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Meet The Designer: Salvation Furniture

Posted on Aug 13, 2017 by

In this week’s Meet The Designer instalment we sit down with Richard of Salvation Furniture! Makers of design-led furniture their collection of tables, seating and storage combine tactile, natural materials with hard lines and an industrial edge. Read on as we roll up our sleeves and take a peek inside their artisan workshop.

"When sourcing reclaimed wood it has to have real character, to have lived a life. We look for scars of its former life and celebrate them..."

“When sourcing reclaimed wood it has to have real character, to have lived a life. We look for scars of its former life and celebrate them…”
Image courtesy of Salvation Furniture

Introduce yourself! What do you specialise in?

We try to take a real artisan approach to what we’re doing. That means items that are made by hand in Suffolk or by working with other small makers, so it’s not a huge factory operation churning out replica pieces. As such, everything Salvation makes and sells is unique. So the steel frames for our tables and benches will have the grinding marks left in place and each piece of wood is individual with its own character – that’s the appeal. We don’t want things to be too ordered or perfect like machine-made pieces, but more natural, rustic, relaxed and lived-in for a welcoming and ‘soulful’ feel, with a modernist edge for contemporary interiors. The result is the kind of tables and benches you might find in a tucked-away country pub, making them ideal places for families and friends to gather, relax, catch-up and share good food. Furniture for the heart of the home; a place for some well-deserved moments of refuge from busy lives.

What do you look for when sourcing reclaimed timber?

With reclaimed wood it has to have real character and to have lived a life. We love that it has the knocks and scars of its former life intact and celebrated. Once it has been cleaned up and sympathetically sanded, it reveals an inherent beauty that makes it the perfect choice for tables and benches that bring instant warmth to a space.

What pieces continue to prove popular with your customers?

Our Lily dining table in character oak has always been a popular choice since we launched it a few months ago, and we’ve had lots of orders. Another in-demand style is our Deben table, which we have been making since starting Salvation some four years ago. We think it’s the combination of the natural textures of wood that is showcased on understated and angled steel frames that give the furniture statement appeal.

The Lily dining table in character Oak is a popular choice for customers at Salvation Furniture

The Lily dining table in character Oak is a popular choice for customers at Salvation Furniture
Image courtesy of Salvation Furniture

You also offer a bespoke service, what has been your favourite commission so far?

It’s hard to say! We’ve kitted out everything from offices and cafes to student communal areas and private homes. We did some really cool shelving units and tables for Arup’s Sheffield office, some similar pieces for Goldsmiths University and a range of tables and benches for the guys at Teapigs. We’re always flexible in our approach and keen to offer great service, so it’s always thrilling to get positive feedback from any clients.

Do you have a preferred material/timber to work with? Why?

It would probably be oak. As it’s a slow-growing, dense timber, its character is legendary, making it a popular choice of timber for furniture-makers for generations. It also has an emotional pull as oak is deep-rooted in the British psyche for numerous practical and symbolic reasons. It even smells great in the workshop when being cut and sanded!

What pieces do you find the most joy in creating?

There’s something uniquely satisfying about seeing a dining table of large proportions coming together, particularly the first time it’s placed on its steel frame. I particularly like the juxtaposition of the natural material of timber against an angle of steel, with its burnishes and weld marks. There is a quiet honesty about our tables that makes them an understated statement – if that’s not a contradiction!

What’s next for Salvation Furniture? Is there anything we should know about?

We’re always trying to think of new ideas and looking to expand our range. As mentioned before, we’ve recently started using character oak for table tops, which is proving popular due to its distinctive grain and knots. At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve also just started making tops from birch plywood, which is a great material to work with and has its own particular visual beauty. With its laminated edges and the patterned whirls on the surface, brought alive with Danish oil, it’s relatively under-rated, but we hope to change that! We’re also interested in the idea of showcasing more ‘found’ furniture, sourced from auctions, which share that same time-worn warmth and relaxed vibe. Watch this space!

"We take a real artisan approach to what we're doing. That means items are made by hand in Suffolk or by working with other makers..."

“We take a real artisan approach to what we’re doing. That means items are made by hand in Suffolk or by working with other makers…”
Image courtesy of Salvation Furniture

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