Creating and restoring furniture that is not only practical, comfortable and luxurious but also beautiful and contemporary, I like to think that my bespoke furniture is made with an artist’s eye for shape and colour, while created to traditional craftsman’s standards to withstand the rigors of time and regular use.
Graduating from a Higher National Diploma in fashion and printed textiles at Berkshire College of Art & Design, I came to London, initially working in fashion retail. My interests in fashion design and my fascination with urban tribes and the ideas around the concept of nomad’s while completing my graduate fashion collection, inspired my move from retail to become a cycle courier delivering mail and packages around central london streets. Inspired by that experience My first attempt at starting a business was a urban cycle wear company making and selling fashionable urban cycle wear. With limiting resources and no clear marketing strategy (This happened in the late nighties/early noughts, “pre-internet”, failed so badly it left me in serious debts, homeless and broke.
At my lowest point, what kicked off my journey from fashion design to furniture was when I was asked by a friend to restore a pair of chairs for her home. Although I didn’t at that time have any experience in upholstery, my friend knew she could rely on my former design experience and technical ability. I realized while working on the chairs how much I enjoyed “ripping down” and discovering how they were made, learning which materials could and should be used.
Realising I could take my existing skills into a different industry sector, in September 2003, I made a decision to re-train from fashion and textile design to upholstery and soft furnishings, studying at London Metropolitan University. I found housing through a best mate who introduced me to a housing Co-operative aptly named Phoenix. That foundation gave me some confidence, however, each step of the way I find my experience in Upholstery constantly challenging and engaging
Since graduating from being one of the last cohorts of students studying through the City & Guilds Qualifiaction, I’ve completed a wide range of commissions for commercial and domestic clients, often working alongside interior designers and architects, though to begin with, like many artists and designers, I had to take on part-time work to support my fledgling business while re-training.
During one period working as a bartender, I was asked by the bar owner to collaborate with an architect on a large project to install bespoke seating in a new bar being opened in Shoreditch. After the success of completing my first commercial project, I went on to produce “contract” upholstery for a growing number of bars, restaurants, clubs, and galleries in my local area of east London,
In creating “contract” seating, I loved the feeling of being able to transform a space completely. The challenge is to create something distinctive that can stand up to the wear and tear of London’s late-night crowd and I have access to some great modern fabrics and designs. I love going out and socializing when I can, so it’s simple: I design and make the kind of seating I want to feel comfortable on when I’m out and about!
My studies in art & design, fashion & textiles and now upholstery have informed me greatly to every piece of furniture I (re)create. Beauty and functionality are always paramount. For me, design, production, and creative flair are bound to a commitment to durability, quality and high standards of workmanship.
As well as slowly building my own collection of bespoke pieces , I love the creative challenge of restoring a beautiful piece of traditional furniture. Whether it’s recapturing its original feel or transforming it into something fresh and new. There’s nothing like the feeling that you’ve brought something beautiful from the past back to life.
I continue to develop a small but slowly expanding business. In November 2009 I was very fortunate to be offered a studio space within Container Futures in Bromley-By-Bow through Bow Arts Trust.
My work has been featured on Television shows like BBC1’s “Money For Nothing” and Channel 4 shows “George Clarkes Old House New Home” and “Kevin Mcclouds Supersized Challenge”, as well as featured in National Newspapers The Sunday Times Supplement. It is my hope to become a full member of the AMUSF within the next few years.
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@Rayclarke72 Producing bespoke #Texile #prints #upholstery, #reupholstery & #soft #furnishings using traditional or modern techniques & materials for the great & the good.