Commissioning bespoke furniture can be a rewarding experience, provided you have an awareness of what to expect, as Chris Denman-Tanner of bespokeFFE LTD explains.

Good communication skills are key to success in life, work and relationships. Without effective communication, information imparted can easily turn into misunderstanding, frustration, even bitter disappointment. The scenario is no different when working with a designer to create the furniture of your dreams. The key is communicating who you are, what you like and what you need and want your chosen piece to do.
So, before you start looking to commission your craftsman, prepare yourself with all the information they will need to create something which is specifically tailored to you and your home.

A great starting point is Pinterest - a really valuable online tool. Gather together a selection of images which capture atmosphere, colour, material choices, and the lifestyle ambiance that you aspire to. Create a mood board and sift for ideas through magazines and books. You may, for example, stumble across an image of a stylish office but what actually attracts you, is the surface finish on the office wall. Perhaps a model advertising the latest Autumn-Winter Knitwear collection catches your eye, sat in a ‘must have ‘sofa with beautiful pleated armrests. In essence - anything that you are drawn to and that you like, is a valid marker that will help influence the creative direction of the project.

Beyond the framework of style - design is also about delivering solutions to a set of problems. In the case of crafting a piece of furniture - it’s essential to define what the furniture needs to achieve. Would you, for example, like your item to be ready by a certain date because your extension will be compete and your commissioned piece is an essential part of that room?

Once armed with this type of information and your chosen imagery – an intuitive designer will be able to guide you with
questions as the design develops, offering creative proposals influenced by your direction.

Your Bespoke Commission
• Invite your chosen designer to your home
• The designer’s expertise is essential but you should never feel that their aspirations are being projected onto your project
• Expect to pay a deposit, part payment and balance on completion. This gives the designer a period of paid creativity and builds the ongoing relationship
• Request sketches, materials samples and drawings to show how the furniture will sit in the room.
• Request a timeline, how long will each stage take?
• Ask for progress photos, acclimatise yourself to the story behind your furniture
• Ask questions - makers are proud of what they do and will offer information to highlight the craftsmanship.
• Find out how your home needs to be prepared on the day of delivery
• Communicate regularly and above all, enjoy the process

Chris Denman-Tanner runs bespokeFFE LTD a design and procurement service specialising in bespoke furniture, cabinetry, lighting and soft furnishings.

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