Goldsmiths' Company Pavilion is at Somerset House, West Wing Galleries, Strand from Wednesday June 26 to Saturday June 29, 11am to 6.30pm, (Saturday 10am to 6pm). Entry £5.
Two ancient livery companies, The Goldsmiths' Company and the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, have joined forces to display and sell contemporary silver and designer-made furniture in the palatial surroundings of Somerset House.
As a taste of the unique work on show at the Goldsmiths' Company Pavilion event, Rod Wales of design duo Wales and Wales is offering Animal, a console table made of solid ripple ash and based on a humble sawhorse or workshop trestle. This company is known for its understated furniture combining function with the aesthetic. It creates one-off pieces and works also for the mass market.
Its designs work well with pieces by James Dougall, who became a silversmith after 25 years as an antiques dealer and director of an auction house. His designs are architectural and he often makes boxes, combining silver with inlaid shagreen and sharkskin.
In direct contrast is the glittering work of Jake Phipps, a designer known for his trademark Jeeves bowler hat light shades. At Pavilion, Jake is showing Stellar, a dazzling, limited-edition console to match his earlier mirror. The surface of Stellar is highly reflective, polished stainless steel, but its front is cut through as if to expose the inside of an amethyst geode. The 900 cut surfaces collect and refract light. "It creates a sparkle as you move," said Phipps.
On a much smaller scale, Northern Irish silversmith Samantha Moore also creates pieces — such as her Can't see the wood for the trees bowl — that reflect and distort the light.
Her interventions, however, are generally on the interior of the object, as delicate patterns pierced through her hand-formed vessels. "I really enjoy working on small-scale silversmithing, in particular creating jewel-like pieces, using precious and semi-precious stones. I like playing with colours and layer patterns on silver that tell stories."
The synergy between silversmiths and furniture-makers is a cause of delight to renowned designer-maker and founder of the Parnham furniture workshops, John Makepeace. "I collect contemporary silver myself — we have a collection of makers' silver goblets that work wonderfully with my furniture." His dramatic marquetry Zebra cabinets in English blackened oak and pale holly — inspired by his travels in Kenya — open to reveal a flash of scarlet lacquer.
High on the list of silversmiths whose designs would work with those of Makepeace is Ryan McClean. His highly decorative work is often ridged and furrowed in dramatic 3D texturing. His Sea Urchin and Brain Coral collections have patterns that echo those of Makepeace's Zebra.
Silversmith Abigail Brown is also influenced by nature — ie plant forms and the human body. Her work is often dramatically folded and curved. It complements that of furniture designer Simon Yates, whose signature pieces always reflect movement. His Grace Jones table has a sweeping pedestal reminiscent of the singer's quiff. "I like dynamic furniture. It needs to function but it needs a bit of a wow factor."