If you’re thinking about commissioning a piece of bespoke furniture to complete your interior design scheme, the Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design hosted at The Thirlestone Long Gallery in Cheltenham each August, may be just the place to visit.
Established by Betty Norbury in 1994 as a place for furniture designer/makers to celebrate their craft and exhibit their work, the Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design has evolved under the directorship of award winning furniture maker Jason Heap, attracting visitors from far and wide to enjoy the 300 exhibits from over 70 skilled craftspeople.
With an emphasis on furniture, you will also find other disciplines such as sculpture, art and decorative glass. Every item is exquisitely crafted and the care and attention that has gone into the making of each piece is striking.
There is innovation too, not only in the creativity of the designs but also in the materials used and the limits to which those materials have been stretched to create many pieces that are worthy of ‘art’ status.
The low cost to exhibit furniture to the show makes things interesting, as it enables makers from fledgling workshops to display alongside more established design collectives, each with their own unique style and narrative.
Furniture can be both bought and commissioned at the exhibition and many of the makers are in attendance to talk about their work. I had the pleasure of meeting Sam Ring who shared the story of the elm tree that was used to form his Frame Shelves and the process he used to create the Danish cord for his Scandinavian inspired chair. This gives the exhibition a truly personal feel, and a real sense of the passion the designer/makers have for their craft.
So why commission a piece of bespoke furniture? Part of the experience of having a space interior designed is to create a space that is unique to you and your family, unique to your personality, lifestyle and aesthetic. Not only is it about the way in which a decorative scheme is put together but it can also be about choosing furniture that reflects your individual style. Investing in an item that you have commissioned and had a hand in designing, a piece with personal significance gives the furniture provenance and ensures it a special place in your home for many years to come. And not only does commissioning furniture keep traditional crafts alive, buying from local designer/makers promotes sustainability, guarantees quality and may not be as expensive as you think.
Other favourite pieces from this year’s exhibition include (clockwise from top left) Alan Flannery’s Fleure Side Table, Daniel Gill’s Ladies Writing Table, Laurent Peacock’s Piper III Coffee Table, Irene Banham’s All Angles Lamp, Jan Waterson’s Velo Chair//1, Jason Heap’s Watul Table and Roland Smith’s Wave Bedside Table.
My thanks go to Alan Flannery Furniture Design for the kind invitation to attend CCD18. The feature image at the top of the page is a sculpture by Simon Conolly from his series ‘Birders’. And thank you to the designer/makers mentioned for use of their images. Please do get in touch if you would like advice in commissioning a piece of furniture for your own interior design scheme: