Friday, 4 April 2014
found: willow and hall
If you've been reading for a while, you'll know that I'm always keen to champion family businesses, indie designers and anything made here in the good old UK - which is why when I was contacted by the lovely people at Willow and Hall, I was keen to find out more about them.
Set up by ex-City worker Sarah Massouh, Willow and Hall offer a wide range of handmade sofas, chairs and sofa beds, all produced in the beautifully rural West Country location of Wiltshire. As well as employing local, skilled craftsmen, everything is made to order - from the handmade wooden frames to the beautiful finishings, nothing is left sitting around in a factory to gather dust. I was lucky enough to grab some time with founder Sarah to get a behind-the-scenes look at Willow and Hall, and to hear more about her inspirations and design processes.
How did you come to set up Willow and Hall?
Two key reasons really; firstly, I had a string desire to provide customers with the ability to purchase great quality British furniture at more affordable prices. There seemed to be a handful of companies which offered good quality British furniture, but for £1,500 upwards for a sofa or sofa bed - and with hefty delivery costs and long lead times. It seemed that customers were having to over-subsidise a company's business costs, such as their shops and multiple showroom rates, and I wanted to fix this for them. Secondly, I wanted to take the business skills I had built up, and apply them to something I love - furniture and interiors. I also wanted the opportunity to use my creative side as well as my business skills, and working with interiors really enables this.
What sort of things do you think about during the design process?
It's absolutely about designing furniture which looks beautiful and stylish, whilst also being really high quality and comfortable. This is the starting point, and once we've achieved this we work hard to make sure all the smaller details are just right for that particular model - from the shape of the feet to the piping and zips. All of the 'ingredients' need to be of the highest quality, and used in the correct way by our wonderful craftsmen.
Do you have a favourite design?
I can't really pick a favourite, but I do really like our new corner sofas and sofa beds - they offer fantastic comfort for families and have a slightly more relaxed look than some of our traditional two and three-seater models, which is how I think it should be with corner-units.
How important is environmental impact and sustainability to you?
Very important. We try our best to be eco-friendly where possible, and offer a recycling service at the point of delivery in case any of our customers want to say goodbye to their old furniture in an environmentally friendly way.
What is your favourite interiors style?
I really love stylish, elegant and timeless pieces combined with fun smaller things to add a touch of playfulness. My style is really translated into our products and photo shoots - Willow and Hall is an extension of the type of interior design I love, and more importantly, that our customers love. We're considering opening a Willow and Hall interior design arm in three years time, so that customers who like the style can have their homes designed in this way from top to bottom if they wish.
Which is your favourite room in your house, and why?
This is a tough one. I'm going to have to say our hallway and snug room, as I can't pick one over the other. Our hallway because it has lovely high ceilings and coving with a beautiful original oak staircase - every time I walk through the door, it makes me smile. I love the character, the airy feel and the feeling of arriving home after a busy day at our offices.
Our snug room because it is super cosy, and is the place all the family can relax in, chat and snuggle together on our lovely sofas (Willow and Hall, of course!).
If you could sum up Willow and Hall in three words, which three would you use?
Quality, style, British!
Huge thanks to Sarah for taking the time to answer my nosy questions. All images the property of Willow and Hall.
This post was written in conjunction with Willow and Hall.