In today’s retail environment with mass produced products purchased from generic retail outlets, commissioning furniture is a unique experience.
To have a piece of furniture designed especially for you, taking into account all of your requirements, whether it is a specific design idea or style, or to fulfil a space and functional requirement, is an exciting and deeply satisfying process, which results in a rare and unique piece of furniture.
The first meeting is an opportunity for me to gather as much information as possible. Some clients know exactly what they want, from the style of the piece through to the timber to be used and the finish, however, most clients are only certain of the function, for example; it is a cabinet to hold or display something specific, or a table and chair to seat a certain number of people.
I determine size, proportion, your sense of style, what timber you may or may not like, where the piece is to sit and whether I need to take into account the design of the house or other furniture in the environment. The function of the piece may also restrict the materials which can be used and what finish to apply.
Determining your budget at this stage is also important because this will have an enormous bearing on the final design and construction.
Designing a piece is an organic process, where I put all of the information together, work on a number of ideas, which are then put to the client, usually through hand drawn concept designs. Alterations are made to accommodate the client’s feedback.
Agreement on the final design, materials, finish and price and the approval to proceed with the project will follow with a deposit of between 30-50% to be paid. This is to cover the cost of materials and for work to begin. It is at this point that an estimated time of delivery can be made.
Upon receipt of the deposit work begins, usually with the selection of timber. A lot of time will be spent individually selecting boards for colour, grain, quality and purpose. The timber will be milled, thicknessed and edged. The timber is often required to sit for a while to remove any stresses and for the moisture content to reach equilibrium.
The intense hard work begins with the accurate dimensioning in preparation for the marking out. Creating the joinery is the really enjoyable and rewarding part of the project, it is here where I have to be on my toes, this continues until I remove the clamps after the glue up and the piece sits there naked without the finish.
The sanding and final prep for finishing is a lengthy process all of its own, which requires a calm determined approach. After the application of the finish and then the fitting of any required hardware; such as handles, the piece is ready for delivery.
Throughout the making process the client is kept up to date through e-mail and telephone calls. Any visits to the workshop to see the progress is welcomed.
The delivery of the piece of furniture is the culmination of an exciting journey for me. For the client the journey continues…
I once read, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.Thirston Morris