Bespoke Cabinet Work: Concept to Completion
Furniture made entirely to order. That is to say, bespoke. It is the only way we craft furniture. One piece at a time, specific to our client’s requirements.
The process starts with a concept, at times well thought through and accompanied by professional drawings, and at other times casual sketches or notes on function. Inspiration frequently originates with an antique or a piece on our website. Whatever the source, it is a starting point for our design and shop team to work with you to fully understand the project.
Let’s follow the process of a recently completed, fairly complex project.
Our client explained their desire for a large server that was to be a “statement” piece in their new home. They favored antiques but had found nothing in the scale required.
The client presented photographs of an item that appealed to them in a design sense but did not meet the function requirements. They liked the ornate features and the color of the piece.
What did we learn from this first brief discussion?
- The server needed to be visually comfortable with the client’s antiques. It had to appear to be a genuine period piece.
- The timber would be Mahogany with an ebonized finish. Appearance to be that of a well-kept antique
- Carving and gilding skills would be required.
- Original hardware needed to be designed and cast.
- Antiqued mirrors would be needed.
CONCEPT DRAWINGS or RENDERINGS
To understand the broad picture of a project we frequently develop concept drawings and a rendering. In this case, as the end result was to be very different than the antique that inspired it, concept drawings were provided to visualize the scale as well as placement of doors and drawers.
After review and discussion, size as well as some design elements were agreed upon.
- The outer doors were to have carved and gilded panels inset while the center four doors would be fitted with antiqued mirrors.
- The drawers would be as in the original piece and would require made-to-order hardware and extensive carving.
- Interior of the cabinet to be fitted with adjustable shelves.
- At this point we were able to estimate the budget for the project.
We now had approval to move forward, contingent upon approval of carving, gilding and finish samples.
Work could now commence in the cabinet shop, however, many details were yet to be determined. Drawings of carved features were provided and samples ordered.
SAMPLES FOR APPROVAL
Each member of the team needed to see samples to understand the aesthetic of the final piece. To accomplish that task, we provided samples from each trade involved in the commission.
Work on detailed elements did not proceed until the client had approved the samples, or suggested revisions, in which case new samples were provided.
On this project all samples were approved with the exception of the gilding. The client desired a warmer gold hue. We got it right on the second set of samples.
IT ALL COMES TOGETHER
While the samples worked their way through the approval process, the cabinet shop constructed the case. To bring the project to completion required a coordinated effort between several trades.
Carved panels and drawer fronts are provided to the finisher, then to the gilder, and finally back to the finisher before being installed by the cabinetmaker.
Mirrors are installed in the center four door frames and the hardware fitted throughout. Finally, the drawers are lined with baize.
THE COMPLETED PROJECT
From the first meeting to completion, this very complex undertaking took five months. Upon arrival in New York from our shop in England, it was fully detailed and waxed in order that it be perfect upon installation.
The project involved,
- Our Client
- Timber merchants
- Foundry Workers
- Shippers and Installers