By Diana Kiernander
Home envy is the grown-up way of admitting you wasted your 20’s drinking wine and buying too many ‘wear once, then throwaway’ dresses for all the parties you never really needed to go to anyway.
What you should have been doing, in hindsight, during those heady, halcyon style-obsessed days was saving for a piece of furniture.
Stay with me on this and you’ll see how an interior addition to your home was probably always going to be more important than a quick-fix fashion piece you already forgot you wore.
In the name of research, I’ve spent the past week immersed in looking at the kind of interior design pieces I thought only existed in other-worldy period dramas, Hollywood film sets or episodes of Grand Designs.
First up, I visited Chris Turner, bespoke luxury furniture and cabinet maker at his studio in Anniesland. There I saw how the worlds of high art and furniture design collide. Chris created the Cubist Credenza sideboard, which is sat beautifully at the top of the studio stairs, a work that painstakingly blends over 600 hand-cut marquetry veneers with pentagonal wood tiles. And above it hangs a painting by the hyper-realist renowned Scottish artist, Iain Faulkner. The sideboard features in the painting, setting an air of melancholy, stillness and strength that perfectly echoes the essence of Chris’ sideboard design.
But I’m excited too by the collection of tables and chairs that sit to the right of the sideboard and painting. There’s the Berkeley round coffee table, built in classic walnut and rosewood finish, and imbued with the kaleidoscopic colour and verve of the Busby Berkeley musical era.
Nestled amongst contemporary classics is the fascinating whisky chair. With soft, sapwood highlights and angled bridle joints, it is the quintessence of elegance.
‘This piece was inspired by leading German designer Richard Riamerschmidt and his approach to modern interiors,’ says Chris, ‘I took inspiration from his “House of the Music Lover” collection created at the turn of the century and played around with ergonomics, function and comfort.’ The result is a chair that reimagines itself as not out of place in the corner of your kitchen, sipping a sneaky whisky nightcap. Riamerschmidt was a leading player in the German art nouveau movement and his great architectural influences pulse through Turner’s work today, Hints of early 20th century style are present in all of Turner’s work, there’s an heirloom quality to everything he does and he’s certain the furniture he creates are family treasures that can be passed down through generations.
‘Everything I make holds its value,’ he says, proudly. And this goes too, for the fly-fishing pieces that tap into his long-held love of exploring the lochs and rivers across Scotland with a fishing rod.
‘I was asked to make a fly box once for a guy retiring from flying aircraft in the RAF. His colleagues wanted to give him a present that reflected his love of fishing and his esteemed career. They got the names of all the jets he’d flown and his name engraved on the box. ‘It was really special,’ says Chris, ‘I like being able to create individual pieces that are meaningful to customers.’
Over at ThreeFourFive Furniture, design has never felt quite so imaginative. From the outside, their space looks just like any other building, set down a semi-industrial looking lane in Govan, near the banks of the River Clyde. A faded grey-stone warehouse, it could be a disused dance studio or a garage. But once inside, prepare to be dazzled by the scale of creative workmanship taking place in this furniture design haven. Witness the clamour and calm of wood-cutting, painting, restoring and building pieces. This is where classic crafting co-exists with modern technology to help you create a dreamy design space in your home.
Arne, Steven and Chevy are the original self-starters who met at Glasgow School of Art and opened the doors of this workshop in 2014. Sharing a love of furniture making and bringing a diverse set of skills to the forefront of the art, they have carved out an enviable market in bespoke design.
Arne’s great love is creating kitchens for customers who come with an idea but need guidance in realising the dream.
‘You can come to us with a starting point – a colour or a shape, and we can discuss what’s possible and use digital technology to show you what we can achieve,’ he says.
The company also excel at working with IKEA’s modular cabinet units, to put an exciting colour or style spin on the Swedish originals.
The space houses an impressive array of design inspiration and storage solution ideas too. There’s retro vanity units in pop colours and adorable step features that can be incorporated into a family bathroom to cater for small children. But most innovative is some of the projects they have taken on to revolutionise the look of independent businesses opening up in Glasgow and far beyond.
Think cork pegboards, draped in hanging plants, and delicious gifts.
Amidst all of this, I’m most taken by Doris, the adorable family dog who belongs to the team in Govan and comes to work with office manager Claire most days. She’s a sweet reminder that pets, like comfy furniture, are often central to a happy, beautiful home.
Furnishing a home always throws up commitment issues that a new dress or a designer bag never would. You might have to live with this look at home for a long time! But like properly falling in love, the fickle, undecided heart could just melt away the second you see an upholstered armchair or a reworked cocktail cabinet. Sometimes you just know! Suddenly I’m in. I can promise, that I’m going to love this look forever. And not a throwaway dress in sight!