GRAY AREA

Welsh fur­ni­ture de­signer Bethan Gray’s love of craft and cul­tures shines through in her el­e­gant cre­ations.

VOGUE Living Australia - - Contents - fiona mccarthy

Fur­ni­ture de­signer Bethan Gray’s love of craft and cul­tures shines in her cre­ations

Apas­sion for mak­ing has al­ways run through Welsh fur­ni­ture de­signer Bethan Gray’s veins. Her forester grand­fa­ther whit­tled lit­tle ta­bles for her when she was a child grow­ing up in Cardiff, Wales; her great­great grand­mother was a trained cab­i­net­maker. “I was al­ways build­ing stuff at school, mak­ing things as presents for friends,” Gray rem­i­nisces. To­day, after two decades in the busi­ness — first work­ing as de­sign di­rec­tor at UK high street re­tailer Habi­tat and then es­tab­lish­ing her own Lon­don-based stu­dio in 2008 (with her hus­band and busi­ness part­ner, Mas­simo) — Gray is now firmly one of the most sought-after de­sign­ers of her gen­er­a­tion. This Septem­ber, dur­ing Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val, she will launch not one but five new projects, each with a love of crafts­man­ship at its core. At Decorex, Gray will in­tro­duce new ad­di­tions to her Sham­sian Col­lec­tion, which first de­buted in 2016 to show­case the ex­tra­or­di­nary 16th-cen­tury Is­lamic marquetry tech­niques of Ira­nian artist Mo­hamad Reza Sham­sian, one of the Sul­tan of Oman’s favourite ar­ti­sans. “I’d wanted to do some­thing with wood that was more dec­o­ra­tive, and I’d never seen that level of crafts­man­ship be­fore,” Gray says of the way Sham­sian and his team of mas­ter crafts­men have cre­ated tech­niques to in­lay del­i­cate lay­ers of ve­neer — stain washed in shades like jade, teal and rose pink — with el­e­gant, fine lines of brass. The hand­crafted na­ture of the range (each piece can also be cus­tomised in size, colour, metal and om­bre fin­ish) has proven a great suc­cess. “When the col­lec­tion first ar­rived at our Syd­ney re­tailer Liv­ing Edge last spring, one piece sold be­fore the team had even un­packed it,” says Gray. Now the de­signer’s graphic Nizwa and Dhow pat­terns, in­spired by Omani ar­chi­tec­ture and tra­di­tional sail­ing boats, and ini­tially ap­plied to cab­i­nets and con­soles, will ap­pear on a new bar cab­i­net and two brass-based ta­bles in mar­ble. Gray’s Dhow pat­tern will also de­but at Decorex on a cap­sule col­lec­tion of ce­ram­ics for Stokeon-Trent-based pot­tery mak­ers 1882 Ltd. Across town at De­sign Junc­tion, Gray has de­signed a pop-up whiskey bar for Scot­tish dis­tillery The Glen­livet, and Swiss watch brand Rado will launch her take on its True Thin­line model. Dur­ing the de­sign fes­ti­val, An­thro­polo­gie will also in­tro­duce Gray’s new Strike col­lec­tion of bed, chairs, ta­bles, cab­i­nets and rugs, with pat­terns in­spired by forms, tex­tures and mo­tifs found in na­ture.

It’s clear Gray has found her niche. “I want to cre­ate a con­nec­tion between the beau­ti­ful things I love to de­sign,” she says, “with where they’re be­ing made and who is mak­ing them.” Visit bethangray.com; livingedge.com.au; lon­don­de­sign­fes­ti­val.com

Omani for­ti­fi­ca­tions were the in­spi­ra­tion for the Nizwa Cab­i­net, from Bethan Gray’s Sham­sian Col­lec­tion. The de­signer in Oman (below).

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