these skills, such as Clerkenwell Design Week and the London Design Festival.
More people are discovering the many benefits of opting for handmade furniture and décor for their homes and workplaces. Duration is a big factor here. Most furniture nowadays is made from materials that are the most inexpensive to produce, and costs are kept low by reliance on machinery that ensures all products are identical. The end result may look good but will be made from pressed wood and related flimsy materials. The majority of such furniture does not last long. Environmental friendliness is also a major advantage of avoiding mass produced items, for example, in the choice of natural wooden window shutters from British firms.
Handcrafted furniture, in contrast, will last a very long time and will be completely original, created by a master artisan and made using quality, solid wood. Such items will also be bespoke pieces that blend in and complement a home’s existing décor to perfection. There are also many different types of finishing available, such as hand-stained, designed to bring out the full character of the wood.
The popularity of handcrafted furniture is reflected in numerous surveys that show that over 80% of people, given the chance, would opt for quality, real wood, handcrafted furniture over cheaper but blander and flimsier alternatives.
British furniture designers concentrate on a strong design that is functional, appealing and honest, and which often presents a challenge to preconceptions. The industry is dominated by creative, committed and highly driven individuals all striving to make a mark in the world of contemporary furniture design.
Fusion of old and new
One recent innovation that has had a profound effect on the resurgence of handcrafted interiors is the emergence of computer-aided tools for both design and manufacture. This marrying of traditional methods with advanced manufacturing techniques has thrown up many innovative and interesting results. The likes of Matthew Hilton and Jasper Morrison have been pushing the boundaries in this respect, and as personalisation becomes easier to achieve, there will be a great growth of bespoke furniture coming onto the market. Consumers are increasingly looking for original designs, and traditional craftsmanship is gaining in appreciation as a result.
A solid future for British bespoke furniture
Firms such as Paul Case Furniture, Tom Raffield and Mark have seen the British consumer and industry alike grow in identity and confidence hugely in recent years. Paul Case for one reckons that, love them or hate them, IKEA have to be thanked for kicking the whole process off by encouraging us to think outside the box and finally dump the chintz several decades back. Tom Raffield reckons that consumers are recognising the value of furniture that has been made to a high standard in the UK rather than mass produced in places such as China and Eastern Europe. The message has been taken on board that it will physically last longer, and that it will become more meaningful and cherished over time because of the workmanship that has gone into it.