The Magic of Bespoke
October 16, 2023
Years ago in New York City, I walked into a small downtown leathersmith at the insistence of a college friend from Italy who was constantly stressing the benefits of hand stitched leather bags and shoes. I don’t remember the particular shop but I do remember the warm smell of leather and seeing all of the tools laid out. Faced with an infinite number of options I decided to commission a simple, little black backpack, something timeless.
All these years later that bag is in great shape and is still one of my favorites. What stays with me is the the experience of meeting the maker, selecting the leather, discussing stitching and other details and going back to finally pick it up.
Just like my experience in New York so long ago, there is something wonderful about walking into a furniture studio or workroom, exchanging greetings and finding artisans at work on a special piece for a client. With an excess of furniture, drapery and home decor items immediately available in stores and online its understandable that some might question the value of bespoke furnishings and custom drapery.
While a great deal of your home will often be furnished with items from larger retailers there is something to be said about investing in pieces that are made specifically for you. At CWI we tend to acquire at least one or two bespoke items for our clients and often more than that. This is because we want them to have pieces with quality and longevity and to create spaces that are not only beautiful but also very personal. This is the magic of bespoke goods.
The Value of Experience
Working with artisans for so many years I know what kind of effort and care is put into all they do. They have dedicated hours accumulating skills to master their craft.
What goes into creating these custom pieces? A lot!
It starts with an idea, measurements and a sketch and then depending on the amount of detail, possibly shop drawings. Following that, samples of materials and types of finishes are reviewed and labored over and over keeping the whole project in mind.
As an example, when commissioning a dining table we consider seating capacity, how the client might use it on a daily basis vs. holidays or events, whether it needs to extend, etc. We discuss wood type, thickness of the top, edging detail, base material and so much more. A skilled furniture maker has the ability to take all of these details in mind and marry form with function.
A Custom Solution
When designing spaces for our clients we consider how a client lives in the space on a daily basis and in what ways we can make their day to day simpler? This is when bespoke can be of value.
In one of our clients office spaces we wanted a console that provided function but that would also be a beautiful piece. It needed to provide hidden file storage and a specific space for a printer. We wanted something unique and special and extremely practical.
I started with a simple sketch and then collaborated with the cabinet maker. As usual there were many details to be worked through and developed. These included dimensions, wood type and finish, door style, deciding how each section would function, for example doors with shelving behind them, drawers for files and other supplies, a pull out for the printer etc. Finally researching and finding just the right hardware to compliment the piece.
In the end because we went with a cabinet maker who could build this piece to our exact specifications we were able to deliver a very special piece of furniture that was made to fit our clients exact needs while seamlessly working with our overall design.
Just like that little backpack I can’t bear to let go of, working with an experienced artisan, you can specify something that fits your exact needs along with giving you the opportunity to express your style.
We love that we can introduce our clients to this way of acquiring important pieces for their homes. It’s also wonderful discovering newly emerging artisans. Happily, great craftsmanship is still out there.
“I believe that when we arrive, our home should reach out and welcome us in.”