We like to, occasionally, make believe that we are proper grownups. These days the millennial generation don’t tend to tie themselves down to fixed abodes or the trappings that come with them. This week, however, we have had our heads turned by a very beautiful and very British statement armchair.
RhubarbLondon is the name to remember when looking for fine, eclectic furniture and are set to introduce its latest unique design, The Windsor Castle Armchair to the world. Fashioned in signature RhubarbLondon style, this piece is not only a functional furniture design but also a piece of historical artwork, guaranteed to be a conversation starter amongst guests and friends.
Sourced from completely original archives, RhubarbLondon’s founder and head creative Shaun Brownell scours the world for original uniforms, vintage fabrics and historical artefacts to create his one-off chair designs. The Windsor Castle Chair is the perfect example of Shaun’s meticulous eye for detail and passion for the restoration and re-imagination of antique pieces. Starting life as a Victorian scroll back armchair, the chair’s original mahogany frame has been restored and wrapped in a Vintage Irish Guard Scarlet Tunic, expertly cut and tailored to fit the individual parts of the chair. The striking royal red and navy blue fabric is complemented by contrast piping detail to the seat and backrest, all resting atop of the chair’s original turned wooden legs, tipped with solid brass castors and finished in a polished black lacquer. Beautiful detailing is seen in the authentic buttons, solid brass buckle and regalia, with the crowning glory of the longhaired black Icelandic sheepskin detail, hand-stitched onto the sides for a characterful and playful touch.
As with all of RhubarbLondon’s designs, the devil’s in the detail. In a respectful ode to the historical ancestry of the uniform, The Windsor Castle Armchair sports an original gold bullion badge, taking pride of place on the chair’s backrest; a truly fitting tribute to a unique piece of military history.
Clic Digital got the chance to see the brains behind the British brand with Founder and Designer, Shaun Brownell.
Can you share with us your creative journey to where you are now?
Back in 2014 my mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness so I decided to step out of the rat race and dedicate my time to caring for her. To assist with her care I had the help of a local hospice and discovered that when they are bequeathed vintage furniture from families they had to pay someone to destroy it as not fire compliant. So I decided to make a donation to the charity for each piece of furniture I took and I created these unique pieces of furniture from there. Why have grandpa's old military uniform of which he was so proud hanging in the wardrobe, hidden away gathering dust when it can grace a piece of furniture.
What has been the inspiration behind Rhubarb London and your bespoke designs?
We live in such a throw away society, nobody has the time to stop and think outside the box and realise what they can re-create or reinvent with such little ease.
How would you define your style and how has it evolved over the years?
RhubarbLondon's furniture style is unique, eclectic and quirky. We always try to retain traditional upholstery skills consistently with the production of every piece.
Do you have a favourite collection or design?
Personally I love the Dapper Tweed as it involved so many traditional craftsmen and evolved into this beautiful and unique piece of furniture.
What is a typical workday like for you?
No two days are the same for me, every day is another interesting and fascinating journey and love every minute of it, from sourcing vintage fabric to designing new pieces, I never tire of it.
Can you describe the design process?
Normally I have the vision of the finished piece in my head so I then go about how to create the piece using the best form. It is very important that the chair suits the fabric. As a general rule, the more masculine chair suits our Vintage Military Uniform style. The finished piece must be surreal and chair has to have presence and form.
What are you working on at the moment?
Wow what a question! I am working on several pieces at the moment, not to give too much away at this stage but my latest piece is going to be a Vintage American Ceremonial Uniform chair. It is very elaborate and covered in regalia, it will be quite a piece when finished. I am also working on several other projects: Houses of Parliament Speakers chair, and a very special child’s chair which you will have to wait to see.
What according to you is the next big thing in furniture design?
Upcycled furniture is and always will be the next thing as people are at last realising that our valuable natural resources are and will run out during their lifetime so now is the time to make a difference and besides most of our old family furniture has many years of fond memories attached to it.
What advice can you give those seeking a career in furniture design?
The most important advice I would give is to try and keep your own style, never copy and always try and think outside the box, bring your own personality out on the piece you are working on and it will just materialise in front of you.
What 3 words describe your brand?
Traditional, eclectic, individual and quirky to name but a few.
Can you share 3 things people don’t know about you?
Other than being a bit crazy I'm just a normal guy but if I had to confess I'm hopeless at cooking cannot draw, and cannot abide inconsiderate drivers!
Which is your favourite room in your home and why?
At the moment I am sitting in my favourite room. A garden office writing this and watching the wind and rain, in complete silence with my dog. Sheer bliss!
Where do you see Rhubarb London in five years time?
As you know we have numerous bespoke commissioned pieces all around the world but I would like to see more in the Far East so maybe, who knows, watch this space!
What's your favourite inspirational quote?
Say yes before the question and then worry about the answer afterwards.