DESIGNS FOR LIFE Furniture for a new age Furniture maker Nick Hartley describes his work as ‘sequinned ballroom glamour in a derelict mill’ Heather Dixon Dave Burton WORDS: PHOTOS: N T here is a saying that ‘every picture tells a story’ but for cabinet maker Nick Hartley it is furniture that speaks the loudest. Through his unusual and imaginative creations, he is emerging as one to watch: a designer whose one-off pieces reflect his passion for all things mid-century, punk and rock ‘n’ roll. Inspired by the clean, vivid colours, modernist lines and geometric forms of post-war Americana, his furniture is distinctive for being different - a combination of classic throwback and futuristic ideas. From his happily cluttered basement workshop in Holywell Green, near Halifax, Nick develops his striking tables, cabinets, lamps and drawers which are made from a range of recycled woods and modern materials. He often works well into the small hours, sometimes round the clock, to complete pieces which are so absorbing he can’t bear to walk away from them until they are done. Nick’s route to furnituremaking was via the kitchens of various restaurants where he worked his way up to become head chef and committed ‘crazylong’ hours to earning a living. He was born in the East End of London in the 70s before moving back to his father’s native Yorkshire when he was seven. ‘My dad was an engineer and most of the family had creative elements, but nothing to do with woodwork,’ says Nick. ‘I’ve always liked tinkering and messing about with stuff, taking things apart and putting them back together again. I decided to take a carpentry course and took a job as a pot washer to pay for it.’ Unfortunately the course didn’t work out and Nick focussed instead on becoming a full time chef, something he was extremely good at and enjoyed. ‘Nick’s route to furnituremaking was via restaurants where he worked his way up to head chef’ ‘When I am completely focused on a new piece the rest of the world fades away,’ he says. ‘It’s all consuming.’ For the time being his sales are largely through word of mouth and a handful of supportive West Yorkshire galleries, but it is unlikely to take long before the county’s interior designers and bespoke furniture outlets sit up and take notice. LEFT: There is painstaking work in individual pieces like this design named Ligurian RIGHT: Nick in his basement studio where he will often work round the clock Yorkshire Life: October 2020 139
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