White Brogue Coffee Table G&T collection

Profiles: Bethan Gray Design

Bethan Gray portraitHomegirl London pays homage to Bethan Gray Design.  Bethan and her husband Massimo Gray set up their furniture business back in 2008.  Bethan is the founder and creative director and Massimo the CEO.  Bethan makes predominately furniture but is also developing lighting and home accessories, which she hopes to launch towards the end of the year.  Her super stylish designs are pared down with a strong focus on luxe natural materials; leather, marble and solid wood which are crafted using cutting edge manufacturing technologies.

Craftsmanship is in her blood; her great-great-grandmother was a cabinet maker while her grandfather worked as a forester and carved objects.  She’s collaborated with furniture developer Thomas Turner to create a cool collection of tables based on the classic Brogue shoe stitching.  Her pieces are easily accessible to consumers with collections for the Design Collective at John Lewis and Crate and Barrel.  I caught up with Bethan to find out more …

Q: Tell me about your design background

A: I studied at DeMontfort University, BA Hons in 3-dimensional design, specialising in Furniture.  I won a Habitat Innovation Award at New Designer Exhibition on graduation in 1998 which led to an internship at Habitat and ultimately a full time role for 10 years.

Q: Why set up your business?

A: Having spent 10 years working for Habitat, I wanted to explore working with some other materials, particularly high-quality natural materials that I hadn’t had much of an opportunity working with, such as marble, leather and solid wood.

Q: Where are you based and why?

A: We’re based in a creative studio space called Great Western Studios in west London.  It’s great to be surrounded by other creative people and businesses and it’s close to home, so no long commute.

Q: How many people work at your company?

A: Including Massimo and myself, there are 10 people in the team.

Q: Describe your design style.

A: Contemporary and warm, timeless and elegant.

Q: Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

A: Anything and everything.  I’m fascinated by detail.  Inspiration often comes from my travels, which I record and share via Instagram.

Q: Tell me about your collections.

A: Lapicida Carrara and Marquina Marble, 2013:  We collaborated with stone specialist, Lapicida, to launch their first product range, creating a new collection of stone and marble dining tables.  The collection currently includes 2 dining tables; Herringbone (black and white marble with brass) and a high-end marble interpretation of my trademark Brogue design.

Lapicida Brogue Dining Table

Lapicida Brogue Dining Table

Lapicida Herringbone Dining Table

Lapicida Herringbone Dining Table

Gray & Turner Brogue Side Table: An elegant leather-topped, solid wood table featuring intricate wax-thread stitched brogue detailing.  Traditionally used in shoe production, brogueing is an instantly recognisable detail that resonates with our passion for intricate craft-based techniques.  The tables are produced using high-quality top grain leather, which has been treated to give a durable finish.  As with the best upholstery, the table will age with use creating a piece of furniture that develops its own individual personality, thus becoming a future heirloom.  Brogue is available in a range of size and base options and can work as a side, coffee, bedside or lamp table.

 Carve Side Table G&T collection

Carve Side Table, G&T Collection

Bethan Gray

Coloured Brogue Side Tables, G&T Collection

White Brogue Coffee Table G&T collection

White Brogue Coffee Table, G&T Collection

White Brogue Side Table G&T collection

White Brogue Side Table, G&T Collection

John Lewis (Noah): A range of contemporary dining room furniture designed exclusively for John Lewis.  The pared back simplicity of Noah, using high quality materials and highlighting craftsmanship, resonate particularly with how I love to design.  The design is associated with longevity and understated luxury.  It is predominately made of either solid oak or walnut with simple, clean lines.

Bethan Gray Noah

Dining Room Furniture, John Lewis Noah Collection

Bethan Gray, Noah

Bedroom Furniture, John Lewis Noah Collection

Q: Tell me about your bespoke service.

A: We offer the G&T collection in bespoke sizes and finishes.  We’ve also just launched 2 table ranges with Lapicida which are made to order and we offer a variety of stone finishes and colours to suit a client’s particular needs.

Q: What’s your fascination with natural stone?

A: I’m currently fascinated by natural stones such as marble.  I’m lucky to regularly visit a beautiful town in Tuscany called Pietra Santa.  It’s close to the Carrara mountains where the marble comes from.  Over the years I’ve travelled extensively in Italy and I have seen and been inspired by many churches that are made with mixtures of black and white stone (such as Sienna and Amalfi Cathedrals).

Q: Which designer do you admire and why?

A: Charlotte Perriand.  She is now gaining recognition for the work she was producing in the first half of the 20th Century, alongside Le Corbusier, Fernand Leger and Jean Prouvé.  She is a design hero of mine because of her pioneering and pragmatic work in an era dominated by a masculine aesthetic and design rhetoric.  She was a trail blazer for confident female design.

Q: What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

A: I get to set my own creative direction and work with materials that would necessarily be possible in a more commercial environment.  Oh, and I get to take my dog to work.

Q: What one piece of advice would you pass on to someone wanting to set up their own business?

A: Always follow up; whether that is researching your ideas in detail, following up on a conversation with someone about a prospective opportunity or contacting a client for feedback on a project you have completed for them.  The process never stops and provides you with invaluable insight for the success of next opportunity and project.

Q: What’s coming up for the rest of 2013?

A: We’re launching a marble accessories range based on the Wallpaper* Handmade designs that we showed at Milan Furniture Fair.  We will also launch some leather accessories and a range of lighting.

To find out more about Bethan visit her website Bethan Gray.  You can buy her pieces from John Lewis (UK), Nest (UK), Liberty (London), Mint (London), Bensimon Home Autour De Mond (Paris), La Rinascente (Milan), Limited Stock (Zurich), Lane Crawford (Hong Kong / Beijing) and Pomelo (Singapore).  Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Bethan Gray Design and John Lewis.  Special thanks to Bethan and Daniel Nelson.