I am thrilled to be introducing you to the first in a series of interviews with the very best local makers for homes and interiors. Ever since I spied one of Furniture Magpies‘ ‘lovely legs’ stools (made with a variety of beautiful old table legs) I’ve been itching to have one in my home.
Skilled craftsmanship, contemporary design and saving the planet one chest of drawers at at time…
Who are you?
We are Sua Lee and Nessa Doran O’Reilly and we make up the upcycled design-and-make company Furniture Magpies.
What do you do?
We rescue unwanted, damaged and broken furniture that is usually bound for landfill. We then deconstruct it, designing new pieces from our library of parts. We do this using a mix of knowledge and appreciation for the original piece and the workmanship already invested in it, along with a hint of humour to give our work personality and new life so it can be loved all over again.
Where is home?
We are based in High Wycombe, an industrial town in the Chilterns rich in furniture history. Being surrounded by this great knowledge and history – as well as providing an amazing resource for discarded quality furniture – makes it our perfect home!
What is your favourite colour?
We love lime green and bright orange – these two colours always complement our timber.
How did Furniture Magpies start?
We meet while studying for our masters in furniture design at BNU in High Wycombe. During our studies we had struggled with justifying bringing new products onto an already saturated market while beautifully crafted pieces where being discarded. Setting up our own business to explore this seemed the logical next step.
What makes good design?
We believe good design requires not only quality materials and craftsmanship but a considered design aesthetic. We want our pieces to encourage a personal relationship with their owner.
Who or what inspires you?
Watching beautifully constructed pieces made from top quality timbers going to landfill is a great motivator to design new pieces.
What’s your favourite item of furniture?
We love coming across a chest of drawers with a damaged carcass; there is so much you can do with a set of drawers!
What are you most excited about doing this year?
We have just finished teaching a short course at West Dean College in upcycled furniture which was fantastic and we are really looking forward to doing another. Also, we have already started work for Tent at this year’s London Design festival in September; we cant wait!