Catch him while you can. Tomorrow, Sunday 23rd, is the last day of Sebastian Cox’s Woodland Workshop pop-up in Heal’s Tottenham Court Road store. Sebastian is an award-winning designer and maker, with a strong ethos of sustainability. As you might remember from earlier posts, he is famed for his work with coppiced hazel, an ancient method of woodland management.
For the last couple of weekend’s Sebastian and his team (today, George) have been very much front of house for Heal’s ‘Made for you‘ series, hand crafting drawers in the store window.
The stack of drawers are for their latest Heal’s piece, a five drawer ‘Tall-boy’ in celebration of British grown hardwoods. Each drawer is individually crafted using one of ten timbers, showing their distinctive grain, and colour, to subtle and stunning effect. The timbers have all been sustainably sourced. In fact, they can even tell you when the wood was milled and grown. The Tall-boy pictured right is in oak, walnut, sycamore, London plane, and elm. We were particularly struck by the flecking and wavy grain of the elm. The undulating grain is what gives elm its characteristic strength.
Other timbers available are ash, brown oak, chestnut, hazel and birch. The ‘brown oak’ is not a different species, but oak that has been infected with fungus, leaving it a rich tea colour. The choice of timber and tonal scale is yours. If you are undecided, you could order a pair and then mix and match the drawers to your heart’s content. The Tall-boy retails at Heal’s for around £2,000, depending on your choice of timber. Remember a thing of beauty is a joy forever!
Seeing Sebastian and George deftly making use of the range of hand tools was fascinating, for us, and our young daughters. They were enchanted by this real-life Mister Maker, and thoroughly charmed when Sebastian used his hand plane to give them a couple of shavings that spiralled in their palms. They watched, coyly, as George meticulously prepared a dovetail joint. It was a moment for us all to appreciate the skill of hand crafting furniture, to connect the elegant piece with its humble beginnings and reflect on the beauty of Britain’s natural resources.