Interior Design | The Bespokesperson

Bespoke panels that turn over a new leaf

A Dorset craftsman uses rare skills to transform glass into gold

Bespoke panels that turn over a new leaf

Image: Tessa Kennedy

January 25 2012
Nicole Swengley

A resurgence of interest in luxurious, intricate craftwork means Dorset-based Peter Binnington rarely has a spare moment. As one of very few remaining British craftsmen skilled in verre églomisé, he is in constant demand from top interior designers and private clients to create decorative glass panels that add an evocative shimmer to any room.

Verre églomisé involves applying designs in colour and precious metal leaf to the reverse of glass panels. “I enjoy the whole process – drawing and decoration,” says Binnington. “It excites me because you never know how it will look until you turn the panel over and, when installed, it really comes alive with reflections in the glass.”

Recent commissions include a triptych of 3m-high panels for a London apartment featuring a landscape painted with white gold leaf (similar projects from £28,500). “Colours – yellows, golds, rust – were chosen to work with the interior, and it really opened the space up,” says Binnington.

Tall wall panels with gold-leaf borders and gold gryphons in their arched tops were created for a house in Sweden (from £5,750), while over-door panels depicting acanthus leaves in distressed white and yellow gold were made for a Liechtenstein property (from £7,200). And Binnington made framed mirrors for London’s Goring hotel using palladium leaf, which “has a greyer, deeper tone than silver-leaf mirror” (from £950 per sq m).

Meanwhile, private clients frequently commission rococo-style gold-bordered mirrors (from £5,500) for dressing rooms and cloakrooms. “People like bright colours – blues and golds – in these locations,” says the craftsman.

Jewel-like panels for table tops and cabinets (from £2,750) are also popular, including the deco-style, stained-ebony cocktail cabinet he recently fitted with silver-leaf door panels (panels from £2,950). They are the perfect finishing touch: “Verre églomisé adds a really luxurious feeling to a room.”