Master cabinet-maker and director of 1718, Michael Mancini has built a reputation as one of Britain’s finest designers and craftsman of fine furniture. Specialising in creating one-off bespoke pieces for discerning clients, I asked him why would a client or designer want a bespoke piece?
To Michael, furniture perhaps more so than any other element of the design of a room is a personal thing and a bespoke piece is a way to express the individual’s unique personality both in terms of form and function.
Functionality is a key part of the design process; what the piece will be used for will determine how it is designed and before anything else Michael explains that this will always be the first question he asks during the initial consultation stage. Whether it is a desk, he’ll seek to understand exactly how the person works and design around that, likewise with a dining table understanding how often it is used, for how many people, what kind of events is crucial.
Another way the piece expresses the individual’s personality is through the style. We all have an aesthetic and stylistic preference whether it is modern or classical, gothic or art-deco. The bespoke piece can be embody this aesthetic both as a stand-alone piece and in the context of the space. Colours, timber, metals, marble or leather finishes are all carefully selected based on both the preferences of the individual and to complement the space. So many elements of the room need to be considered from the flooring, to the wall colours, the fabric of the curtains and sofas, the metals of the ironmongery and the wood of the cabinets. There is also the issue of the size of the space, it should be neither too big nor too small in order to feel at home in the space.
Many of Michael’s clients are interior designers whose job is to create a vision for a space and to achieve that vision. For them, bespoke furniture can be invaluable in allowing them to create that vision without compromise. Rather than spending days searching and paying over the odds for a piece that is not quite right, a bespoke piece allows the designer’s idea to be realised and can often be the centrepiece of the room that the rest of the design is based around.
There is a lasting element with bespoke pieces, knowing that a piece was designed specifically for you, to suit how you live, to express your style and personality. This builds a closer bond that clients have with these pieces. Michael describes the delight that customers feel when they first see the piece and how this affection grows over time, proudly showing it to friends and describing how it was made specially for them.