Best of British
A design trio’s furniture evokes Newcastle’s industrial heritage
Novocastrian (or ‘native of Newcastle’) is a ftting name for a frm that draws heavily on its Northern heritage by using local materials and skills. Established in August of last year by the childhood friends Richy Almond and Mark McCormick, the company specialises in industrial-style furniture made from blackened steel, Cumbrian slate and brass.
Almond’s family has a long history of working with metal – his father and grandfather were both shipbuilders – and Novocastrian was inspired by this proud tradition. His father now runs a metal-fabrication business, which manufactures all Novocastrian’s products. ‘I grew up in and around a factory and making metal things,’ Almond says. ‘After I moved to London and became an architect, I still had a really strong connection to the family business, but I didn’t see what I could add to it until I started experimenting with furniture design.’
Neither Almond nor McCormick, a graphic designer, originally trained in product design, but they do not see this as a disadvantage. ‘We both have slightly diferent takes on it, and I think a bit more spatially than a typical furniture designer about how a piece relates to the whole interior,’ Almond says. ‘We feel that the mix of diferent disciplines – design, architecture and metalwork – makes something interesting.’
This experimentation has resulted in pieces such as the
‘The mix of diferent disciplines – design, architecture and metalwork – makes something interesting’
Staiths shelving unit, inspired by the structure of the same name that juts out on to the River Tyne. This vast timber lattice framework, much damaged by fre in 2003, was once used to load coal from trains on to ships. ‘We created a steel latticework,’ Almond says, ‘then we started stripping away elements to represent the fre and destruction that has cut away parts of it.’
Almond and McCormick set up the business to provide bespoke solutions for interior designers and architects, and each piece is made to order, allowing customers to modify sizes and fnishes. While their client base is mainly in London, Almond’s younger brother Dean does all the welding and fnishing in Newcastle. ‘It’s been a process of trial and error, but it’s been interesting working with the guys in the factory who are trained in metalwork, versus me trained in architecture, and seeing them interpreting our designs,’ Almond says. ‘You get these really refned details, but with a slightly industrial edge.’
Mark McCormick, Dean Almond andRichy Almond at Novocastrian’s Newcastle studio.