To mark ‘Sustainable September’, we visited Derwent House in Witney, Oxfordshire, an interiors store that brings together handcrafted furniture and homewares under one roof, all made in Britain by small businesses and individual designer-makers. Their commitment to supporting sustainable living is evident.
Ali Griffiths, from Derwent House says, ‘We know that when it comes to furnishing a home, investing in well-made pieces using high quality materials pays in the long run. Whether it is mainstay pieces to save for and invest in like a sofa, a bed and a dining table, or finishing touches such as a luxurious throw handwoven in British wool or a ceramic bowl that bears witness to the marks of the maker you will find pieces that won’t date like an ‘on trend’ or ‘designer’ find’.
Spanning 6,000 sq ft, Derwent House is a light, airy space for design-conscious customers looking to take a slower, more considered approach to shopping for handmade, sustainable collections of sofas and armchairs by Delcor, organic mattresses and beds by Naturalmat, cabinet furniture and homewares, artwork by local artists and quirky vintage treasures.
The team at Derwent House carefully curates their collections, and so we asked them to pick ten of the best designer-makers to inspire us this autumn. Read on to be inspired…
- Sofa and armchair maker Delcor have been quietly building a reputation and flying the flag for British craftsmanship for over 50 years. The classic and elegant Fulham sofa references Victorian designs with its generous scroll arms, T-shaped seat cushions and lovely proportions to create an open inviting look. Each Delcor sofa is handcrafted to order in Northumberland by skilled craftsmen and women so dimensions can be tweaked, customers can select any fabric, from firmer or softer cushion interiors and either a classic turned style leg or square tapered leg for a more contemporary look.
2. Naturalmat’s award winning Tremendous topper is far from your average mattress topper. It is a luxury blend of supportive natural latex, tapped from the Hevea tree, surrounded top and bottom with sumptuous cashmere, bamboo and locally sourced organic lambswool. All Naturalmat mattresses and toppers are made by hand in their solar-powered Devon workshop from entirely natural and organic fibres. The fibres in the Tremendous topper are wrapped in the same clever covers used across Naturalmat’s mattress range, which are naturally hypoallergenic and meet all safety standards without the need for any nasty chemical fire retardants to give nights of restful, natural sleep.
3. The contemporary Muse dining table unites elegance and comfort. Its striking yet simple form, suits a variety of living spaces. The table has an elegantly rounded tabletop, so there is always room for one more person. Crafted by hand by social enterprise Goldfinger in their North Kensington workshop, the top features a chamfered edge, adding lightness to the silhouette.
The tabletop is made from solid British wood, in a choice of elm (pictured), oak or walnut, sourced locally from trees that have been felled due to urban development or weather-related incidents. The GPS coordinates of where the original tree once stood are stamped on the underside of each piece – so that you’ll never forget its rich history. The tabletop rests on a steel base, with powder-coating available in a range of standard or bespoke colours.
4. Flora and fauna prints are a country style staple. Abigail Bury’s joyful botanical prints celebrate the natural abundance of the English countryside capturing the beauty of garden birds and insects, leaves and ferns and floral bouquets.
5. Albert Harvey’s beautiful cushions and lampshades inspired by the countryside surrounding his Oxfordshire studio have ‘perfect imperfections’ as a result of the ancient art of block printing technique Albert employs.
6. Emma Lacey hand throws each Everyday mug in her studio using fine stoneware clay and finishing with a beautiful tactile satin matt glaze. She leaves a subtle dent which allows the user to experience the softness the clay just after it is thrown on the wheel and the wide handle is particularly popular as you can get a good hug around your warm drink!
7. Laura’s Loom Cumbrian Summer Blankets are woven from a mix of Hebridean and Bluefaced Leicester wool, which she sources from farms close to her studio, that together create hard-wearing but very soft yarn. These generously sized blankets will easily cover a large sofa or double bed, perfect to use as an extra cover in winter or as a lightweight layer on cool summer nights.
8. Living with the soothing tactile qualities of wood in home environments lowers stress levels and enhances our well-being. Jayne Armstrong’s lathe-turns her bowls to an almost paper-thin delicacy celebrating the strength and grain of the wood she uses.
9. In a nod to their glass blowing heritage the Loco Glass Landscape Range uses chips and grains of coloured glass to create colourful and playful ‘after hours’ pieces, that the old glass factory makers used to produce at the end of the glassblowing day. Hand blown decorative or functional vases that will look stunning in a contemporary or classic interior.
10. Leigh Pottery’s new pod vases in clay have an organic quality that take direct inspiration from the vessel-like shapes of seed pods.
Derwent House is open Tuesday to Saturday. 9.30am – 5.30pm, and there is free parking to the rear of the store.
For more inspiration and information, visit Derwenthouseliving.co.uk