Portrait - Lakshmi & Jonathan, Bark FurnitureHomegirl London pays homage to Bark Furniture.  Beautiful British hand-made, bespoke furniture.  Bark is a venture between husband and wife – Jonathan Walter and Lakshmi Bhaskaran.  Both are trained bespoke cabinet makers with a passion for modern design.  After making original pieces for clients, they decided to join forces and establish Bark Furniture, that was in 2010 and they haven’t looked back since.  I caught up with the duo to ask a few questions …

Q: What’s your mission?

A: We offer a fresh take on bespoke, British-made furniture.   Our mission is to create stunning, original designs, made by hand using traditional cabinet-making skills.  All furniture is made to the highest standard and we use wood from sustainable sources.  Above all we expect our furniture to last for generations.

Q: What’s your USP?

A: It’s recognising the need to offer bespoke furniture at prices that are competitive with the high end retailers. This allows us to tailor the product to each client’s individual needs without charging the earth!  Our clients look beyond the retailers; they treat furniture like art, for collecting not consuming.  They buy direct to ensure their money is going to the designer and maker rather than the administrative overheads of a large retail store.

Q: Tell me more about what influences your work.

A: Our work harks back to a bold period in furniture design and is inspired mainly by the mid-century modern era.  This was a time when the defining characteristics of furniture were confidence in proportion, modesty in detail and simplicity of construction.  Also the architecture of the time, automotive design, American car culture, it was a positive period in the 20th century when natural, renewable materials were still the primary resource for furniture making.

Q: Tell me more about what inspires your work.

A: We’re lucky enough to be based in Bude, North Cornwall and the Bark workshop is just 5 minutes from the sea.  North Cornwall is the perfect backdrop for creativity. It is calm and open, with empty roads and rolling hills, fields and valleys.  At the same time it’s vibrant and exciting, with dramatic cliffs and the Atlantic surf.  It allows and encourages freedom of expression; it’s almost entirely devoid of cynicism and revels in humour and fun.

Q: Which furniture designers / makers do you admire and why?

A: Achille Castiglioni – he was prolific, imaginative, loved and admired by his contemporaries.  There is a tremendous sense of fun about his work (telephone stool and Mezzadro seat), and he had no problem with people copying him, “the sincerest form of flattery.”  Charles Eames – charismatic, self-promoter, deal-maker and survivor.  Luigi Colani – way, way, way ahead of his time.

Q: Describe your current collections.

A: Bark’s furniture ranges are a continually evolving collection of designs that reflect our love of natural materials – woods, cotton and leather – in furniture making.  The passion we have for good design and craftsmanship is distilled into our two core styles.  The first style can be seen in the Acorn and Beacon ranges.  They are clean, simple and confident, have clear Scandinavian influences, with lightness in construction and lovely detailing.  The second style is the Kustom range.  Here our inspiration came from 50’s Americana, though a revamp of Art Deco styling is also a good description and possibly not coincidental.  In a world where so much is paired back, lean and minimal we have pushed the other way, creating drama by being generous with the materials and bold in the styling.

Q: How can customers buy your furniture?

A: Once we have established exactly what the client wants, defining wood, fabrics, confirming dimensions, we then start the project.  As we make everything to order, our lead times are typically 6-8 weeks.  Customers can either buy directly from us or via our agents in the UK or USA.

Q: What exciting ventures do you have planned for 2013?

A: We have several new designs and a new product range that we’ll be developing through the winter and spring to be exhibited during Clerkenwell Design Week in May.  Also hopefully we’ll find time to finish Bark’s first surfboard!

See below for a selection of furniture and seating pieces.  You can buy from www.barkfurniture.com or from an agent in the UK and USA, visit the ‘how to buy’ section on their website.  Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Bark, special thanks to Jonathan Walter and Lakshmi Bhaskaran.

 Acorn Sideboard, Bark Furniture

Acorn Sideboard, £2,995

Beacon Coffee Table, Bark Furniture

Beacon Coffee Table, £755

Beacon Lounge Chair, Bark Furniture

Beacon Lounge Chair, £725

Kustom Sofa, Bark Furniture

Kustom Sofa, £1,995

Acorn II Bench and Chair, Bark Furniture

Acorn II Bench, £ 745 and Acorn II Chair, £455