Sebastian Blakeley is an English designer from Cornwall. He works exclusively with Broadway Luxury, creating high quality, high end furniture either from his existing designs or via commission. We took a moment to catch up with Sebastian and ask him a few questions about his life and work.
When did you first realise you have an interest in design?
For the first decade of my professional life I concentrated on my manual craft skills. In my mid twenties I moved to Tuscany in Italy. I had been designing my own bespoke furniture in the UK and continued to do so in Italy. After a couple of years in Italy I found myself building other designers prototypes and through this I was introduced into the whole Italian concept of design and production. Unlike the British approach of making a complete piece of furniture the Italians approach their designs component by component. This was an epiphany for me and released in me a highly energetic and productive period of experimenting with different materials and learning to look at my designing in a completely different way. So this was in my early thirties.
How do you start a new design – where does your inspiration come from?
If it is a commission I need to meet the client, see the house and their environment. I then need to find myself a quiet place and meditate on their request/idea/dream until I get a mental image of what it is that they are looking for. I can then prepare conceptual sketches.
Otherwise sometimes just driving around or in a moments relaxation an image can just pop into my head.
So my inspiration comes from moments when I allow myself a connection with a bigger picture, the universe.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
I do have a very strong affinity with timber but I do love working with many different materials. A hopefully ever expanding array of materials.
Are there any designers or pieces you admire/respect?
I like and admire many different designers. The strongest draw for me is the honest use of the material, a clean linear form and real, practical functionality. Many of the early industrial designers 30’s to 50’s designers.
What advice would you give to young designers starting out?
Gain a really good hands on knowledge of the materials they would like to work with. Learn to let the design concept find you. Try and work from outside any specified parameters. Let the parameters be a guide line rather than a dictate.
What do you think the trends in furniture design will be in 10 years?
Two different directions, futuristic, innovative, whacky and extremely expensive AND/OR versatile, multipurpose cheap. Up-cycling will become more prevalent in both camps.
What do you find special about creating a bespoke piece for a client?
Coming up with a design that renders the client speechless. It is a very special relationship to be able to bring into reality a piece of furniture that a client has only seen in their dreams.
What is the hardest part of furniture design and build?
Probably helping the client to understand the costs involved.
How many hours does it take to make one chair – say the Toro chair for example
Making one Toro chair on its own, all inclusive, woodwork, aluminium, hand finishing and upholstery takes about 80 hours.
Are there any environmental concerns you take into consideration when deciding on the materials you use?
I use only managed forestry timbers, I avoid any synthetic finishes and sub contract to companies that have good environmental credentials. I do not use plastic or polystyrene packing when shipping
Sebastian's work is available exclusively through Broadway Luxury. He can bespoke any design and a selection of furniture is on sale directly from the showroom.