Homegirl London pays homage to CoucouManou. Experienced cabinet and bespoke furniture maker Nell Beale is the woman behind this venture. She combines her twenty years in the business with her love of colours to bring you handcrafted contemporary storage furniture and unique home accessories. She designs everything herself combining timber with colour to produce functional furniture. All her paint finishes are safe and eco-friendly, which is important because CoucouManou pieces appeal to both children and adults. I caught up with Nell to find out more.
Boulder Display Unit
Meet the CoucouManou Designer
Nell Beale confesses that she was a bit of a late starter – “After numerous short courses including stone masonry, stained glass, photography, working on an archaeological dig in Bath and frankly bumming around, I was pushed to take a City & Guilds Joinery skills course and discovered I was quite good at it.”
Nell gained a place on an HND Design course in Furniture at Shrewsbury. She tells me – “It was the best thing I could have done. I left with a Merit and went on to work at a woodturning company in Somerset. Here I learnt to turn and also organised the production of lamps and candlesticks supplied to Mulberry at Home.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with woodturning, it’s a form of woodworking used to create wooden objects on a moving lathe.
The Chubby Guys Candle Holders
With this experience under her belt, Nell moved to Brighton where she rented bench space in 1998 for her own venture called ‘Nell Beale Furniture & Design.’ This was mainly commissioned work for private clients and architects, from 1998 – 2011. In 2011 she established CoucouManou to concentrate on her own collections. For Nell, this was her opportunity to design and make products she really wanted to rather than following a client’s brief.
I asked Nell about the company name – “Coucou means “Hi” in French and Manou is what we call our daughter Manon.” Now based near Bath, Nell works pretty much alone. She outsources the cutting work and the turnings to local companies which she then finishes off herself.
View the CoucouManou Collection
The design style is simple and bold with considered colour schemes. Nell tells me – “I suppose one of the obvious things about my designs is the colours. I’m very particular about how they work together.” In terms of the furniture, Nell makes display units, storage units and side tables plus a selection of unique home accessories. Let’s take a look at some of her pieces.
Boulder Display Units: These display cabinets can be used to display your decorative objects or function as a bookcase. You get a glimpse of the cool colours at the back of the units. Nell has created four colour combinations to choose from. The outside comes in an option of black or oak. There are three sizes – short, long and tall.
Boulder Display Units
Boulder Storage Units: These are deceptively substantial units. Designed to be modular and look fantastic stacked up or in a row. The brightly coloured handles and retro shapes are reminiscent of the fifties. Nell tells me – “I gave the Boulder range its name due to the form of the feet, the rounded frames and doors and the shapes of the handles.” There are three different styles to choose from – two doors, two doors with one drawer and four doors. You have a choice of five handle colour combinations.
Boulder Storage Units
GG Shelves: This is a design Nell actually came up with ten years ago. She’s tweaked the dimensions and materials to produce handy, space-saving side tables which can also be used as a small bedside table. You have a choice of five colours to choose from.
Accessories: Nell also makes a number of accessories – mirrors, coat pegs, candle holders, bookends, serving boards, coasters, blackboards and magnets.
Buy CoucouManou Products
For more information and to buy the products go to CoucouManou. Price guide: Furniture ranges from £249-2495 and accessories from £6.50-59.
Nell offers a bespoke service based around the collection. She has made big Boulder display units for interior designers and different sized Boulder storage units in the past. If someone is looking for a particular colour scheme, she’s happy to work with them to achieve that.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: CoucouManou. Thanks: Nell Beale.