The Latest From Our Blog…

The Art of Collaboration
15th November 2019
A ‘Variation of a Kissing Bench’ Jane Bustin installation shot: 'Blindspot' exhibition. Photo courtesy Copperfield Gallery, London. Collaboration is often at the very heart of our business and is normally established between ourselves and our private clients as we work closely with them to create their dream furniture for their homes. On occasion we get to collaborate with other craftspeople and artists. For this project we were approached by artist Jane Bustin to jointly develop and make a Kissing Bench for her solo exhibition ‘Blindspot’ at Copperfield Gallery, London: An exhibition “combining paintings, textiles, ceramics and sculpture that questions the trust we place in our primary senses when attempting to perceive, in particular, what it is ‘to see’.” Variation of a Kissing Bench , Jane Bustin and Edward Johnson. Photo courtesy Copperfield Gallery, London. The design is similar to a traditional kissing bench but is designed to allow only a small overlap between the back of the chairs, limiting the viewpoint and connection of the sitters. However, with the turn of a cheek the opposing sitters would meet. The piece subtly skews the very function of the Kissing Bench concept, being an intimate and shared space, to that of a socially awkward space, perhaps a nod to a no man’s land! The underside of the seats and the inside edges are painted in Vermilion red that adds a reflective glow simultaneously warm and alarming. Unusually, for Edward, the piece doesn't contain any curves, however, from a technical point of view the rigidity and simplicity of the structure contrasts with the complex interlocking hand-cut dovetail joints. Hand-cutting dovetails joints and bench components laid out in the workshop. The bench offers a practical use and familiar position for viewing paintings, resting or listening to bird-song (an installation piece in the exhibition ‘Woodsong’ utilises a BBC sound recording of Nightingales from May 1942, where a few minutes in, the recording is disturbed by the unexpected drones of 197 British RAF bombers) whilst at the same time evoking uncomfortable truths between humanity, territory and the land. Detail of dovetail joints and kissing bench constructed in workshop prior to painting. The choice of wood was a very conscious decision. The bench is made from ash, a traditional natural wood of Europe and Great Britain which is now threatened with extinction due to ash dieback disease, caused by a fungal infestation. 'Blindspot' exhibition by Jane Busin. Photo courtesy Copperfield Gallery, London. It was a pleasure to work on this piece with Jane, who also collaborated with writers Tracy Chevalier and John Hull to produce this exhibition. Blindspot: Jane BustinCopperfield Gallery, 6 Copperfield Street, London SE1 0EP The exhibition runs from 13 November - 20 December 2019 | Weds - Sat 12 - 6pm | Free admission www.copperfieldgallery.com <back to blog
Upcoming Exhibitions
24th October 2019
We are very pleased to announce that we are participating in the following three exhibitions through November to December 2019. Blindspot by Jane Busin at Copperfield Gallery Edward has been working collaboratively with artist Jane Bustin to jointly produce a sculptural ‘Kissing Bench’ that will be on show as part of her solo exhibition ‘Blindspot’ at Copperfield Gallery, London: An exhibition combining paintings, textiles, ceramics and sculpture that questions the trust we place in our primary senses when attempting to perceive, in particular, what it is ‘to see’. Private view: Tuesday 12th November, 6pm – 9pmExhibition dates: 13th November – 20th December 2019Opening times: Wednesday – Saturday 12 - 6pm or by appointment.Admission free. Copperfield Gallery, 6 Copperfield Road, London SE1 0EP www.copperfieldgallery.com Dovetail joints on the 'Kissing Bench' The House at Hill Lane: Annual Winter Pop-up Exhibition Edward has also been invited to exhibit his work in this group show at The House at Hill Lane. The exhibition includes work by Fanny Peppercorn, Ann Gardner, Polly Meynell, Alan Frost and of course Edward! The House at Hill Lane is a fascinating venue as an award-winning architect-designed eco house completed in 2015, owned and built by theatre director Joe Harmston and textile artist Polly Meynell. Private View: Thursday 14th November, 6pm – 8pmOpen House dates: 15th – 17th November 2019, 10am – 5pmAdmission free. The House at Hill Lane, 43 Hill Lane, Barnham PO22 0BL www.thehouseathilllane.com The Sussex Guild: Contemporary Craft Show Once again Edward will be participating in the annual Sussex Guild show at Midhurst Rother College, where over 50 members of the Guild will be exhibiting their work. Exhibition dates: 30th November – 1st December 2019, 10am – 5pmAdmission £3 for adults, students and children free Midhurst Rother College, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9DT https://thesussexguild.co.uk/ <back to blog
Spotlight on Freeform
26th September 2019
'Have nothing in your house that you do not knowto be useful or believe to be beautiful.' William Morris   Edward Johnson’s work is the product of a deep understanding of his materials and the desire to explore its possibilities. His creative approach allows him to think outside of the box and push the boundaries of his materials.     Edward’s designs are often conceptually based, but with form and function always at the fore. He perceives both beauty and usefulness in equal parts when designing and developing his ideas into thought-provoking, fluid and tactile forms. One of his principal aims is to challenge our understanding of what is possible, which he achieves through creative aptitude and his mastered ability to engineer in wood. Here we throw the spotlight onto his Freeform technique.     Freeform Collection: The Freeform Collection pushes laminating to its limits in a very different way to the methods adopted for the Ripples and Murano Collection. The sweeping curved elements used in the construction are made from one continuous length of timber, using various moulding techniques to shape and manipulate the material. Each curved element is then finished by hand using various spoke-shaves, requiring outstanding craftsmanship and a keen eye for detail. Typically, during the research and development stages of our freeform pieces, small-scale models and prototypes are made. Unusually, these often include sections made at actual size, in order to gauge the stresses, strains and limitations on the timber in each unique case.   ‘Ligamentum I’ coffee table   The Ligamentum I coffee table is made from walnut and glass.Dimensions: 160cm (w) x 45cm (h) x 75cm (d).Read more here.   'Ligamentum II' Chaise longue   The Ligamentum II chaise longue is made from walnut and a Mulberry fabric. Dimensions: 200cm (w) x 75cm (h) x 75cm (d).Read more here.   'Ligamentum III' chaise longue   The Ligamentum III chaise longue is made from oak with a Skopos fabric. Dimensions: 190cm (w) x 80cm (d) x 90cm (h).Read more here.   'Clover' coffee table   The Clover coffee table is made from oak, fumed oak and glass with brass detailing. Dimensions: 100cm (diam) x 45cm (h).Read more here.   'Splay' dining chairs   The Splay high-back and carver dining chairs are made from American walnut with oak detailing.Dimensions: High-back: 48cm (w) x 100cm (h) x 59cm (d).Carver: 58cm (w) x 70cm (h) x 59cm (d).Read more here.   'Undressed' clothes valet   The Undressed clothes valet is made from oak with walnut or fumed oak tray.Dimensions: 77.5cm (h) x 51.5cm (w) x 27.5cm (d).Read more here.     <back to blog
Spotlight on Murano
17th September 2019
  Edward sees this process as a way: ‘to manipulate the grain of the wood as an artist wouldmanipulate paint with a brush’.   Edward Johnson’s work is the product of a deep understanding of his materials and the desire to explore its possibilities. His creative approach allows him to think outside of the box and push the boundaries of his materials.     Edward's designs are often conceptually based, but with form and function always at the fore. He perceives both beauty and usefulness in equal parts when designing and developing his ideas into thought-provoking, fluid and tactile forms. One of his principal aims is to challenge our understanding of what is possible, which he achieves through creative aptitude and his mastered ability to engineer in wood. Here we throw the spotlight onto his Murano technique.   Samples of our Murano veneers in: oak, olive ash and ash; fumed oak and brown oak; ash and olive ash; oak, brown oak and fumed oak; elm and fumed oak; walnut and fumed oak.   Murano Collection The Murano Collection was originally inspired by a visit to the island of Murano, where Venetian master craftsmen have been producing glassware for centuries, by floating layers of different coloured glass through one another to produce exquisite patterns. Our Murano veneers have been developed and perfected in our workshop and are all made in-house. They have been adapted to form wavy, radial and straight designs. Each veneer uses contrasting timbers to add texture or to create a blended effect. The various patterns result in carefully matched sweeping lines and curves that engulf the entire surface of the furniture. This collection again stems from Edward’s interest and expertise in laminating. This time his aim was to develop an organic free-flowing form reminiscent of Venetian glass. To create this effect, hundreds of thin strips of wood are cut in the workshop and reconfigured, resulting in sweeping lines and curves bringing soft and organic patterns to the angular forms. The Murano veneers can be constructed in a wide range and combination of timbers and applied to almost any of our designs. Read more about Edward’s ‘Family Tree’ concept that adds an extra dimension and personalises our Murano commissions.   'Radiant' chest of drawers   The Radiant chest of drawers is made from fumed oak, brown oak, oak, olive ash and ash. Dimensions: 110cm (w) x 85cm (h) x 42cm (d).Read more here.   'Radiant' desk   The Radiant desk is made from fumed oak and brown oak.Dimensions: 198cm (w) x 75cm (h) x 75cm (d).Read more here. The Radiant desk was awarded a prestigious Bespoke Guild Mark in 2019 (Guild Mark No. 475).    'Family Tree' heirloom box   The Family Tree heirloom box shown in elm and fumed oak.Dimensions: 38cm (w) x 15cm (h) x 23.5cm (d).Read more here.   'Squaring the Circle' jewellery box   The Squaring the Circle jewellery box is made from elm and maple.Dimensions: 18cm (w) x 19cm (h) x 18cm (d).Read more here.   'Patchwork' sewing desk   The Patchwork sewing desk is made from oak, brown oak and fumed oak.Dimensions: 170cm – extending to 230cm (w) x 78cm (h) x 65cm – extending to 130cm (d).Read more here.   'Murano' sideboard   The Murano sideboard is made from ash, olive ash, fumed oak and brown oak. Dimensions: 186cm (w) x 116 (h) x 48cm (d).Read more here.   'Centrum I' chest of drawers   The Centrum chest of drawers is made from walnut with an oak starburst and oak interior.Dimensions: 65cm (w) x 59cm (h) x 47cm (d).Read more here.   'Centrum II' chest   The Centrum chest is made from oak, brown oak, scorched oak and cedar. Dimensions: 180cm (w) x 57.5cm (h) x 50cm (d).Read more here.   'Murano Cento' dining table   The Murano Cento extending dining table is made from walnut with brushed brass effect legs. Dimensions: 75cm (h) x 110cm (d) x 240cm extending to 410cm (l).Read more here.   <back to blog
Spotlight on Ripples
12th September 2019
Edward Johnson’s work is the product of a deep understanding of his materials and the desire to explore its possibilities. His creative approach allows him to think outside of the box and push the boundaries of his materials.   Edward describes his work as: ‘being led by a core desire to challenge and innovate’.     Edward's designs are often conceptually based, but with form and function always at the fore. He perceives both beauty and usefulness in equal parts when designing and developing his ideas into thought-provoking, fluid and tactile forms. One of his principal aims is to challenge our understanding of what is possible, which he achieves through creative aptitude and his mastered ability to engineer in wood. Here we throw the spotlight onto his Ripples technique.   Our Ripples concept in bog oak, ash, walnut and limed ash   Ripples Collection: All our Rippled furniture is made using a unique technique that has been developed and perfected by Edward Johnson. The Ripples technique pushes laminating in a whole new direction with the principal intention to create elegant, clean and fluid forms which allow the materials to provide the detail. Inspired by the action of a stone dropping into water, Edward’s concept was to give the illusion of concentric ripples engulfing the entire form; bringing movement, life and softness to the surfaces. Edward spent many hours designing, refining and prototyping this technique to enable the successful crafting of this unique rippled effect in timber, fully exploring the constructional details and calculating the parameters and limitations of the material. Edward’s exploratory approach can be traced back to his university research, when he first began to explore different methods of bending and forming timber in three dimensions. Edward has been developing his techniques and methodologies ever since and this has led to his finely-honed and innovative techniques. The rippled concept can be applied to nearly any piece of furniture with any desired function, in almost any wood. This technique has been also been acknowledged by winning two prestigious Bespoke Guild Marks and the Wood Awards.   'Ripples' chest of drawers   The Ripples chest of drawers is made from ash, with walnut, ash and cedar drawers. Dimensions: 140cm (w) x 95cm (h) x 45cm (d).Read more here. Ripples won the Wood Awards in 2013 – The UK’s premier award for excellence in design in wood.   'Bog Oak Ripples' chest   The Bog Oak Ripples chest is made in 5000+ year-old bog oak with an interior of book-matched olive ash burr. Dimensions: 128cm (w) x 55cm (h) x 50cm (d).Read more here. The Bog Oak Ripples chest was awarded a prestigious Bespoke Guild Mark in 2016 (Guild Mark No. 460).   'Orbis' drinks cabinet   The Orbis drinks cabinet is made in walnut with a quarter sawn oak interior and scorched oak base.Dimensions: 165cm (w) x 93cm (h), 54cm (d).Read more here. The Orbis drinks cabinet was awarded a prestigious Bespoke Guild Mark in 2016 (Guild Mark No. 458).   'Reflection' linen chest   The Reflection linen chest is made from limed ash with an interior of book-matched olive ash burr. Dimensions: 127cm (w) x 48cm (h) x 47cm (d).Read more here.   'Splash' coffee table   The Splash coffee table is made from light blue bird’s-eye maple and glass.Dimensions: 100cm (w) x 45cm (h) x 100cm (d).Read more here.   <back to blog
Crafting innovative furniture
15th August 2019
Crafting innovative furniture for inspiring people: the essence of our business. A little over a year ago we were working hard on the development of our new website, not only its new design but its content. This can be an exciting and interesting exercise albeit challenging to really nail it – to really think about what we do, why we do it, and how we can best convey what we can achieve for our clients in a logical and visually pleasing way. Importantly, before we could even begin to think about the website’s design and navigation, we focused our energy on thinking about every aspect of the business, from our products, our philosophy & promise, our processes and, most essentially, how we convey our close working relationship with our clients to ensure we produce excellent outcomes and solutions. This is an ongoing process that requires constant reassessment and we are always working hard to fine tune our message and mission, to be concise about the essence of the business and how we define what we offer with clarity and vision. This ongoing research is not only relevant for our website, but for every aspect of what we do, from publicity materials, to customer services, to categorising our services clearly to enable our clients to make informed decisions. In a nutshell, we design and make exclusive, bespoke and limited-edition luxury furniture to provide you with quality, originality and choice. We create products for those who are looking for something truly individual. We offer seven services, each one culminating in a beautiful piece of furniture that has been expertly and exquisitely crafted. Whichever option our clients choose – we pride ourselves on our customer care and in everything we design and create. We also guide our clients every step of the way! 'Crafting innovative furniture for inspiring people'     MADE & READY FURNITUREWe hold a selection of limited-edition furniture already made and ready for delivery. This often includes more affordable/smaller items from the Sussex Collection and occasionally Edward’s latest signature showpieces from the Signature Collection. This is ideal for those wanting to view and purchase something immediately. SUSSEX COLLECTIONThis is a selection of smaller limited-edition items, comprising of more affordable pieces. Each piece in the collection is made in our own workshop, with the same high-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail as any of the larger Edward Johnson pieces. SIGNATURE COLLECTIONWe offer a selection of Edward’s Signature Collection designs that can be tailored to your specific requirements. This option is ideal for those who like an existing signature design but would like it to meet their requirements without the premium cost and time commitment required to produce a totally new piece of bespoke furniture. BLUEPRINT COLLECTION The Blueprint Collection consists of Edward’s exploratory concepts that have been developed into initial designs but are yet to be finalised and put into production. The Blueprint Collection offers an exciting opportunity for anyone wishing to commission one of Edward’s more challenging and innovative creations. BESPOKE FURNITUREWe offer a flexible bespoke service where we tailor each piece to your specific requirements and lifestyle. We work with you to create a solid brief from the outset, and either start with a brand-new concept, or adapt one of our existing signature designs. EXCLUSIVE ONE-OFFWe offer an exclusive bespoke service for those clients wishing to commission a unique one-off design. This service is ideal for those who want exclusivity on a design. This service is as our bespoke option, but it attracts a premium due to the exclusive one-off nature of the pieces. SEASONED COLLECTIONIn the future you might move home, or your taste might change. Therefore, we provide a refurbish and re-sale service exclusively for our clients’ commissions. This secondary service is ideal for those who have commissioned a free-standing Edward Johnson design and wish to transfer custodianship.   <back to blog
Family tree - heirloom boxes
19th July 2019
The story behind four special heirloom gifts The best commissions involve a creative and fluid interaction and understanding between the client and designer and this 'Family Tree' heirloom box project epitomises this process. Having previously commissioned Edward to make a chest of drawers and delighted with the outcome, our client asked Edward to consider designing four* gifts that would become heirloom pieces for her grandchildren. Starting with an open brief, it took a few months to finalise exactly what form this commission would take, during which time the basic concept was born: to incorporate the date of birth of three generations of the family within the design of our Murano veneer.   The curved Murano pattern represents the annual growth rings of a tree, with the dark fumed oak core symbolising the year 1933, and the subsequent dark fumed oak lines marking each family member’s year of birth.     Executed to an exceptional level of craftsmanship by our cabinet maker Peter, two boxes have been made in elm and two in walnut, each containing the same dark fumed oak inlay lines. Juxtaposed with the Murano, the end of the box was designed to represent the bark of a tree. Taking inspiration from traditional Hakone marquetry and Tunbridge ware, hundreds of tiny squares of end grain create a unique smooth pattern resulting in a striking visual contrast. Using a bespoke bearing mechanism, the boxes pivot from one corner enabling the lid to swivel open to allow access to a shallow upper tray, which also opens to reveal a deeper second tray that has an illusion line to the outside.     *Our client was so delighted they’ve since commissioned an additional one for themselves! Family Tree - heirloom box   <back to blog
Cherishing Craftsmanship!
17th July 2019
Over the past ten years we have had the immense pleasure of working on some truly amazing projects, some that even now make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end. One project in particular changed even my perception of what we do and made me fall in love with cabinet making all over again. If you’re not the hands-on type I can appreciate that at best this sounds geeky and weird but let me try and explain. At the beginning of each project you’re full of ambition and partially ignorant to the true scale of the challenge ahead. You start with great excitement and importantly with a clean sheet. Unlike writing this article, where I can delete my mistakes, as a cabinet maker you more often than not have to live with them. Being a perfectionist, this can be enormously frustrating. To counter this, you plan with foresight, jot down notes, sketch, consider the various processes and jigs required and go to sleep trying to build in your mind a three-dimensional picture of each joint and component. You plan the timber out methodically, allowing for natural splits, knots, the occasional lead shot, and human mistakes whilst trying to keep your options open as much as possible. Then it’s full steam ahead and only experience tells you when you need to put the brakes on and take a step back.     The further into the project, the greater the responsibility builds. You’ve taken a simple but beautiful piece of timber, cut it, bent it, shaped it, glued it, shaped it some more, sanded it, sanded it some more, until it becomes a recognisable and tangible piece of furniture. In some cases, this can be the culmination of months of hard work, thousands of tiny decisions and numerous jubilant highs and nail-biting lows. I can assure you high-end furniture making is not for the faint-hearted! Of course, there are varying degrees of furniture making, from rustic joinery to fine cabinet making. You will know that we do not just machine a nice piece of timber, stick four legs on it, fill the gaps with bright coloured resin and push it out the door (I think I’d rather the piece of wood was left as it was, at least it would rot quicker without the resin in it! Arrghh!).     Fortunately, we work at the finer end of the industry and we are increasingly being commissioned to work on extraordinary projects. Projects that have allowed me and the team time to focus our craftsmanship skills and cherish our position as innovators in the industry. From the family tree boxes (see front page) that took over 500 hours to finesse, to two extraordinary chairs we made a couple of years ago, each one taking three months - yes, three months for each chair – it blows your mind doesn’t it! We’ve certainly been able to indulge and progress our ability as craftsmen and further explore the boundaries of furniture making. When you get to work at this level, it isn’t just a job, it’s a passion, and one that we are extremely grateful to be part of. In a world full of mass-produced plastic, it’s nice to provide our clients with a valuable traditional skill that continues to stand the test of time. Hence, I say thank you to all those who have commissioned us and other craftsmen and women alike to create beautiful objects and preserve skills that without your patronage wouldn’t exist. We cherish the craftsmanship process and we hope you enjoy the final product. Edward Johnson, July 2019   <back to blog