July 08 2011
Lucia van der Post
The problem with buying things such as sofas and beds is that it’s all too easy to buy with the eye instead of the head. Shape, colour and pattern tend to be the things that capture our attention, whereas in fact some of the really important elements, the ones that often account for the high price tags, are hidden away inside.
It was partly this sort of thinking that led Gytha Bouchon, an interior designer who had studied at the Inchbald School of Design and who had set up Gytha Nuttall Design in 2000, to set up a company with her sister, Amber Aikens, selling superior furniture, mostly of a rather classic kind. As an interior designer, doing up grand homes around the world, Bouchon was always looking for the standard pieces every home needs – sofas, chairs, footstools, day beds – but made to the highest standard, comfortable, hard-wearing and good-looking without being showy. They were also looking for a rather English aesthetic, something subtle, understated, classy in the best possible sense. They’ve turned to English manufacturers, all of the pieces are hand-made, and they use only the very finest fabrics.
So now there is a growing collection of furniture and fabrics from Nuttall designs that may solve many a house-furnishing problem. There are down-filled sofas (of which the Grant, £6,900, an unpretentious-looking, comfy number which would fit into almost any house, is far and away the most popular), day beds (check the Samantha, second picture, a simple classic at £2,850), chairs (the Georgia club chair, first picture, £3,300, which has some nice buttoning detail, is another of their customers’ favourites), stools (the Florence footstool, third picture, is £1,290), and a small but growing collection of accessories such as throws (£1,236) and cushions (from £225).
The aim is in time to make it a complete interiors lifestyle company to include paints and wallpapers, bed linens and tableware. For now it’s a newish enterprise; to get a notion of the real quality, you need to see and touch, which you can do at the showroom in west London.
Though the prices are high, the notion is that this furniture is built to last. “Apart from anything else,” says Amber Aikens, who is the marketing director, “the world is not full of resources and we don’t want to make things that people throw away.” Their hope is that if somebody goes to an auction in a hundred years’ time, they might come upon one of their pieces that still looks good and that they’d be really excited to see how beautifully it is made.
Nuttall is not the place to head for if you’re looking for the edgy, the avant-garde, the single stunning eye-catcher. It is, though, the place for the great classics of the house, made as beautifully as they can be made.