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Functional furniture with a quirky twist

Furniture that marries aesthetics and practicality is just a click away

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Functional furniture with a quirky twist

January 05 2012
Nicole Swengley

Anyone searching for contemporary furniture and lighting that’s as pleasing to use as it is to live with should check out British designer Steuart Padwick’s click-to-buy site where he offers his own range of understated, yet highly practical pieces alongside designs for companies such as Heal’s and The Conran Shop.

What’s great about Padwick’s work is the way he adds an attractive quirkiness to very functional pieces. The Pig bench (£914) and Piglet bench (£358) take inspiration from a gymnasium vaulting horse – even down to the coarse suede leather upholstery – but in Padwick’s hands the designs turn into durable footstools, benches or coffee tables. Or take the steel Science light (£165), inspired by laboratory test-tube stands, the solid maple Walk Desk (first picture, £1,995), whose central lift-up flap is reminiscent of old school desks, or the solid oak Penguin Wine Hod (£195; with four-bottle holder, £225), which carries four wine glasses in its cutout surface edges. Each piece perfectly fulfils its practical aims but does so in a very charming way.

Most designs can be customised with dimensions, materials and colours altered to suit, and Padwick also undertakes totally bespoke commissions. Everything is very well made. The Beast sofa (third picture, from £2,295) has a sprung base and back and is traditionally constructed with a hardwood frame. The Buttons chair (from £995) also has a sprung seat, while its leather cushion and back-buttons and oak arm-caps/feet add a quiet charm. The Sticks light (second picture; desk, £265; floor, £315) with its counterweighted arm and the elegant, oval Darcey table (six- to eight-seater £3,549; eight-10-seater £4,070) in solid American black walnut or oak are further examples of a successful marriage between aesthetics and craftsmanship. These are pieces to live with and love.