Luxury Furniture Maker
Tom Faulkner has been designing and making striking contemporary furniture, mirrors and lighting for over twenty years. His innovative designs predominantly incorporate metal, glass, wood and stone and are handcrafted in the company’s Wiltshire workshop.
Tom Faulker, Furniture Designer (UK)
1. As a self-taught designer, how did you initially get into furniture and product design, and what was the ‘aha’ moment in which you decided you could dedicate yourself to this full-time?
I have always been quite creative but I got into furniture design and generally ‘making things’ when I made a coffee table for my sister. I was working for a record company at the time, thinking I could have a career in the music business.
The table was very colourful and I made a big pattern for the top using stencils and spray paints It was more surface decoration than furniture design, but when friends saw the table they began to ask me if I could make one for them, or refurbish their old tables. So I started to make more - this was all from my kitchen.
I guess the “aha” moment was being made redundant from the record company. In itself, it wasn’t a nice experience but I remember the very next day thinking: “Right, I’m going to start a business making these painted tables” - and I did.
I had previously worked for a picture framer who had a small workshop and a shop open to the public. It was a great set up and I wanted to replicate something like that.
2. How would you summarise the Tom Faulkner design aesthetic in one sentence?
Simple, distinctive and elegant.
3. Aside from furniture and product design, when else do you feel most creative?
When I’m decorating, playing guitar or gardening.
4. What are your top tips for picking the perfect dining table? Is there anything people often don’t consider when furnishing their home which they should?
Think about the space and how you want to use it. If it’s for a family and for every day or whether it’s for special occasions. I love oval tables - I find they are very convivial and non- hierarchical.
5. What’s one of your favourite pieces you’ve designed to date?
Capricorn is one of the first pieces I ever designed, and it is kind of our signature piece, but I love AVA - just because it’s so striking, and there is a complexity in its geometry which is hidden by its simplicity. It makes it a very intriguing piece to look at. ‘Complexity in simplicity’ - I think the Japanese have a word for it (shibui).
6. You’ve had several successful collaborations, such as the ‘Faulkner Fireplace’ with Chesneys, the renowned fireplace designer and supplier. How does a design collaboration like this come about and what do you love most about working with other specialists?
Chesneys was a while ago, and they approached me - I was very flattered to be asked and it was really fun applying my own aesthetic to a completely different kind of object to what I was used to.
I have recently designed a bed for Savoir Beds which I also loved doing. I approached them (I was going to make a bed for myself, but thought why not go to someone who actually knows how to make one!) and I have known Alistair (Managing Director and owner) for a while, so go I got in touch with him.
The level of craftsmanship at Savoir is extraordinary, each bed is handmade - you can trace it back to the person who made it for you. Their factory is full of amazing and wonderful contraptions for unravelling horsehair and making springs. Again, it was great to work in another medium and another product, as well as fabric and colour which I love.
7. What advice would you give to someone who is embarking on a journey of commissioning a bespoke piece of furniture for their home?
We don’t do a massive amount of completely one-off commissions. We do some, but we are usually making our own products or customising them for clients.
My most important advice, which seems simple, is that if you are undecided on the size of table always make a template of the top and make sure you put it at the height off the ground that it is going to be. Putting shapes on the floor is quite misleading, and you can easily make a mistake.
8. Your designs celebrate natural materials - metals such as brass and steel in particular. What’s your process for selecting the perfect materials for a design?
We work mostly with steel, but I love to use bronze when I can - it is inherently valuable and lovely to work with, being quite soft. Finishing it is interesting - I love the natural colour, and it’s wonderful to polish or you can apply a patina, like verdigris, and completely change the look. It is an ancient and reassuring material.
9. You create bespoke pieces for individuals, architects, hotels, developers and so on...who or what would be your dream commission?
I’m keen to do more sculpture at the moment - my dream commission would be a public sculpture in Swindon - which is where my workshop is. It is a town in need of some love!
10. You’re hosting a dinner party. Who would your top 3 guests be?
Woody Allen, Patti Smith and Keith Richards.
11. Are there any talented young designers we should be looking out for?
Lucy Kurrein is great. We have been working with a couple of great blacksmiths called Jacob Edwards and Kitt Garnett and I admire Ollie Holman’s work too.
12. The ‘Lily Cocktail Table’ is one of my personal favourite designs of yours which I’ve previously incorporated into home interior design schemes. What’s your go-to cocktail order?
When I used to drink it would have definitely been martini - straight up, with an olive and a twist. Now it’s going to be a Margarita mocktail I’m afraid!
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