Despite the italophile name and the exotic, international looks of its collections, design company Porta Romana is a British success story. Launched from the kitchen table of Andrew and Sarah Hills in 1988, the furniture, accessories and lighting brand has always focused on individual-design pieces handmade by skilled British craftspeople, several of whom are still part of the original team 25 years on. Creations have featured in the interior schemes of Claridge’s and The Berkeley, as well as the Astoria St Petersberg and numerous stylish residences and yachts around the world.
To celebrate 25 years in production, the couple have commissioned sculptor, lighting and furniture designer Gareth Devonald Smith to create a special celebratory table lamp (pictured) – as a centrepiece to a new capsule lighting collection that launches at the London Design Festival this week.
Classic, organic, sculptural and yet suitably of the moment, with its highly patinated bronze and brass finish, Devonald Smith began his work on the XXV lamp by modelling shapes for the base decoration out of individual pieces of clay. The finished pieces were then sand-cast and attached to the rigid central stem, so that, says Devonald Smith, they almost appear to float. “The idea was to create a strong and very purposeful signature piece, which represented Andrew and Sarah’s commitment to artistry and their outstanding achievement over the past 25 years,” he says. “As such, XXV has a rather totemic, sentinel feel – a guard standing to attention saluting the next 25 years.”
“This very special piece embodies many of the virtues championed by Porta Romana: tremendous artistry in the design; the use of precious materials in the execution – in this case bronze and brass; and the incredible craftsmanship involved in sand-casting the sculptural elements,” says Andrew Hills of the limited edition that is being offered as 25 pairs (£14,400) and 15 single lamps (£8,400).
But don’t dismiss Devonald Smith’s other designs within the new collection, including the fabulous bronze-and-brass Sputnik chandelier (from £5,200), which is spiky, retro and based on one of the designer’s graphic doodles, and the gorgeous Cirque floor lamp (from £2,440), formed from geometric brass squares carefully put together by hand.