The Resident takes a peek at the home of renowned furniture designer Tim Gosling’s Clapham home while he tells us of his grand plans for Decorex International 2016…
Words: Rachel Mantock
This year’s Decorex International will offer visitors something completely different. Curating the main entrance of the show, something that has been two years in the making, world renowned furniture designer Tim Gosling has created a grand exhibition, The Heritage of Chair Making, to link the history of architecture, heritage and British craftsmanship through the decades together.
Sourcing never-seen-before chairs from the storage collections of the V&A Museum and The Frederick Parker collection, Gosling will ask acclaimed visionaries – including Paul Smith, Jasper Conran and James Dyson – to choose their favourite pieces from each collection and to explain why they chose them.
These furniture makers were doing something revolutionary in their day
‘We are taking 12 chairs and showcasing them as if to say, “these are the greats”, like Mackintosh and Chippendale,’ Gosling explains. ‘We want viewers to go through the realisation that these furniture makers were doing something revolutionary in their day. It will allow people to look at modern furniture and think, actually, these are the masterpieces of the future, people will marvel at this piece of furniture in a museum one day in many years to come and recognise it as legendary.’
Describing himself as a fusion between modernity and tradition, Gosling stresses that it is impossible to have one without the other, as you would just ‘end up with no electricity’, the two working in sync to create visual tension in a room. For the renowned designer, the chair is an object that exists as a compact version of colossal architecture and interiors.
He says: ‘I can look at a chair and I can absolutely understand what period it came from and its connection with the rest of the room. It is a lot like looking at a person. I know where a person fits into history just by looking at them. Everyone has so many things simply encoded into their appearance; it could be something as simple as what you are wearing. It’s the same with a chair; the DNA of a chair will tell me an enormous quantity of information about its origins.’
I can look at a chair and I can absolutely understand what period it came from and its connection with the rest of the room
Fascinated by period houses that still have furniture sat inside that was specifically made for it all those decades ago, Gosling feels that the architecture of buildings today has advanced to an almost celestial level, with beautiful, fluid, curved structures popping up everywhere – but believes that furniture has taken a step backwards.
‘There is almost nothing in terms of furniture that fits into these wonderful, circular buildings,’ he explains. ‘Let’s start designing furniture that commands these spaces superbly, just as historical furniture fitted into its surroundings perfectly.’
British furniture makers have such a solid legacy that any of the greats could be mentioned in any four corners of the world and people would recognise them, which is why Gosling feels we have always been and still are at the forefront of the design world, leading the way, especially when it comes to furniture making.
Considering Britain’s design history, he says: ‘London in particular is a remarkable melting pot of cultures. There is an incredible depth of museums with that slightly dustier, historic way about them. The artefacts that we hold in our museums are just staggering. We have so many we can’t even display them all, about 70% are still in storage. All the chairs at Decorex International are coming from storage rooms, from fabulous collections that have yet to see the light of modern day. It’s incredibly exciting.’
Up until recently, historical designs displayed in museums were treated as too precious to touch and too precious to travel. This is something that Gosling thinks prevents people from really connecting with the past, as he feels touching these great designs is essential to really understanding them.
‘The Elgin Marbles recently went to Russia, which was unprecedented before,’ he says. ‘The travelling of exhibitions allows us to start cross-pollinating with other cultures, amassing all theses new styles and techniques. Glass cases around objects in museums detach people from what they are looking at.’
The Elgin Marbles recently went to Russia, which was unprecedented before. The travelling of exhibitions allows us to start cross-pollinating with other cultures, amassing all theses new styles and techniques
Gosling collects John Nash letters for this very reason – touching them gives him a ‘sense of trace’ as if he has been handed a baton by someone who touched it decades ago. ‘To hold those in your hands is remarkable,’ he states, ‘it’s like Nash is handing them to me and saying “these are my thoughts”.’
Everything is about storytelling, even furniture design, with most of what Gosling creates having an element of theatre to it. With a rug collection and a grand fireplace collection in the works, featuring carved marble lions inspired by Rome and Pompeii, Gosling is forever outdoing himself, constantly evolving the way he works to give those who buy and view his work a complete sensory experience where they connect with each piece through all five of their senses.
Sit down and think about it.