It was about 35 years ago, whilst sitting in a chair at the local tailors that I asked my father the question – why should you wear a custom made suit Dad? The response was a long one, but the thing that stuck in my mind was that look of sheer pleasure on my Father’s face, this wasn’t when the tailor was taking his inside leg measurement by the way. Now you might be thinking “what’s all this got to do with cabinet making?” well rather a lot really as the process is not that dissimilar, bespoke tailoring is all about the process, quality of materials and attention-to-detail, the superiority of the fabric, the cut of the cloth and the craftsmanship required for the final stitched garment. If you had the option, why would settle for something off-the-rack when you can indulge in a spot of sartorial elegance.
The very same can be said of furniture making, it’s about the journey, the creation of a piece, hand-picked materials, and the choice of finishes, as is the case with bespoke tailoring it certainly isn’t ‘one size fits all’.
The starting point with bespoke furniture making is very much about the relationship between furniture designer and client, where focus is towards the end users preference over the materiality, the features and function, and the construction methods employed. More generally, bespoke cabinet making includes a high degree of customization and involvement of the end-user in the production process with their request and lifestyle in mind. Like all Groth & Sons projects, the consultative stage is essential, time and care is given long before production begins. This design process commences with the client brief, this determines the furniture requirements and from there the designer addresses the technical and aesthetic elements.
Above all else, a piece of furniture should perform the functions asked of it. It should be sufficiently strong, and sturdy enough for its requirements, and be designed to tolerate any movement in the materials which will inevitably occur due to changes in humidity, particularly with the Sydney climate in mind. The construction should be within the aptitude of the craftsman and it should be pleasing to the eye. Therefore, with these criteria in mind, there are two major considerations when crafting a piece of furniture; the one technical and the other aesthetic, the relative importance being dependant on the intended purpose.
Common sense prevailing, suitability of function should be a starting point in the design and construction phase of furniture making. For example, a library bookcase has to fit the intended space satisfactorily and be able to accommodate a series of books and objects, consequently, allowance must be made in terms of height and depth, but also, in terms of weight. Attention should be taken in the relationship between span and stiffness, so on the one hand, the prevention of sagging should be accommodated, but also, there should be sufficient tolerance allowed for the natural movement of the wood. Thought must also be given to the installation into is environment in respect to the modular aspect of the piece, it is most necessary for a larger furniture item to be dismountable for ease of transport and delivery.
With consideration to the elements and principles of design, direction can be taken in how the end result will look in terms of scale, balance, proportion, etc. Attention must also be given to its surroundings, is it a contemporary building or does it have a heritage listing, will the piece sit within the design aesthetic of the buildings fabric, or are you looking for a juxtaposition of detailing? The project may be concept driven and unexpected, whimsical or even treated as an art installation in its own right. Whatever the appearance, consideration must be taken in the marriage of visual appeal and that of functionality, high design must be wary of subverting the practicality of the piece.
Custom made furniture sets the tone of an interior and can accommodate your prerequisites. You may have to wait longer and the price tag may not resemble that of its foreign made-assembly-line-counterpart but with consideration to design development something beautiful will emerge. Groth & Sons specialize in the production of one-off pieces of furniture which incorporate the use of contemporary construction methods with a traditional aesthetic. From drawing board to delivery, crafting detailed hand finished projects exuding the passion and the expertise of the artisan. These hand crafted pieces of today are the heirlooms of tomorrow.