At their north London workshop, designer-maker couple Nicola and Christopher Cox forge iron, cast bronze, blow glass and shape stone. “We love the hands-on aspect of working with these materials, and the alchemic nature of the process – turning elemental materials into something tactile and sculptural,” says Christopher. “We are meticulous about every detail.”
Following a decade training as sculptors and metalwork restorers, the duo recently opened a Pimlico Road showroom to display their unique furniture and lighting. All of their pieces are one-offs, taking between eight and 12 weeks to complete, and are often inspired by the natural world. The Oak Leaf console (£11,820), for example, has as its base a bronzed iron trunk with branches bearing leaves that are hand-patinated in spring green, holding up a top of the smoothest onyx. Another table (£10,800) takes a more abstract, stylised approach to its design starting point, with hand-forged iron trestles echoing reeds and supporting a top of wild pippy oak.
Some of the designs reveal references to art history, such as the modernist-inspired Thibier lounge chair (£6,600), with its temptingly curvaceous gilded steel frame, and the Ferro Vitro light (£28,800), whose cage-like, forged-metal structure contains cube-shaped pockets of glass wired with dimmable LED lights. Others seem simply to celebrate the art of handcrafting objects. Take the monumental Strata cabinet (£51,000), which revels in its raw materiality of forged and polished bronze, with an interior of English ash and steel-bound shelves.
These pieces provide a jumping-off point for a variety of bespoke commissions. “We have made some pretty extraordinary versions of the Oak Leaf range, including a pair of bespoke chandeliers that together were nearly 6m wide and 3m high, with over 9,000 hand-forged leaves,” says Christopher. “The venue was a large classical orangery in an English country house, and the dark bronze, completely organic forms twisted down to ‘kiss’ in the middle of the room. Part of the brief was to recreate the atmosphere of the surrounding wilderness.” The duo were also involved in the refurbishment of a house in Ireland this year, making everything from the lighting to the furniture.
Commissions usually start with an initial meeting at their Pimlico boutique. “Sometimes the conversation will take place over several months, even years; other commissions are agreed in a day,” adds Christopher. “Recently I arrived on site half an hour before our clients and sketched three designs to scale. On arrival they approved the sketches immediately. Whichever way it happens, slow or fast, the most important thing is that the client is delighted with the results.”