The Woodland Chest of Drawers is a unique chest of drawers that was shown in my first St. Ives exhibition in September 2009. It shows again how rhododendron wood can be used to create bespoke and versatile furniture.
As a main feature I used discarded rhododendron branches as well as reclaimed floorboards. The top was painted and covered in a 10mm thick surfboard resin which was polished and waxed. This coating with transparent effect allows the natural wooden structure to show and at the same time results in a smooth, extremely durable and easy to look after surface.
The drawers have been made from reclaimed building materials such as plywood and cladding panels with the fronts being scribed to blend in with the natural curve and shape of the rhododendron branches. I chose a white base for this unique chest of drawers and used different layers of colours on the drawer fronts for a more natural effect. This was highlighted by beach pebbles transformed into drawer knobs.
The Woodland Chest of Drawers certainly stood out as a centre piece in my exhibition and is now owned by a private collector.
If you have ever had the chance to hike along the coastal paths in Cornwall you will have come across the typical wild landscape, part of which are gorse plants. Especially in spring they take over with their bright yellow flowers and distinct coconut scent. As they grow in abundance they need to be cleared and cut back regularly and I was lucky enough to be given some beautifully twisted branches by a good friend.
I knew immediately that this would make a great floor lamp design so I started to debark and sand the branch and then hollowed out a channel for the cables. As gorse is a very hard and withstanding wood it took me as well as two of my apprentices almost four years to complete this task – of course working on it on and off. This is what I call a real labour of love!
Once the branch was set in its concrete base I painted it and finished it off with a wax polish to give it the shiny look I had in mind. As the lamp is part of a seaside themed penthouse apartment my focus was to find pendant shades in a very pale blue that would match the view on the sea and also create a nice contrast with the dark gorse branch. I was lucky enough to come across these beautiful pendant shades made from cracked blue glass which pieces were reset in a clear glass bowl.
This kind of design for a decorative floor lamp fits very well into dining areas, lounges or bedrooms and give any room a very vivid and animated twist. Due to the flexibility of working with pendants of different colours and differently twisted branches it is a real bespoke piece and eye catcher.
Living by the sea has always been a source of endless inspiration for me.
When I was asked to do the interior renovation of a Victorian terrace house overlooking St. Ives with its beautiful beaches and typical Cornish flair I immediately had plenty of ideas for designs.
As the house-owners were artists themselves we quickly came to an understanding that each room should have special centre pieces and eye-catchers.
For the bathroom with its steam/shower cabin I decided to adopt a shape that is so very typical for every English sea side town – boats! The upright boat shape is a perfect structural and decorative design for bespoke units in an alcove that combine design and usefulness.
I started by building the boat shells and after having them positioned upright in their required position I built the wall around it. The effect I achieved is quite amazing – a boat sticking out of the wall. Having to think about storage space the units got a cabinet on the lower side with the basin on the top of one of them. Both pieces are fitted with mirrors and glass shelves on the upper side and are water and moist resistant.
The overall achievement of this renovated bathroom is a calming and relaxing atmosphere to enjoy spending time in and having extended steam showers! A little spa haven – a little bit of day-by-day luxury…
One subject very close to my heart is that Tomas & Jani embrace and implement the corporate and personal ethos of working with sustainable, reclaimed and eco-friendly materials and recyclables.
Over the years I have been experimenting a lot with the cut offs of sheeted materials such as plywood or glued up solid wood. By adding on different coloured and patterned art papers or paint and arranging them into a composition or structure I was surprised to see the amazing results and developed my first bespoke wood installation.
‘Escape’ is a 360 x 110cm panel of decorative art commissioned by a private collector, situated in a dining area alongside the dining table. Once installed it instantly brightened up the room and reflected the colour and depth into the room.
For this particular artwork I used a mixed media in the sense of differently textured pieces of wood cut into jigsaw-shaped structures. Each piece is painted differently and to add on texture I used additional layers of fabrics or paper decoupage.
Seeing how a bespoke wood installation can instantly transform a room through vivid colours and shapes and brighten up the atmosphere in a very playful way I decided to add this alternative art to my portfolio. As a bespoke piece of art it can be designed to fit any room such as living rooms, bedrooms, nurseries, kitchens, dining areas and different colour schemes and sizes can be chosen to make a real impact!
Having lived in Cornwall for quite a while now I not only enjoy the superb summers but also the winter months when everything slows down and the weather turns rough. It is a very special sight when the gales hit the county, the storm lashed Atlantic rolls in with its big spray-topped waves and I can sit on my window seat with a hot cup of tea and enjoy the scene.
Lucky me, I am being called out afterwards to collect trees and branches that were brought down by the force of the storms hence widening my supply of different types of woods to work with.
On this occasion I came across a cedar tree which I cut up and used to create these unique and versatile side tables. The design is very simple, yet effective with its top part being sanded and varnished and the edges being decoupaged with hand-made paper. To break up the wooden theme I used 40 x 40mm boxed metal with wood inserted feet for the legs.
As the diameter of the side tables is an approximate 40cm this bespoke and decorative piece of furniture can be also used as a seat or flower stand instead of my original idea of having it as a bedside or simple side table.
On request I can use different colours or patterned hand-made papers as decoupage so that this piece will blend in with your remaining range of furniture and would find its place in bedrooms, hallways, living rooms or kitchens.
After last week’s blog about my bespoke nursery furniture here comes part two about the Domani range.
To complement the cot bed I also designed a matching bespoke baby changing station that is equally unique and can be tailored to client’s specifications with regards to colours, patterns and decoration.
The top is covered with a padded, easy to clean surface which will be comfortable for the little one to lie on when being changed and can be wiped down afterwards. So not to compromise the surface space by having the necessary accessories, such as nappies, creams, powders and wet wipes on top of the changing station there are three drawers available that serve as storage and most importantly they are easy to reach.
I created the Domani cotbed to be a versatile piece of furniture to grow with your child and transform from early stages cot to toddler bed and then at a later stage to a sofa / day bed. Equally the Domani changing station has been designed to exceed the early days and once it is not required as a changing station it will simply transform into a beautiful console table by turning the top board upside down. Instead of the padded surface it then displays a varnished wooden surface that matches the remaining design of the console table.
When designing my daughters nursery set I chose a neutral design using off-white colours, a pattern of pastel coloured roses and very few additional decorations. The reason behind it was that we will transform the toddler bed into a sofa and the baby changing station into a console table and the more conservative look will allow both pieces to blend into other environments and maybe find their place in our bedroom, living room or hallway.
Let necessity items become truly precious heirlooms!
When talking about big adventures in life my highlight so far has certainly been becoming a father. Holding your newborn child for the first time is the most special and overwhelming feeling.
I remember very well the months of anticipation before I finally met my daughter and the urge to be prepared, have everything in place for her and design the nursery to create a warm and loving atmosphere. Obviously my child was going to have bespoke nursery furniture because that is what I do, so the centrepiece for me to design and build was the Domani Cotbed which quickly became the signature nursery furniture piece in my range:
The Domani serves as a cot for the early stages and then simply transforms into a toddler bed and then into a sofa/day bed. Along with the spacious drawers the Domani is a beautiful design, a practical furniture piece and something that will accompany your child for a long time. I am proud that both my daughter and other babies out there are enjoying this piece of furniture that is close to my heart.
On request this bespoke cotbed can be tailored to complement the surrounding nursery furniture and colours and decorations can be chosen from a wide range of hues and patterns. Why not decorate it with your baby’s initials or some favourite characters such as Winnie the Pooh or Thomas the Tank Engine? Decorative inlays like beads, pebbles, shells could be added to make it even more special.
Along with the handmade cotbed I also offer the matching changing station which I will talk about in next week’s blog because now I will lock my workshop, go home and enjoy some play time with my daughter before she goes to sleep in her beautiful Domani cot…
If you have been to St. Ives you will know Downalong – the heart of St. Ives and former fisherman’s quarters. Tucked away in one of the cobbled lanes is “Cornerways” which was built in the 1830’s and has served as a guest house for more than 70 years accommodating guests as illustrious as Daphne Du Maurier.
The heart and soul of Cornerways Guesthouse is its owners Tim and Shelley who have renovated the property and successfully transformed it into a welcoming and warm B&B. Over the years I have very much enjoyed working with Tim and Shelley designing unique furniture for their guestrooms but also their private quarters. The aim was to create pieces that are practical and space-saving but also have a unique and playful touch and I am proud to say that Cornerways is fitted with a range of Tomas & Jani Bespoke Furniture bedside tables, lamps, chests of drawers, mirrors, console tables and wardrobes.
The latest additions are several bespoke refrigerator cabinets which I have designed to go with the existing pieces of furniture in the guestrooms
To learn more about Cornerways Guesthouse St. Ives and see some more pictures of this great little gem in the centre of artistic and bubbly St. Ives Cornwall, please have a look at www.cornerwaysstives.com
I would also like to thank Tim and Shelley for their trust in me and my sometimes daring designs and for the great friendship we have established over the years!
Making a home is of course about finding the right furniture that will meet your taste and fit the space of your house. But isn`t it also about all those small decorative items that will create a warm and cosy atmosphere?
When designing furniture for a client I automatically start thinking about the home accessories that might go with it. Recently I got an enquiry to create a holiday let instruction manual cover to match my furniture in a seaside themed penthouse in Cornwall.
This particular piece is made of FCS sustainable birch skinny ply bound with fabrics and braids. The marquetry is made from a beautiful combination of rosewood, wenge, lacewood and maple veneers finished with a French polish. So if you like my idea why not be a bit more creative about bespoke home accessories?
As it goes with custom items, this folder can come in any size, colour and design and could be used as a photo album cover, IPad case, guestbook, diary or favourite recipe collection?
I will be back soon with more ideas!
I don’t know about you but I simply love Rhododendrons. Having lived in Cornwall for so many years I love the sight of those huge bushes, their shapes and big colourful blooms. Walking through the Cornish countryside I encounter many Rhododendron valleys, forests and thickets and find that each year they are being trimmed and pruned. Thick branches of all sizes and shapes can be collected like driftwood and this is just paradise for furniture designers like me.
One bespoke lamp I made is my Twin Rhododendron Lamp which has received rave reviews.
Apart from the handcrafted lamp shades that come in various colours and patterns the rhododendron branches are very unique and outstanding in their shape. This is not only a fit-for-purpose and off-the-shelf home accessory but a piece that will add a very vivid and animated look to your room.
Using lamp shades that match any colours of your existing decor this piece will add some special spirit to your living room, dining area or bedroom.
More pieces of Rhododendron based bespoke furniture will follow soon because I simply love using it.