January 28 2013
Lucia van der Post
If you’re after a really glamorous, showstopping piece of furniture for any room in the house, then Harry Villiers could well be your man. With his two brothers, Hugo and Tim, he runs a design and manufacturing business near Saffron Walden in Essex, which specialises in the sort of voluptuous furniture that would make an eye-catching centrepiece in a big hall, an imposing dining room or a sitting room. Their creations are to be found in some of the world’s grandest hotels – the Four Seasons Park Lane, Sandy Lane, Hotel du Cap, the Savoy and the George V, to mention just a few – as well as in private apartments, such as those at London’s One Hyde Park. And it’s easy to see why, as they exude a grandeur in their bold proportions and the varying combinations of curving metal, granite, marble, glass, limestone, bronze and polished stainless steel. The most notable pieces are the console and dining tables, all of which have about them a swagger and an allure that make them very distinctive.
The Villiers have been making furniture since 1989, constantly adding new designs, most notably the Vertigo (£6,786), a fantastic console table made entirely of mild steel, with a pewter and silver-leaf finish. Then there is the Aegean console in solid bronze with a limestone top (£9,199), the Byron in steel with an antique-gold finish and a black granite top (third picture, £7,795), and the Mammoth in vintage-silver-effect steel with a lava or black granite top (£17,017) – but the brothers will adapt materials and measurements to suit different rooms or tastes. There’s also a small and varied selection of lamps, mirrors and other accessories. It’s worth checking the website to see the full range. Alternatively, would-be customers can visit the workshop or commission pieces online.
While Harry Villiers is the chief designer behind the Villiers Brothers brand, that’s not all he does. With another partner, David Riches, creative director of design consultancy Visual Edge, he has recently launched Vintage Archive, a collection of quirky pieces, toys, objets d’art, vintage posters and graphics sourced from all over the world. The pair also refashions second-hand pieces of furniture, such as the metal factory locker (second picture, £840) they have lacquered and fitted with castors. On top of that they make new creations from found objects. This is upcycling, the 21st-century way of giving new life to things that would otherwise be thrown away, at its best. It could be a leather-clad table made from an old working compass (£325) or a bench made from lifeboat oars (first picture, £360). Everything they make is, of course, a one-off. Items can be bought online or from the warehouse in Saffron Walden.