Where do those who wish to enliven a garden with decorative metal gates or create a focal point with an eye-catching fireplace, staircase or chandelier go to commission a bespoke design? The answer, as many top architects and interior designers have discovered, is Andrew Findlay.
Findlay works with a small team of skilled blacksmiths in an 18th-century forge on the Eastnor Castle estate in Herefordshire. He specialises in large-scale architectural pieces such as exterior gates (from £1,200), balconies (from £1,200 per metre) and staircase balustrades (from £850 per metre). He takes on smaller commissions, too, for fruit bowls (from £375), fire-screens (from £350), bookends (pair from £120), door furniture (cupboard handles from £35) and garden planters (from £390).
All the pieces are hand-forged using a traditional furnace – where white-hot metal rods are pounded into graceful, organic shapes, then hand-refined on an anvil. Each is uniquely designed and features Findlay’s signature style of intertwining leaves, vines, fruit and flowers, which gives the work a delicate, art-nouveau feel.
“I’m inspired by Antoni Gaudí, Gustav Klimt, Victor Horta and Edgar Brandt,” he says. Still, the lively, textural quality of his work has a signature style that owes much to the development of his own distinctive metalworking techniques. A variety of finishes are favoured over paint – such as acid-washed zinc, which retains the texture of the forged metal. His galvanised zinc planters, with removable inner containers (£450), have oxidised surfaces to create an antique appearance.
Commissions are often seasonal – garden furniture and outdoor sculptures in the summer and fire-baskets and chandeliers in winter. One client living in a Victorian farmhouse in Kent ordered a pair of 2m-tall garden gates whose design was embellished with 3D roses (similar commissions about £10,000). A London client requested staircase balustrades with a grapevine design that featured a bloom on the fruit, which was created using an etched zinc finish (first picture, from about £1,250 per metre).
Another recent commission was for a pair of magnificent 3m-high bronze doors with a climbing fig decoration (second picture, £40,000), while a project for a Dubai villa included exterior gates, window grilles, balconies, staircase balustrades, lighting and interior fittings.
Inspired by his concern for the environment, Findlay frequently uses discarded metal from steel-making companies and recycles redundant copper water cylinders into garden sculptures. The results are both emotive and eye-catching.