Grand Designs magazine: Eco hero feature

Grand Designs feature Aug 2015


A big thanks to Grand Designs for selecting us for this ECO + DESIGN feature! Being a responsible business is very important to us both in terms of our practices and our products. We've won some awards in this area and continue to seek out and work with manufacturers that produce responsibly. The workshop that makes our contemporary Caspian range, featured in this article, is based in Croatia. We’ve worked hard with them to ensure that we have transparent, traceable certification. Our FSC COC number is proof that we can track the piece from forest to showroom to your home. Each piece in our Caspian collection has this FSC certification.


Caspian 6 drawer tall chest


Our Caspian pieces are so beautifully made and show off traditional wood working techniques that sometimes even we are blown away. The most striking feature is the gentle curved front - it's a modern version of a classic Georgian bow fronted chest. Each piece is unique because of the differences in grain - creating varying colour tones and patterns. Then there are the finish options – we make this range in 100% solid FSC certified oak. But you can choose different colours and my favourite finishes are achieved by steaming the timber. This technique colours the wood all the way through, unlike a stain which sits on the surface of the timber. It's a slow ‘cooking’ process that is a bit like caramelizing food.


FSC certified logs air drying


The whole process can take up to 8 months in total. The first stage is up to 6 months drying in open air. Then the wood is placed in a kiln for around 30 days. This kiln drying controls the moisture content of the timber (the computer screen above shows the different moisture contents of 4 separate drying chambers). Then it is put into a steaming room where water vapours steam & colour the wood. The wood changes colour due to a reaction between the naturally present tannins in the oak and the 100°C steam which creates formic acid and results in a rich, darker tone. The wood is then air dried before going back into the drying kilns for up to 21 days. Here's me describing the process in front of the steaming chamber - it's a bit loud with the background noise.



The steamed wood is then used by the woodworkers in production which is where the piece is actually crafted. As you can see there are machines to help with cutting and sanding but the pieces are crafted by hand, not on an assembly line. The wood workers are particularly proud of the curve that is cut (not bent) for the fronts of the caspian pieces. It's a time consuming process but very beautiful. The CNC cutter first shapes a mold piece and the curved planks are then cut by hand with the jigsaw.



The final stage is the hand finishing where the final colour is applied. We use either a clear oil, a white oil or a black oil to achieve different colours on the steamed wood. This takes another 4-5 days, allowing for oiling and drying. But the result is stunning and worth waiting for. There are many standard sizes that we make but we can also make the whole collection in made to measure, bespoke sizes. You choose the style, the colour and the size and have it made specially for your home to suit your style. And with every option you can rest assured it has been made with care.

If you'd l like more information or for press photos please contact us!


Caspian writing desk in steamed and natural oiled oak

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