Handmade British furniture: Owning a piece of handcrafted heritage
It has been almost three years since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. While it feels as though we’ve gained little ground and are no closer to Brexit than we were in June 2016, the government has insisted that they will respect the result of the referendum.
Brexit is, undoubtedly, a pertinent issue. While we don’t wish for our work at Extreme to cross into politics, there is a potential silver lining to Brexit when it comes to British manufacturing. Once we have severed our ties with the EU – no matter how strong or weak that severance is – people will naturally look to support British trade. In fact, this is already starting to have an impact with more clients now interested in where their kitchens are being made.
In this article, the Extreme design team take a look at the benefits of British kitchens and furniture and celebrate the craftsmanship that has put English furniture making on the map.
British furniture design has a long and varied history. Over time, British designers have absorbed influences from across the world and have, in turn, influenced many other schools of design. Truly unique British furniture design began during the Jacobean period of the 17th century. This led to classic Victorian gothic, followed by art deco, right up to the cutting edge designs of the present day, British designers have carved out a number of statement styles over the centuries.
By buying handmade British furniture, you are contributing to the continuation of this design heritage. Globalised trade may have made it easier and cheaper than ever for businesses to source their wares from across the globe. At the same time, this globalisation has made it easier for consumers to buy cheaper goods. In turn, this has meant that many British manufacturers are struggling to stay open. Take the family-run pottery firm Dudson, which was forced to close in 2019 after almost 220 years in business.
When you buy traditional British products for your home, you are not only supporting these heritage manufacturers from a business perspective. In fact, in buying their goods, you are also helping to preserve the traditional skills and styles that have been passed down through generations of craftsmen.
Quality to last a lifetime
Buying quality British kitchens or goods is rarely the cheapest option when it comes to acquiring furniture. That said, they are almost always of higher quality than any mass produced furniture bought from abroad. The tradition, skills and heritage that we discussed above do not just take the form of design flourishes and unique materials.
To combat the cheap, mass-produced furniture made by international manufacturers, British designers often focus more on producing higher quality, higher priced goods that will last a lifetime. We love hearing from our clients that are still enjoying their Extreme kitchen 15 years on. The finishes you choose can also extend the life of your kitchen, for example by opting for a handpainted English kitchen, rather than replace your kitchen as trends change you simply update it by changing the paint colour and updating accessories such as handles.
Unlike some furniture made overseas, British goods are also guaranteed to meet stringent quality regulations. This ensures that furniture is always safe and held to the highest standards.
Handcrafted British kitchens are by their nature, entirely bespoke. Each cabinet, shelf, drawer or door is crafted by hand to suit the design. This makes handcrafted kitchens the perfect option for character homes, unusually shaped rooms or even those clients just looking for something unique and individual.
Alongside this, by choosing British you may also have the rare opportunity to see your furniture being made. For those clients that wish to take the trip, we take them to visit the factory where their kitchen or furniture is being made. Seeing the timber with its natural live edges transform into a beautifully crafted cabinet or drawer is a real experience. The peaceful sound of chipping, sanding and sawing combined with sawdust filled air is a real experience and one that cannot be replicated in a modern factory.
Make a difference
Never before have so many people been aware of their impact on the environment. Consumers are happier than ever to try to make a difference. From recycling to going plastic-free to buying low-emission cars, many are making the effort to reduce their carbon footprint. Despite this, a lot of people who would otherwise like to make a difference often continue to buy mass-produced furniture from abroad.
Buying local is always better for the environment. Many British manufacturers ethically source their materials from within the UK, meaning that your new furniture only has to travel a few hundred miles rather than thousands.
When collaborating with Extreme for your kitchen design project, you know you’re in safe hands. We are proud of our rich heritage since 1993 and work closely with expert furniture makers to create British kitchens that give your home a heritage-rich, sustainable touch of luxury. Visit one of our design studios today to begin discussing your project.