Conversations in Craftmanship: Davidson
June 28, 2021|Guest Editorials
n our third edition of ‘Conversations in Craftsmanship’, we are delighted to speak with Alexandra Davidson, the Managing Director of luxury furniture brand DAVIDSON. Established in 1986, this family-run company have become renowned as a purveyor of the finest British craftmanship, specialising in contemporary designs in luxurious finishes. Alexandra shares with us the design periods that most inspires her, her favourite pieces from their new collection, and why its important that DAVIDSON furniture continues to be crafted in the UK.
DAVIDSON has celebrated more than 30 years as a business. Can you please tell us about the history of the brand and how it was first established?
DAVIDSON opened its doors in 1986. When we first set out, we wanted to showcase the exceptional skills of those British artisans using centuries-old techniques to create incredible furniture. Company founders Richard and Deirdre Davidson came from a background in the antiques trade. His experience gave him a profound understanding of quality and what distinguishes a piece of furniture as special.
Today, we continue to put the spotlight on home-grown talent as we combine heritage methods with cutting-edge technology and a forward-thinking approach to design. While the company has evolved over time, the essence of who we are and what we stand for remains the same, as we continue to design and manufacture high-end luxurious furniture and champion British craftsmanship.
'Our furniture articulates a vision of low-key luxury.'
How would you describe DAVIDSON’S ‘signature style’?
At DAVIDSON, our mission is to transform homes and create furniture that lasts forever. With our commitment to timeless elegance, we deliver furniture that feels very much ‘of this moment’ and yet also stands outside of time with a beauty that transcends trends, uniting traditional techniques with contemporary design.
Our furniture also articulates a vision of low-key luxury. While our designs feel undeniably sumptuous (take our ‘molten gold’ finishes, for example), they also convey understated sophistication rather than showy or fussy opulence. We understand that our clients want eye-catching pieces that make a statement but they also want to feel ‘at home’ among our designs. Able to survive the stresses and demands of modern-day living, our furniture evokes a vision of luxury that is most definitely ‘liveable.’
How do you marry DAVIDSON’S contemporary aesthetic with traditional techniques of craftsmanship?
At the heart of our furniture philosophy is a celebration of traditional craftsmanship. We make it a priority to showcase centuries-old heritage crafts that might otherwise be lost. At the same time, we have one eye on the design horizon, embracing new methods and tools such as laser marquetry and CNC machinery, as well as novel approaches to aesthetics. We then combine the quality and attention to detail of ancient techniques with highly imaginative re-interpretations of traditional designs.
What is DAVIDSON best known for?
DAVIDSON has established a reputation for its commitment to excellence in everything that we do—particularly in our range of finishes.
We have spent more than twenty years perfecting our lacquering process and our current collection of finishes is extensive and impressive, including striking and original options such as ethereal white gold dust, velvety tobacco vellum, or bronze relief.
Then there’s our Fitted service where we design, manufacture, and install furniture according to the client’s unique vision. This might include bookcases, wood panelling, a custom home bar, or a home office. We work closely with clients to understand their vision, offering a totally bespoke experience. This guarantees furniture that feels as personal as it does prestigious.
Many of DAVIDSON’S designs seem to draw inspiration from the Art Deco period. Are there any other design periods or movements that you find inspiring?
It’s true that, at DAVIDSON, we have a love for the Art Deco period with its sleek elegance, unique geometry, and unusual finishes.
But you will also find a mid-century modern flavour to some of our furniture, such as our Englefield Shelving Unit, whose clean-lined and graceful silhouette has a notable Bauhaus influence.
Then there’s our West Coast collection, in collaboration with designer Anna Standish, which takes inspiration from 1970s California, capturing the glamour, energy, fresh-thinking attitude, and playful spirit of that iconic era.
Our designs also draw on the form and finish of Regency furniture, as evidenced in our preference for particularly dark and heavy timbers and neo-classical accents.
And we don’t just take inspiration from the past. Our Wanderlust Collection, for example, feels wholly contemporary and is inspired by travel and the colours and energy from some of the most exotic destinations around the world.
'We take pride in championing the most talented UK craftsmen, forming productive relationships with skilled specialists who are able to translate our designs into a reality.'
All of your designs are tailormade by expert craftsmen in the UK. Why is it important that DAVIDSON’S pieces are crafted in Britain?
Everything we make at DAVIDSON has been designed and manufactured in Britain. We take pride in championing the most talented UK craftsmen, forming productive relationships with skilled specialists who are able to translate our designs into a reality. This includes a firm of specialist gilders, carvers, woodturners, and metalworkers.
Not only is this emphasis on furniture that is 100% British imperative in maximising the visibility of the impressive talent in our own country, helping to revive and sustain heritage crafts, but it also allows for rigorous quality control. With the entire production process taking place on our own shores, we can ensure that every step meets the necessary standards and can guarantee our clients furniture of the highest quality.
What is your favourite piece by DAVIDSON and why?
My current favourite is our Abstract Collection, which consists of a two door, three door and four door cabinet.
The collection feels fresh and full of energy and the cabinets are also very versatile, able to pull off their magic in a whole range of interiors. They’re sleek and elegant, a demonstration of classic modern minimalism with their unfussy rectangular silhouette, while asymmetrical patterning adds dynamism. The combination of a figured sycamore and brushed brass offers a more contemporary take on your typical black-and-gold duo. I would use these cabinets in my home to display my favourite artworks or maybe as a dining room sideboard.
Working from home became the ‘new normal’ last year. Have you seen increased interest for home offices as a result of this?
We’ve all had to adjust to remote working over the last year and, at DAVIDSON, we have definitely seen a new demand for home offices as a result. People want spaces that are beautiful as they are functional—places conducive to both inspiration and productivity.
We understand people’s need to optimize their homes for work and so we created the Eclipse Home Office Collection, balancing luxury with versatility with a Writing Desk, Fitted Wall Unit, and Fitted Alcove Unit—all customizable to any layout. The collection intends to create a peaceful and motivating working environment—somewhere with all the necessary office practicalities but that also fuels creativity.
'We have always considered our pieces to be the antiques of the future.'
What is your approach to sustainability?
No vision of modern luxury is complete without a commitment to sustainability and, in our eyes, this means furniture that is built to last. That is why we always say to our clients ‘Buy and invest once.’ This has always been an indispensable element in the Davidson philosophy. Rather than off-the-shelf furniture that will quickly appear outdated or lose its appeal, we deliver custom one-off designs whose high quality, peerless craftsmanship, and timeless aesthetic will be a part of your home for the rest of your life. We have always considered our pieces to be the antiques of the future.
Lastly, what are the key trends you are seeing in luxury furniture?
Luxury furniture is constantly evolving and the pandemic has led to an increased demand for certain pieces in particular. We are seeing greater investment in home renovations as people anticipate spending more time at home and less time in the office.
Luxury home offices are becoming more popular while we also have clients looking for home bars and media walls. After all, you need somewhere to play as well as to work!
We work with clients to create spaces that are perfect for entertaining with thoughtfully considered designs that reflect their personal style, and, of course, are guaranteed to receive compliments from guests.
Authenticity and individuality are also increasingly important values for clients, which is why DAVIDSON—with our bespoke service, credentials as trusted design experts, and emphasis on heritage craftsmanship—are a top choice for clients seeking unique and long-lasting furniture solutions.