Cornwall's artisan renaissance

Our foundry at Par in mid-Cornwall is one of the last in the country to hand cast iron, brass and nickel custom bed frames in this way.
Cornwall’s Artisan Renaissance Custom Bedframes

Our long held ethos is to create beautiful, bespoke bed frames built to last a lifetime, our small team of skilled artisans honing traditional techniques used by the Victorians. Our foundry at Par in mid-Cornwall is one of the last in the country to hand cast iron, brass and nickel custom bed frames in this way.

We’re in good company in Cornwall, a county steeped in rich cultural traditions and diverse artisanal skills, leading the charge against bland mass production, and offering customers something more personal.

As our lives become increasingly virtual, there’s a growing awareness of provenance and a return to working more with our hands.

As a result, the prevalence of artisan businesses here has grown exponentially, with producers flying the flag for sustainability and creating items which are made to last a lifetime. We’ve picked a few of our favourites:

Otter Surfboards

Marrying twin passions for woodworking and a love of surfing, the hand-crafted wooden surfboards which leave James Otter’s North Cornwall workshop are a far cry from their petrochemical counterparts found bobbing in line-ups these days.

With a background in designing and making award-winning furniture, James has transitioned seamlessly into lovingly crafting hollow, skin and frame wooden surfboards from his clifftop base in Porthtowan.

Every board is custom made by his small team of talented craftsmen using sustainably harvested western red cedar trees grown in the West Country, as well as locally-grown poplar and as much scrap wood as possible. Small offcuts are even planed down into shavings to use in packaging or as kindling for the workshop woodburner.

James also offers week-long courses for fellow enthusiasts keen to create their own boards. 

Tom Raffield

Based in a woodland workshop in the Trevarno Valley in West Cornwall, Tom Raffield designs and hand crafts a range of award-winning contemporary furniture and lighting using the age old method of steam bending. The company famously champions sustainability, offering a natural and timeless style to suit all manner of interiors. 

The collection includes a range of lighting, chairs, sofas and tables,  each handmade and individually finished with the care and attention lavished on a piece of fine art. It’s a tangible rebellion against the omni-present throwaway culture of the 21st Century.

Tom and his wife, Danielle, recently completed their biggest project to date: a spectacular extension on their woodland home.  Covered entirely in lengths of curved beech, larch, sweet chestnut and oak, the transformation of the former gamekeeper’s lodge was documented on Channel Four’s Grand Designs.

Presenter Kevin McCloud said: “This place has the potential to be Tom’s masterpiece, the summation of his life’s work.”

His work was given a unique shop window in London earlier this year: a sculptural installation of more than 70 of his intertwined wooden pendant lights hanging illuminated from trees in Orange Square in the heart of Belgravia as part of the city’s Craft Week.

He also netted four gold stars at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show where he debuted his new steam-bent Gwenver Garden Room, featuring a curated range of handcrafted furniture and lighting.

As well as boasting an impressive domestic order book, Tom Raffield now enjoys a global platform, taking on special commissions for restaurants, hotels and residential projects across the world.

Dreya Glass

Specialising in architectural stained glass and restoration, former international kitesurfer Dreya Bennett  incorporates her passion for the ocean into her work.  Based in Newquay on the north Cornish coast, her mesmerising wave sculptures capture beautifully the power and beauty of the crashing Atlantic surf, creating a timeless, potent visual effect.

Dreya also uses glass to make jewellery, sculptures and wall art, offering in-house designs and undertaking special commissions from across the country.

Skinflint Design

Housed in a Victorian warehouse in Penryn, north west of Falmouth, Skinflint Design reclaims and restores vintage industrial lighting. It was born of a passion for the environment and a love of beautiful objects.

In an age of cheap imports and reproductions, its vintage lights have an integrity of materials, placing minimal burden on dwindling resources and preserving items of industrial heritage which might otherwise be lost. Each light is a vintage original with its own rich history, from abandoned glassworks outside Budapest, shipbreakers’ yards in Gujarat, and Coventry’s former Rolls Royce factory.

Each light is reclaimed and painstakingly hand restored by local experts, before being carefully rebuilt by hand with brand new electrical components. The end result: a light with real character which you can rely on every day.  Demand for their works of art is Europe-wide, Skinflint’s lights gracing bars and restaurants across the UK and on the continent.

Atlantic Blankets

A family-run business based in North Cornwall, Atlantic Blankets was formed when its original owner spotted a gap in the luxury blankets market. 

Inspired by their Cornish surroundings and coastline, current owners Gemma and Alistair Teague, have searched the countries of the Atlantic seaboard and beyond to create a mix of fabulous woven treats.

The couple’s background in interior design and passion for beachside living is evident from their range which blends nautical contemporary design and colour, with traditional weaving methods and natural fabrics.

Each blanket and throw comes with its very own shell, handpicked from a Cornish beach, a token to remind customers of the brand’s roots.

Photography by Matt Arney, Grand Designs, Lee Searle, and Kirstin Prisk.