Sweden, England, Brittany, Normandy & Paris...

16th May 2017

We have containers arriving from all over Europe. The first is from Sweden - we have never shipped a full container out of Sweden, but this first container is full of wonderful Gustavian pieces: half round tables, stunning pairs of commodes and Louis XV and XVI style Swedish couches and day beds. Sweden is expensive but the style and colours are unmatched and complement our less formal lifestyle. It all started with the return of King Gustav lV from the French Court. Gustav was very taken with the Louis XV and XVI style furniture he saw in Paris, but he pared back the ornateness of French furniture and developed the unmistakable style of Swedish furniture.

I was fortunate to travel with my English agent Greenie. He has a wonderful and unerring eye for the right pieces. To keep an eye on this shipment’s contents use the Gustavian button on the website.

The next shipment is out of England but is mostly full of.....

French mirrors, Italian chandeliers and a number of 1950s Italian chairs. After Sweden, my next stop was the Battersea Decorative Fair in London (Greenie, my agent, exhibits at this fair). I find the Fair a source of inspirational and indicator of where decorative furniture is heading -The bleached burr walnut commodes are just gorgeous - one example graces the cover of our latest catalogue.

An aside - our latest catalogue is an amazing publication, produced by Kat & Mel. If you have not received your copy of the catalogue then please contact the shop on 529 1660 and we will send you one asap.� The catalogue is so nice to look at - it gives a snapshot of many of the products we import and manufacture. It has some great photographs of the bookcases, wine cellars, beds and leather upholstered furniture.

After Sweden and Battersea it was off to Yorkshire to sort out our shipping and buy a small amount of English furniture: mainly desks, military chests and cricket tables. Greenie’s son James is coming through the trade and dealing mainly in mid century pieces - we have a number of those mid century French brass coffee tables, which will complement our range of furniture (there are not a lot of 19th century coffee tables about), and some stunning 1950s silver and gold tea trollies (generally un-procurable), also a very nice large 1950s rosewood desk (that the architects will love).

Next stop Portsmouth, having rented the biggest VW van you have ever seen, to race down the M1. The ferry crossing was mercifully smooth - we have done them in force 10 hurricanes . The English Channel can keep you awake at night!

We have a collection of wonderful French trade suppliers who will open up for us in France (even on Sunday or during the 2 hour lunch break). How things have changed! Greenie is so well respected in the French (and English) trade that we often get invited back to the dealer’s home to look at special pieces. On one such visit I bought a wonderful zinc cockerel from a chateau, while sharing the dealers’ 5 course lunch with wine … It is a wonder they are not all obese. I have no idea how they work in the afternoon … The talk is of Brexit and its effect on the trade.

We emptied the van for the first time at our shipper Sylvie on the Breton/Normandy border. The French calls makes for a busy couple of days, with over 20 calls. Again, I am lucky to have Damian to drive, and a good sat nav to get about. The wide French tables are bought, along with the good Louis XV and XVI long arm chairs, the inlaid bomb commodes and the large cupboard and bookcases. Another quick trip back to the shipper and then we were off to the two largest antique fairs in the north of France . We already had enough furniture for the shipment, so it just looking for the finer things: the cherrywood bureau plats etc. You have to be quick at the fairs, they start early in the morning, often before sunrise, and they are over and gone by mid morning. We purchased the best Louis XV bureau plat at the fair and a stunning mirror from the same dealer who had found both pieces in the same chateau, plus a very nice small round marble topped 200 year old gueridon.� Fortunately our shipper had an empty van so we were able to trainload in the carpark - like gun runners, only legal, and head off for the final day’s buying. We found a stunning 18th century mirror, a very early Dutch bombe commode and a perfect collection of 44 19th century confit pots. Our third and fourth containers were full!

France is vast, we drove 4000km in six days - then it was back on the ferry and up to London, with a couple of deliveries on the way. Two nights in London and off to the theatre with Charlotte Stephens _ A French farce called The Miser, with Griff Rhys Jones - very funny.

Meanwhile, I had sent Kat to High Point in North Carolina, to the largest furniture fair in the world. So, en route home, I joined her for the last day of the trade fair. This fair is a huge undertaking and it feels like every North American furniture maker is exhibiting. It is vast, with 40km of corridors and link busses, Accomodation is obviously at a premium but, at the 11th hour, Kat managed to book an Airbnb in Greensboro - I was welcome to stay in the spare bedroom as long as I did not mind sharing it with Jethro the albino king constrictor snake! Fortunately, he lived in his own large aquarium Snakey and I were fine together.�

Kat has done a great job sourcing many decorative suppliers, whose wares will come in later in the year. There’s a possible French bombe commode manufacturer (now manufacturing in Portugal because of the French labour laws) - we have struggled to make economical bombe commodes in New Zealand and Doug, our very experienced cabinetmaker, has encouraged me to find a quality supplier off shore - but I won’t compromise on the quality and proportion. Anyway this chap was impressive.

Kat sourced a wonderful supplier of bleached Persian rugs at the fair she attended in Paris last year. The first sample shipment has all sold. The second consignment of rugs is in the 5th container, coming from Europe filled with new French beds and cane bergere.

Last month was our busiest on record and we take this opportunity to thank all our customers, designers and architects for their loyalty and patronage.�

We will email everyone as each of the containers arrives.


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