If your imagination isn’t catered for by what’s already out there in the homeware scene, I say do it yourself. Or rather, have someone else make it for you – unless you have a full workshop in your backyard and the expertise to use it.
London is full of designers with well-equipped studios and fantastic skills ready to interpret your extravagant creations and turn them into finished objects, and new enclaves of cool artisans are popping up as I type.
And while the idea of ordering furniture might seem rather grand, in fact, you’d be surprised: I promise, custom-made doesn’t have to mean broke.
It won’t cost very much to add instant individuality to even the most basic furniture, seen everywhere.
My friend Barnaby Lewis has just set up a forge in his workshop in Bermondsey where he can hammer all kinds of fabulous objects for you.
I find beautiful doorknobs to be some of the hardest things to find, so I love designing them myself and having Barnaby make them. It’s such a smart way to spruce up your kitchen cabinets or wardrobe doors. A cluttered hallway could be transformed by a bespoke coat hook, or you could delight your everyday with a beautiful toilet roll holder.
Opposite Barnaby is Charlie Froud Studio. A formidable carpenter who takes a truly artistic approach to his work, Charlie is your man if you need hard-wearing shelving with dovetail joinery, for example.
Miranda Keyes knows how to handle a blowpipe and can turn your wildest slime dreams into reality. Or an appetizer with cups made by her would be truly out of this world.
If it’s just a facelift you need – for your tired furniture only – Olga Mackenzie can breathe new life into any sad old ottoman or sagging sofa. In her studio Forest Gate, Altyn, Olga uses her extensive knowledge of 20th century furniture and upholstery to transform even the most intricate work from lumpy to beautiful. All you have to do is choose the fabric.
Armed with the secrets of all my Rolodex, I beg you to remember one last thing: commissioning household items is as much about the process as it is about the finished item.
In a world where you can have any ready-to-use tattoo delivered in less than 24 hours, this is your opportunity to work with the best in the business, masters of their craft. Personally, I couldn’t think of anything better.
Where to find the best manufacturers in London
Barnaby Lewis Workshop Unit 6 Orion Business Centre, Surrey Canal Road, SE14 5RT, ([email protected])
Charlie Froud WorkshopUnit 10-11, Excelsior Works, Rollins Street, SE15 1EP ([email protected] for info)
Miranda Keyes The Studios 330 St James’s Road, SE1 5JX ([email protected]; studiokeyes.co.uk)
Altyn ([email protected]; altynhome.com)