Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

In Conversation

In Conversation: Alfred Newall

After training at the Building Crafts College and working for Plain English Design Ltd, Alfred Newall established his Cabinet Making workshop in London and Sussex. Designing and making furniture inspired by historic pieces using traditional methods of joinery, his focus has always been on the qualities of simple design and proportion. Each piece is approached with a sensitivity towards the natural qualities of the wood, combining functionality, longevity and sustainably sourced materials.

Discover  Alfred’s inspiration, dream projects and what a day in the life of a modern craftsman looks like in today’s conversation.

Dear Alfred, first of all, I would like to know when did your love affair with wooden furniture start?

I always loved making things as a child. Furniture making then came whilst I was at school. I made friends with a technician who taught me to turn wooden bowls on a lathe from lumps found in local woodland. This then went on to become furniture making. I remember the excitement this gave me, being fully engrossed in a project and not able to think of much else during my other lessons!

alfred newall workshop with bobbin tables

Can you describe to us what a day in the life of a modern craftsman looks like?

A year ago my wife and I moved to Sussex where I set up a studio and workshop at the foot of the South Downs. We live 2 miles away and I bicycle along an ancient coach road each morning. I meet with my team at 8am and we have coffee and talk through what each maker has planned for the day. It’s great working with others and seeing multiple pieces of furniture come alive. We work on individual pieces but often help each other along the way. I spend the first couple of hours at my desk working on drawings and emails but try to get down to my work bench as soon as I can as that’s what I enjoy most. The days whizz past fast – making furniture occupies me mentally and physically in a lovely way. I aim to be back home with my wife and two little children at about 5.30pm, very dusty and ready for bath time.

What are the pieces you enjoy the most working on? What are the one or ones that have challenged you the most?

The variety of my work is refreshing. Bespoke pieces often bring challenges and overcoming them is satisfying and gives a sense of achievement. I also love developing new furniture and products. For the last couple of months I have been developing and prototyping a rush seated chair, working with a local rush weaver. I especially enjoy the collaboration element.

alfred newall collaboration with the new craftsmen

alfred newall collaboration with the new craftsmenAlfred Newall collection for The New Craftsmen

Alfred Newall Bobbin tableMy Bobbin table by Alfred Newall – one of my favourite pieces at home!

Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration for me is in good supply. I am always seeing things I like and admire. It can be in local sale rooms, antique dealers‘ websites, historic furniture and design books or just catching a glimpse of something in the background in a film. In fact, I made a large oak table for a private dining room based on a table I’d seen in a set from The Crown.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

For me the reward is in seeing the furniture come together and look great. There is research and preparation before the method. The material has to be treated with respect and carefully handled. Quite often many components come together to make one piece and they need to be worked independently. It really is exciting when it comes together as one. It is also of course great when your client is happy and gets pleasure from the work.

alfred newall bobbin shelves octavia dickinson
Alfred Newall’s bobbin shelf in Octavia Dickinson London Flat featured in House & Garden. Rachel Whiting photography. 
Beata Heuman utility room
Utility room by Beata Heuman with cupboards by Alfred Newall. House & Garden. Paul Massey photography.

 

Alfred Newall Bobbin mirrorAlfred Newall’s new bobbin mirror  (available in any size or finish.)

What would be your ultimate dream project?

I really love ancient buildings. I feel my furniture looks best as a sum of parts in an environment or space. Whether it be the architecture of a building or works of art on a wall or other furniture in the room, if it all works together it’s a wonderful thing. My wife and I bought a 16th Century timber framed cottage and we plan on decorating it together with my vernacular furniture and her beautiful decorative painting – I’m really looking forward to that!

Tess NewallAlfred’s wife, Tess Newall hand-painting the medieval beams of their cottage. Tess is a wonderful decorative artist. Talk about a talented couple!

tess newall lampshades and alfred newall bobbin lampBobbin lamp by Alfred Newall and hand-painted lampshade by  Tess Newall.

In Conversation: Jorge Perez Martin

Spanish born Cotswolds based, Jorge Perez Martin started his career as an Antique dealer 20 years ago. What was born as a hobby is now Brownrigg, a successful business run by Jorge and his partner David Gibson. Their store in Tetbury is a treasure trove for any lover of beautiful things, with a mix of sought-after antiques and decorative pieces.

With a loyal UK and international clientele and a strong social media presence followed by thousands, they have become a go-to destination for interior designers, decorators and private clients alike.

In today’s conversation, we discover more about the dynamic life of an antique dealer, the joys of Instagram and real advice for anyone who wants to make it in the industry.

Jorge Perez Martin and David from BrownriggThe Brownrigg team: Jorge Perez Martin, David Gibson and Nora.

Dear Jorge, what prompted you to start a career as an antique dealer?

It was when I first came to England in my early twenties and a good friend introduced me to the joys of weekend antique searches. It all rather took me by surprise and within no time I was hooked and an unexpected redundancy a couple of years later gave me the push and opportunity to open my first small shop. The rest is sort of history…like many, I had my fair share of financial wobbles, as buying temptations got the better of me! It is only in the last 15 years that we’ve been able to scale the business up and develop it properly as I was forced to admit that my creative spirit can be a dangerous skill and somewhat powerless without the ability to manage and control the business side of things. Never perfect harmony but it works for us and hopefully our clients find things that enrich their lives and homes.

Have you always been interested in interior design and antiques when you were growing up?

 Looking back there were early signs in childhood but very limited with much hidden beneath the surface. I think this is how it starts for so many of us in this industry…..especially if you are not fortunate enough to have grown up in an environment filled with antiques and art. In some ways, this is a blessing as it means you do not have quite the same pre-conceptions of what is right or wrong.

What catches your eye when you are looking for new pieces for your shop.

The variety has no bounds and continually surprises us both. I think I’ve found the perfect piece or look and then something completely different comes into sight and its ‘all change’! I hope this never ends as it’s what gets me going every morning.

For the last four years, you have been renovating your home in the countryside with your partner David. What was the most challenging part and the best lesson you’ve learnt in the renovation process? 

I really have to come clean on this. I might take the pictures for Instagram, but a renovation, architecture and design are really not my strengths and David has been the lead and creative on the Gloucestershire house; having cut his teeth on his London house and our old place in West Sussex. I’m afraid I struggle to sit through one architect or project management meeting……let alone think about details around lighting, plumbing, bathrooms or kitchens. The house is part Georgian and part C18th and having spent three years with builders we are now really getting started on the interior. My forte is styling and together it works…..naturally I am trying to muscle in on everything now its got to the fun bit!

You are an avid Instagram user- has this platform been helpful to grow your business?

Definitely. It has been a fun and productive addition to our social media presence and very much an area where I have been able to build on a visual and creative platform that benefits and supports our website.

What is the best advice you can give to someone who is starting their career in the Antiques field.

Be brave and follow your gut instincts as those who are lucky enough to have a ‘good eye’ will find it a richly rewarding experience. I am always telling David how lucky he is to have the benefit of my ‘good eye’…….at which point he raises his ‘good eyebrow’ and presents me with a Zoom invite to meet with our accountant and a draft VAT return to check though……….

Thanks so much, Jorge!

All images courtesy of Brownrigg.

For more information visit:

https://www.brownrigg-interiors.co.uk/

https://www.instagram.com/brownrigguk/

https://www.instagram.com/shopatbrownrigg/

Brownrigg – 14 Long Street, Tetbury
Gloucestershire GL8 8AQ

In Conversation: Gemma Martinez de Ana

‘A touch of luxury in life can provide a wealth of happiness’ says creative director and Bonadea founder Gemma Martinez de Ana. Spanish born London based, Gemma has always been attracted to beautifully made things. Discover her advice on tabletop, her recent collaboration with Fabergé, what’s on her Christmas wishlist and more on today’s conversation.

Anna Moody photography.

You have recently designed four collector boxes for Fabergé to mark their exciting collaboration with Legado and Rome de Bellegarde. Where did the inspiration come from for these one-of-a-kind pieces? 

These four unique works were inspired by the legendary journeys of the three houses, from East to West, which ran in parallel through the 1900s and started with Fabergé in St Petersburg.

This beautiful city and the works of Peter Carl Fabergé were my starting point. I had the opportunity to see the world’s largest collection of Fabergé works when I travelled to Russia and I wanted to look at this rich past and combine historical references to create an imaginary journey that was romantic and poetic.

Each of the four collector’s boxes connects the pieces inside and their different worlds to create a cohesive story between the heritage of each house and their future legacy.

Faberge box designed by Gemma Martinez de Ana

The London box, designed and produced by Gemma Martinez de Ana. Anna Moody photography.

Gemma Martinez de Ana collector boxes for Faberge

St Petersburg, Cognac and Barbados boxes. Anna Moody photography.

Which part of it did you enjoy the most? Which one was the most challenging?

For me, the initial stages of research and the possibility of combining different materials was very exciting. In particular, the idea of blending something humble from nature like straw with precious gemstones was irresistible. I worked with an incredible team of experts at Fabergé who set the precious stones we used in the designs.

The boxes were entirely made by master artisans in England using eight highly specialist skills, so unique artisanal craft was very much at the heart of the project. To bring the painterly designs to life we used truly artistic marquetry techniques done entirely by hand, so with over 100 hours of painstaking handwork to lay the straw for one box alone, the biggest challenge in the process was time.

Gemma Martinez de Ana creative design for FabergeDetail of a moodboard created by Gemma for the design of the boxes

As the founder and creative director of Bonadea, you are well known for your tabletop passion, when did this start?

I fell in love with tableware as a young girl playing with my grandmothers’ collection, and I was always fascinated by the beautiful patterns found on porcelain and crystal.

Even at a very young age I would save my pocket money to buy something beautiful rather than candy, but still I never envisaged making a career out of it.

I also remember my childhood big family lunches and dinners with particular fondness, and those memories are of great inspiration. I love entertaining and I love storytelling, and am passionate about creating the perfect table settings for my guests.

Bonadea Pink Roses glassware set

Glassware, tray and coasters part of  Bonadea collection.

What would be the one staple you would recommend to splurge on?

Cutlery, it’s definitely worth investing in a good quality and beautifully designed set.

Not only will it last generations, but a good quality set of cutlery will make any meal special and elevate any table setting, just in the same way a good handbag or pair of shoes will make an outfit.

I am crazy for bamboo these days!

bamboo cutlery bonadeaGemma’s favourite bamboo cutlery.

What are the key ingredients to a beautiful tablescape?

I very much love layering, using colour and mixing family heirlooms with new pieces.

When I am hosting, I always take into consideration the occasion, the menu and my guests as a starting point, and the only rule I follow is that of laying the individual pieces correctly, then a pretty plate, floral touches, candlelight and a nice bottle of wine will do the rest!

What’s the best souvenir you’ve brought home?

I love anything finely crafted and during a trip to Japan, I found the most incredible tea bowl in Kyoto and lacquer pieces in Kanazawa.

Although my family would probably argue the best souvenir I ever brought home was Tokyo banana cake, and matcha kit-kat also from Japan.

What’s on your Christmas wish list?

Many books, a silk pyjama set and Pinto’s orchid Plateshopefully Santa is listening!

Gemma Martinez de Ana tablesetting‘Histoires d’Orchidees’ dinner plates by Alberto Pinto available at Bonadea

Thank you so much Gemma!

For the most exquisite tabletop selection visit http://www.bonadea.com