In a seemingly disposable world, there seems at last there is a sea change in the buying of furniture. Increasingly, many people are beginning to veer towards antiques fairs and for lasting solid wood pieces, away from the instant-gratification of new plywood sofas and chairs.
The average household, shockingly, replaces its furniture every 5 to 7 years, and those rejects will end their short lives the great sofa graveyard (also known as landfill). It’s a trend that may take time to change, but the tide is turning as people think more responsibly about waste and consumption, and appreciate the quality and charm of traditionally made possessions. There is a growing realisation that well-made antiques and classics never go out of style; if anything age merely enhances them.
As with the Pugin tables, the sofas and chairs made in the Augustus Brandt workshops are not just beautiful to the eye, but are built as heirlooms, to be loved and then passed on to the next generation: solidly-made but graceful, with attention given to small detail so that the end result speaks of harmonious durability.
The William and Mary style upholstered wing chair is almost throne-like: a commanding presence with a high back and comfortable flat-topped arms. It stands four-square on turned oak supports and Spanish style claw feet and can be made w in any fabric and wood finish – bleached, waxed, limed, varnished.
The 18th Century style sofa is strikingly graceful, with its sweeping camel back and carved oak legs. ‘Look at me!’ it says. ‘I am here to stay.’ This is a wide, generous sofa that deserves a good sized room and space around it, the better to display the opulent curve of the back and the extravagant arch of its arms. It’s not only a joy to look at, but also to sit on: it comes in a variety of fabrics and wood finishes and with either one long seat cushion or two, filled with a choice of feather or feather-wrapped fibre. It’s a proper heirloom piece: whoever inherits this many years down the line may choose to re-cover it but the design and the frame will endure.
The clean lines of the two-tone armchairs take you into another century entirely: with the bold contrasting colours and rounded arms they have a luxurious Art Deco feel, with all the features of individuality, high quality materials and attention to detail of the Thirties.
All these pieces can be made to your own specifications and taste in six to eight weeks – not long when you consider that they will still be around in a century’s time, probably with a few honourable scars and stories to tell.