Furniture | The Bespokesperson

The furniture designer other designers seek out

A Parisian purveyor of custom bars, cabinets, jewellery boxes and more

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The furniture designer other designers seek out

February 15 2012
Nicole Swengley

For a fourth-generation family firm that originally specialised in 18th-century-style furniture, the bespoke designs handcrafted by Philippe Hurel look remarkably contemporary. And that’s exactly why private clients, as well as top interior designers (including David Collins, Tara Bernerd, Kelly Hoppen and Candy & Candy), seek out this exemplary French cabinet-maker.

“People come to us because they want something contemporary made from luxurious materials with all the craftsmanship of a classical piece,” says Elisabeth Gil, who runs Philippe Hurel’s UK subsidiary. And while the company has recently been busy making furniture for London hotels such as the Connaught, Browns and the Mayfair, it has also created a bar cabinet for a private client’s apartment made from sycamore upholstered in parchment, containing an ice-maker, silver cups and space for 30 bottles (from £42,500), and a chic, contemporary secretaire made from high-gloss lacquered sycamore and full-grain leather with a flip-down laptop surface (£16,060).

The most popular requests for private homes are dining tables and chairs, desks, cabinets and armchairs. One couple living in south-west London wanted facing desks and chose identical designs in different leathers – green for him and burgundy for her (similar desks from £10,355; Ray writing desk in second picture). The owner of a Knightsbridge penthouse, meanwhile, ordered a complete fitted kitchen in oak (£60,000), leather-inset bedroom cabinets in ripple sycamore (£15,000; example of sycamore and ebony Otto cabinet in first picture), a sycamore bed-frame (from £4,000) and a very large, exclusive, bespoke macassar ebony and shagreen cabinet for the dining room (£60,000).

Innovative designs such as the cigar trunks custom-made for Louis Vuitton (price on request from Louis Vuitton), substantial, floor-standing cabinets for jewellery or watches in lacquered sycamore with suede-lined drawers and secret compartments (from £40,000), the silk-upholstered, pod-shaped Entre Deux loveseat (£5,325) and quirky stools resembling bottle-stoppers (the Tobias stool, third picture, £845 to £5,675 depending on materials) add a special je ne sais quoi to this company’s glamorous offerings.