Based on decades of practical experience and many hours of R&D, we're in our element providing guidance on the best options for any given project.
Over the years we've honed our knowledge through real-life experience and are trusted by clients to find alternative material solutions for very bespoke projects.
We have developed an excellent and trusted network of specialist suppliers around the country, and work with a wide range of finishers which allows us to offer almost any material option with confidence.
The benefits of hardwood don't come without a challenge, and it can be difficult to work with as a material. The benefits of hardwood can also be its downside - each board is unique, depending on how it’s grown or how each board is sawn, with different grain patterns and qualities. While this is very beautiful and rewarding to work with, the lack of consistency can be difficult to plan for, especially with the scales of projects we work on.
This is usually overcome by adding high waste factors; as a proportionally high amount of material needs to be discarded if it is not suitable due to sap content, warpage, cupping, splitting, shakes, etc. As we have become more ecologically conscious as a society we have also turned away from “exotic” timbers being something that we should actively promote - as we learned in our time in the trade; despite global chain of custody programs, felling and sourcing can be ethically problematic, not to mention the environmental cost of shipping a huge volume of material via sea freight.
We prefer to add a notion of value and provenance to our projects by using our skills and time in the details, which includes carefully sourced materials. If materials such as hardwood are employed as a feature detail or highlight, we can frame this wonderful natural material, while reducing resources and impact of using it as the main structural material of a piece.
Our study desk for a private client is an excellent example of using a small amount of american walnut, treated with an intricate routing detail, framed by Foresso top and aluminium framework.
Our work for Bodo Sperlein producing their Contour range showcases our mastery in hardwood engineering. These are unbelievably complex pieces to make and take into account every piece of technical knowledge and expertise we have gathered. From identifying suitably grown and sawn trees, correct kilning and drying, specialised atmospheric conditioning, expansion and contraction, grain orientation, colour matching, etc.
Patina in Edinburgh is one example where hardwood was used extensively; in the chevron detailing to the fitted pieces, as well as some specialised veneer work on the dining tables.
We have extensive experience working with laminated and sawn timber, most notably in the Colour Palace at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
This included over 4,500m of structurally graded timber, in a size not usually available.
We commissioned the production of a special size, using Douglas fir for its consistency, with each length being manually graded to meet structural standards. In addition to the structural timber we also processed a further 6,300m of redwood which was used for the cladding panels. Although this was not structural, it was still required to be clear of defects to provide a suitable painted surface.
We also have a wealth of experience with sheet materials and can recommend a variety of products to suit the project, whether bonded with specialist glues, various classes of fire retardancy, unusual formats, etc., or using specific core materials for a particular purpose, such as eucalyptus for rot resistance or poplar for its high strength to weight ratio (although technically poplar is a hardwood, despite its properties).
The Haylofts project with xSite was based on our bespoke modular building system, using timber cassettes faced with plywood and cement board.
The Lacuna Bench with Nick Tyrer for London Design Festival is an interesting piece made up entirely of stacked layers of CNC cut birch ply.
The pink perimeter walkway and preformed concrete legs of the Colour Palace actually conceal 10 tonnes of gantry structure which acts as a support for the upper timber structure.
Polly was originally envisaged as an internal timber structure. However, due to the complexity of the form we redesigned the core structure in steel for simpler fabrication.
We are also set up for stainless fabrication which is mostly used for catering items such as the smoker we built for our friends at Cookhouse, or decorative elements such as handles or hardware.
Each project is different and we can offer quick feasibility studies and cost analyses to help decide on the most appropriate material. The fact that aluminium is a truly circular material is excellent with regard to sustainability, however, this is negated by the fact that it is very harmful to extract and process.
We can also assist with aluminium casting. We have experience with mould production using 3D printing or CNC milling and have formed relationships with various foundries around the country.
For our commission with Newcastle Cathedral, we produced massive sculptural furniture pieces in cast aluminium, starting with 1/10 scale casts from 3D-printed moulds to test shrinkage, working up to full-scale CNC carved foam patterns.
For our project Voyager at Riga, Gateshead, we used standard aluminium profiles to create the housing of the electronics and displays, and fabricated a large welded raft connected to the ceiling to transfer to rise and fall mechanisms.
Our projects EVERY THING EVERY TIME, and EVERY THING EVERY TIME v2.0 for Naho Matsuda and Future Everything comprised an aluminium casing which encloses a highly complex set of modules built up of laser-cut and mandrel bent components.
Our creation for the reception at Hoults Yard features a copper box concealing the computers, and is topped with custom chemical-engraved copper tiles, in the artwork developed by Electrik Sheep.
Following the trend for material honesty it is frequently seen in its raw, unpainted form, and, when pulltruded, it can even be used as an alternative to steel column and beam to create lightweight structures, like our Play Pavilion for NE1.
It is also the perfect material for forming waterproof liners for planters, as seen in our street furniture with LDA for Newcastle Council.
We created a series of upright dividers in Hexpanel, which is made up of 2 layers of premium facing cardboard, with a sheet of honeycomb card in the middle to add stiffness. We used Ecoboard for plinths and tabletops which is a rigid panel made from agricultural waste.
The denser sheet makes it better for machining and routing decorative details, and the through-colour means that the only finishing required is a clearcoat varnish.
We have been through a huge amount of this stuff for projects such as the Boiler Shop both in the bar and wall cladding, as well as the sophisticated furniture in the green room.
Much of our work has been intricately CNC cut components, in toughened, laminated, mirrored, antiqued, printed options, as well as architectural pieces such as glazing and balustrades.
Our back bar at Patina is an obvious showcase of custom mirror design, and our antiqued mirror detail for this private client was also very special, with each shape being an individual component.
We have also created Infinity Mirrors and a number if high-spec vitrines for artists such as Claire Morgan Studio.
Not only that but the angle of refraction/reflection also affects the colours so it can be used very playfully.
The effect is displayed perfectly in our Dichroic Maze benches for NE1 which act both as an interactive placemaking intervention, as well as a seating solution for the Circle of Light for Toby Plunkitt we made similar use of standard colour tints to create a playful touring artwork.
Its machinability, thermal insulation, and acoustic properties perfectly complement our manufacturing pursuits.
In projects like The Human Burrow, cork's unique texture enhances the sensory experience of the piece, while its sustainable nature resonates with the design teams’ commitment to responsible practices. Integrating cork helps to align science, design and sustainability, allowing us to craft captivating spaces that engage both humans and the natural world.
Concrete's durability and potential as a sculptural medium are clear in these designs. With our expertise in providing bespoke mouldings and concrete castings in-house, we can deliver enduring, functional, and striking designs.
Cempanel's adaptability allows us to craft architectural structures that bridge innovation with the bold aesthetics synonymous with brutalism.
These materials allow us to create unique, lasting pieces that stand as a testament to our passion for innovative craftsmanship.
These applications highlight our use of materials like Acrylic, Polycarbonate, PETG, and recycled options like Ekoply.
Through in-house CNC machining and laser cutting, we can craft plastics into dynamic architectural elements. We also work with a trusted network of suppliers and subcontractors to deliver 3D prints, as well as roto-moulded and injection moulded forms.
Our commitment to innovation aligns with our pursuit of sustainability, striving to incorporate more recycled products for designs that unite aesthetics with environmental responsibility.
Most railway infrastructure signage and especially the signs throughout the London Underground are made by screenprinting a paint made with glass powder which is then fired.
Due to the fabrication methods and special substrates involved there are some design limitations but with some thought we can achieve almost any form that can be made with typical sheet metal process such as forming with a break press.
For smaller details such as the crosses in the Altar and Choir Stalls at Newcastle Cathedral we produced brass crosses and fired them ourselves in a small kiln, and on larger projects such as our Totems in Yeovil for You & Me, and the Tooley Street Triangle for Charles Holland Architects on which we acted as design consultants.
We also use pressed PET felt in various thicknesses and densities. It is unique in its rigidity for a “fabric” and can be a cost effective way to create panelling which is also performs excellently in sound absorption and attenuation. The Hush Chairs for Freyja Sewell feature a hood made entirely from PET felt (which is made from recycled drinks bottles).
We also have employed use of marble on small-scale products such as our awards for the 2017 Northern Design Festival.
The Liturgical Furniture for Newcastle Cathedral is a perfect example of this.