Thursday, 4 April 2013

Sleek and Chic: Alexandra Robinson Furniture

One of the reasons I find it so utterly impossible even to consider moving away from Notting Hill is that I love the market - both on the Golborne Road and the Portobello Road - so much that I can't imagine living anywhere that isn't two minutes walk away.  I like knowing that I can buy a fur coat at any time of year.  I like that they often have random steel band performances in the backs of lorries.  I like meandering along and finding an old vase or jardiniere that it is just perfect for the bunch of tulips or pot of hydrangea that I've just bought, to the extent that we now have so many that we're running out of places to put them.  Equally I have enough trims and off-cuts and tassels to upholster a whole house (which is actually what I'm kind of doing, at least in my head.  I've just come across a toile that is going to be perfect on the chairs in the orangery of our non-existent country pile.) And both my husband and I like sorting through the endless junkety antique shops, finding treasures such as book shelves and old church pews and giant conch shells and pretty little chairs and stools; it's where most of our furniture originates from.  But although there was some we actually needed, there are more than a few bits that Andrew haggled in as a bonus; suffice to say, our house is ever so slightly crowded, and very occasionally I worry that it's beginning to look a bit too much like the upstairs of Arbon Interiors on the Golborne Road, i.e. a furniture repository.

Antique (well, old) trunks on the Golborne Road

One of my favourite furniture shops - I've tried to buy the neon sign but they won't let me because the electrics are more than a bit dodge, apparently.

Interior of the Cloth Shop on the Portobello Road.  Heaven.

But just occasionally, I come across something that makes me hanker after sleeker, chicer living, with clean lines and less clutter, and right now that something is Alexandra Robinson Furniture:

 Alexandra Robinson desk

 Alexandra Robinson console

I want both these pieces, and the parquet floor.  (Although I've actually got grand plans to paint our floors, I want them to look like a wild flower meadow, but my husband is as yet being somewhat unflinching in his opinion that it will be a disaster because my talent doesn't match my enthusiasm.)  

Anway, back to Alexandra:  having spent most of her working life at Christie's, she has seen more pieces of beautiful furniture and outstanding examples of twentieth century design than most, and has been able to fine hone her aesthetics over a period of several years.  "The early and mid 20th Century is, in my mind, the period that produced the most striking paintings and sculpture. I love the work of artists such as Modigliani, with his unique style of clean lines and earthy colours, and then later British artists such as Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, who both produced exquisite work, similar in their simple striking forms.  Furniture was seeing a dramatic change at this time too, both Gio Ponti and Diego Giacometti are among my favourites, and produced beautiful work that is also timeless."

Diego Giacometti, elephant table

Diego Giacometti, owl table

Gio Ponti, table

Alexandra started designing her own pieces because she couldn't find what she wanted when it came to decorating her own home - thus immediately showing that she has a more discerning eye than me, and that she's better at editing.  (I bet she doesn't go to Arbon Interiors to find a chest of drawers, and come home with a bookshelf and another chair.)  There's also a coffee table and a kitchen island in the collection, and more pieces are coming.   And she does bespoke commissions.  "I wanted to create a range of honestly priced furniture that would be beautiful in its simplicity and quality," she states. "All pieces are made in the UK by local British craftsmen and using materials such as solid oak and handsome stones."  

So when I've got my country pile, I know where to go to stock it.  And in the mean time, I think I'm about to develop a teeny tiny obsession with Diego Giacometti.  And as I'm never going to be able to afford Christie's prices, I'm going to have to keep on scouring the market, just in case one slips through the net.