Highly functional bespoke furniture with a playful side

Heal’s teams up with east London designer-maker Matthew Elton

Walnut Chantelle drinks cabinet with sugar-pink interior, £8,500
Walnut Chantelle drinks cabinet with sugar-pink interior, £8,500

The words “bespoke” and “high street” are seldom seen together. British furniture company Heal’s, however, has decided to combine the two with the launch of a new collaboration with Matthew Elton. Working from a studio in east London, Elton crafts clean-lined creations that chime well with the Heal’s ethos, and this new bespoke offering pairs classical, minimalist design with natural materials in a service called Tendeter (named after Elton’s mother, the late actress Stacey Tendeter). 

Walnut Beatrice dining chair, £1,200
Walnut Beatrice dining chair, £1,200

“Heal’s has a 200-year-old commitment to craftsmanship,” says chairman Will Hobhouse, “and with the Tendeter workshop we are re-establishing bespoke furniture-making within the business. We have always championed British design and manufacturing, so it is wonderful to be able to offer pieces that are designed and made in England.”

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Everything that comes out of the Heal’s Tendeter workshop is the result of close collaboration between Elton and his client. The process begins with a design meeting at the store’s Westbourne Grove branch and then moves on to the workshop, where all the pieces are made by hand. Yet while Elton, who established his studio back in 2002, tailors everything to the customer’s needs, he also has his own signature style, as demonstrated in his four Tendeter portfolio pieces. The Bronja credenza (£6,800), Chantelle drinks cabinet (£8,500), Beatrice dining chair (£1,200) and Clue table (£5,500) are all beautifully crafted in walnut and infused with a distinctly functionalist spirit. This doesn’t rule out playful flourishes, though; the drinks cabinet, for example, opens to reveal a sugar-pink interior. 

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Only officially launched last month, Heal’s Tendeter is already doing brisk business. Current commissions range from an American black walnut cabinet with custom-designed brass handles – for a private client who walked into the Tottenham Court Road store and couldn’t find what they were looking for – to a complete house renovation. “We are making a lot of beautiful fitted furniture in walnut for this one,” says Elton. “I love the diversity of what we offer, it keeps on creating exciting new challenges.”

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