Max Rollitt is a man of many parts. A trained furniture designer and maker, he works as an antiques dealer with his own showroom and is also a highly respected interior designer. Now all these elements are colliding harmoniously in Beneath the Canopy, a selling show paying homage to the four-poster bed at his Hampshire antiques showroom (May 2-31), which also serves as a teaser for Rollitt’s bespoke service (from £13,250 for a bespoke bed, with a four-month lead time, depending on a client’s requests).
These are not museum pieces but a collection of new designs inspired by beds Rollitt has encountered personally and professionally. “A bed was once the most important piece of furniture in a household,” he says. He proves this can still be so by giving his designs contemporary proportions and upping the comfort quotient, dressing the beds in glamorous upholstery and drapery from his favourite fabric houses (Claremont, de Le Cuona, Bennison Fabrics and George Spencer Designs). Each bed is handcrafted in Britain using fine black walnut and custom made for width, length and height. Upholstery is made to order to a client’s requirements.
“The four poster has invariably been decadent but not always beautiful and I hope my designs will bring elegance, joy and comfort to the bedroom,” says Rollitt. The Chamberlayne bed (from £16,800, excluding mattress and fabrics) is the reincarnation of a four poster dating from 1765, found in a Warwickshire mansion. It has been lovingly reproduced with turned and fluted foot posts, while its cornice can be left unadorned in polished walnut, painted or – like the original – tightly upholstered. For the Campaign bed (from £12,000) Rollitt took inspiration from a military bed made by Thomas Butler in the late 18th century. Handcrafted from solid walnut, it has a brass canopy that can be left exposed or fully upholstered for total privacy. New Gloucester (from £10,850) is inspired by the sleek lines of 19th-century Shaker furniture, with tapering, octagonal posts capped by a simple cornice and turned finials. And Bala (from £12,500) is a copy of an elegant, mid-19th-century Indian bed. It features turned balustrading to the head and foot boards, while its handcrafted walnut frame can be left bare or covered with a canopy.