Com­pelling Cof­fers

English aris­to­crat, fur­ni­ture maker and chair­man of the auc­tion house Christie’s UK, David Lin­ley, talks about his lat­est project with art sup­plier, Win­sor & New­ton.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Ideal Homes & Art - By Josh Sims

David Lin­ley, son of Princess Mar­garet and 18th in line to the Bri­tish throne, can get ex­cited about wooden boxes. “Well, we are box-mak­ers,” he says. “And a neatly fin­ished box is a very pleas­ing ob­ject.” Lin­ley is, of course, more than his aris­to­cratic con­nec­tions: the son of pho­tog­ra­pher and ar­chi­tect Antony Arm­strong-jones, he fol­lowed his fa­ther’s creative lean­ings in learn­ing to be­come a cab­i­net maker and then, 30 years ago, es­tab­lished a busi­ness mak­ing be­spoke and off-the-peg fur­ni­ture and home­wares.

But he’s un­com­monly en­thused by his lat­est of­fer­ing: a col­lec­tion of com­pen­dia - por­ta­ble boxes that open to re­veal draw­ers, hold­ers and stands - de­signed in con­junc­tion with art sup­plier Win­sor & New­ton.

“It’s par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing be­cause, when I first started in busi­ness, I worked with an artist - Matthew Rice - who used Win­sor & New­ton paints,” says Lin­ley. “He was a trained wa­ter­colourist and he’s made our ideas re­al­ity in wa­ter­colours. That was what you did, de­spite the avail­abil­ity of CAD sys­tems now. I don’t use wa­ter­colours my­self but I do still like to sketch ideas out.” That, in­deed, is the think­ing be­hind the com­pen­dia: a recog­ni­tion of the fact that cre­atives of all kinds of­ten use what to­day can seem rather out-moded means of ex­pres­sion to give first life to their no­tions. This is, ad­mit­tedly, a rather lux­u­ri­ous ex­pres­sion of that con­tention, mind: while the new range starts at £250 (S$447) for an ink draw­ing set in wal­nut, the top of the range weighs in at £12,500. Yes, it may be made with a rip­ple sy­camore ve­neer bleached to mimic the colour of primed can­vas, and have a

“I don’t use wa­ter­colours my­self but I do still like to sketch ideas out.”

mar­quetry colour wheel of 12 hand­dyed birch, tay and bo­li­var ve­neers, not to men­tion the 13 brushes, 96 wa­ter­colours and var­i­ous other bits of kit in­side - but clearly this is not for the im­pov­er­ished artist.

“We get that of course,” laughs Win­sor & New­ton’s creative di­rec­tor Ben Ho­vanes­sian, “but still feel artists of all lev­els would ap­pre­ci­ate the crafts­man­ship that has gone into these wa­ter­colour boxes. We ac­tu­ally sold the first one to a prac­tis­ing wa­ter­colourist.”

Nor is this the only new launch for the 184-year- old com­pany. Fol­low­ing a brand over­haul in 2015, this year will see the re­launch of its wa­ter­colour pa­per and can­vas ranges, as well as the in­tro­duc­tion of a patented de­vice that al­lows a pain­ter to ratchet up the ten­sion on a can­vas (can­vas be­ing prone to sag­ging over time).

Win­sor & New­ton hopes the Lin­ley com­pen­dia will be the first of a num­ber of such col­lab­o­ra­tions, with ones with fash­ion and prod­uct de­sign­ers be­ing planned. “Be­cause,” as Ho­vanes­sian puts it, “these are all tools and ma­te­ri­als that aren’t re­stricted to fine artists in their use - they’re en­ablers to creative ex­pres­sion of all kinds.”

That’s cer­tainly a sen­ti­ment Lin­ley would echo. In­creas­ingly a cham­pion as much as a pur­veyor of crafts, 2016 saw him launch his first sum­mer school, in which eight stu­dents from fur­ni­ture­mak­ing cour­ses around the UK were in­vited to study more rar­efied skills

This is not the only new launch for the 184- year- old com­pany.

with a mas­ter. It is, he hopes, a small con­tri­bu­tion to­wards ar­rest­ing a de­cline in the num­ber of those learn­ing var­i­ous crafts just as con­sumer ap­pre­ci­a­tion for them has turned a cor­ner.

“I love the idea of craft skills be­ing handed down,” says Lin­ley. “Craft used to be a term of de­ri­sion, but that’s changed and peo­ple are so much more craft-aware now. And what they want is the op­por­tu­nity to make things them­selves. It’s some­thing hu­man be­ings crave.” www.davidlin­ley.com ≠

“I love the idea of craft skills be­ing handed down.”

From above: Ben Ho­vanes­sian; Win­sor & New­ton Draw­ing Ink Set. Fac­ing page: David Lin­ley’s Wa­ter­colour Com­pen­dium.

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