Galvin Brothers: traditional joinery with a disruptive streak

This airy shop in the Yorkshire town of Beverley is lovingly (hand-)turning out perfectly imperfect contemporary wooden furniture

Matthew Galvin, who co-founded the Yorkshire shop with his brother Andrew
Matthew Galvin, who co-founded the Yorkshire shop with his brother Andrew | Image: India Hobson

Designer, manufacturer, shopkeeper…” considers Matthew Galvin, cradling a claw hammer amid the furniture that fills his Beverley shop, found in the shadow of the Yorkshire market town’s imposing gothic minster. “I think there’s a certain honesty to that ambition.” The Royal College of Art graduate’s background in graphic design is allied to a deep-rooted understanding of the proportion and physicality of timber – his late father was a joiner. A respect for the craft is at the core of his rapidly expanding business, founded in 2012 by Galvin and his brother Andrew. The firm outgrew its workshop within three years, and today, its contemporary wooden wares can be found in hotels, including London’s Bankside on the South Bank, as well as in the homes of clients like Claudia Schiffer.

Ash, leather and upholstery Peninsula chair, £780
Ash, leather and upholstery Peninsula chair, £780 | Image: India Hobson

One of Galvin’s standout designs is the (Perfectly) Imperfect stool (from £190), fashioned from European oak, ash or walnut, one of its three legs misshapen. “The ‘wobbly’ leg is a deliberately disruptive interpretation of traditional wood-turning,” says Galvin, whose aesthetic embraces irregularities – they are intrinsic to the furniture’s sincerity, he feels – and includes the (Completely) Imperfect side table (£285) and oak daybed (£1,985), with upholstery in locally sourced fabric from Guiseley’s Abraham Moon. “The imperfection is also a nod to the materials being used,” says Galvin, upending a limited edition Pitch Pine version of the stool (£280, pictured above) to reveal a carved quatrefoil, a reminder of the timber’s earlier application in church pews. The production of this piece was prompted by an invitation to exhibit at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show; returning this year, Galvin unveiled a collaboration with Wakefield textile designer Laura Slater – a bench and stool set (from £390) in ebonised oak, inset with slender monochrome cushioning in Slater’s signature painterly style. Most recently, Galvin has worked with David Mellor to create the Cutler’s stool (£165). Made from workshop offcuts of mainly English oak with a knotty, “heavy character”, it is a modern take on a 19th-century silversmith’s perch. Another collaboration, with Sophie Ashby’s interior design studio, is the Peninsula chair (£780) whose square-edge, spindled ash form is combined with a leather bolster and upholstery, and can be used to create a modular bench.

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These lovingly produced pieces are showcased in the shop’s uncluttered interior alongside homewares and objects “that share properties with our furniture”. Embroidered velvet cushions (£160) from Brighton-based Emily Rose Potter decorate bench seats, while hand-thrown ceramic mugs (£35) from Sheffield studio Pottery West sit atop the signature oak dining table (from £1,290), with its visible wedged tenon joints. There are smaller side tables, too, such as Alf and Bud (£395 each), whose natural oak tops contrast with scorched-oak pedestals – summing up succinctly Galvin’s emphasis on simplicity and earthiness.

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