Si­mon Burvill

Fur­ni­ture maker

Country Life Every Week - - Interiors -

It was dur­ing a ski­ing hol­i­day in the early 1990s that Si­mon Burvill de­cided a ca­reer change was re­quired. Hav­ing al­ways har­boured an in­ter­est in wood­work­ing, he turned his back on his job in en­gi­neer­ing and ap­plied for an in­ten­sive one-year fur­ni­ture and forestry course at Hooke Park in Dorset, a col­lege founded by John Make­peace.

While learn­ing ev­ery­thing from wood­land man­age­ment through to prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, he stud­ied un­der Chris­tian Graze and, to­gether, they found a shared in­ter­est in cre­at­ing out­door fur­ni­ture that would not only use en­vi­ron­men­tally sound tim­ber, but also, in its de­sign, marry both func­tion and form.

‘One of the things we did when we launched our first piece—the court seat—in 1993 was to use steam bend­ing to get solid wood curves; in those days, and even to­day, most man­u­fac­tur­ers use glue,’ ex­plains Si­mon. ‘We also use oak be­cause it’s durable, en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able and you can bend it, which isn’t an op­tion with a lot of trop­i­cal wood. that’s how we get de­tails such as flared curves on cor­ners and achieve a clean, lin­ear de­sign.’

Al­most all the com­pany’s raw oak is sourced in a sawmill near the Pyre­nees, an area that has long pro­vided bar­rels for nearby wine re­gions, which is then shipped to the com­pany’s work­shop near Al­ton in Hampshire, where pieces are con­structed us­ing both tra­di­tional tech­niques and the lat­est tech­nol­ogy. Si­mon is fas­tid­i­ous about the qual­ity: ‘When the wood ar­rives in the form of planks, we al­ways take the cen­tre plank, which is the best and most sta­ble—some­thing like the fil­let steak of an oak tree.’

‘We use oak be­cause it’s durable, sus­tain­able and you can bend it’

In more than 25 years in busi­ness, Si­mon has watched the evo­lu­tion of the role of the gar­den. ‘When we first started, peo­ple used to view their gar­dens as sep­a­rate places, but, in the past 20 years, they’ve be­come in­te­grated with the house.’ to re­flect this, the com­pany launched a new col­lec­tion at Chelsea called Levity. De­signed by Katie Walker, and com­bin­ing both dove­tail joints and ma­chine twists, the pieces are lighter in weight and can be used both out­doors and in­doors on rooftops and on ter­races. Ara­bella Youens (01420 588444; www.gaze­burvill.com)

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