Thursday, 01 June 2017 00:00

Come dine with us – Inex talks to Furniture Designer, Michael Northcroft

    Here Furniture Designer, Michael Northcroft, talks Inex through the company’s most recent dining room project in London’s affluent Mayfair area and looks at current dining trends within the UK.

    We had a dining room when I was a child, but we ate in the kitchen. My sisters sat on a bench built into the window recess, but couldn’t lean back without going through the glass to the yard one floor below. We didn’t find that strange, we just never leant back!

    Dining rooms may seem like an anachronism from a former time. If that is so, I prefer that past where a revered space filled with natural quietness is dedicated to talking, speech, conversation and, of course, food too.

    Practically beautiful

    The L & C Company was commissioned to create a high-end luxury interior. Interior Designer, Michelle Dainty, who is a well-known experienced designer says the client wanted a beautiful space in one of Mayfair’s most exclusive streets. “We wanted to create a real focal point for the table as this was the feature piece in the room – Michael Northcroft achieved this by recessing a brass metal detail in the form of a diagonal cross in the tabletop. The customer needed a practical finish so Michael’s ‘Grey Oak’ finish was selected which worked beautifully.”

    Michael Northcroft accented the table with two sideboards from the Argento collection. Trims and handles are in brass too, however, the finish selected for the sideboards is ‘Dapple Grey’. This finish is bird’s eye maple, grown in California. It is sent to Italy where it is bleached and dyed into a beautiful silver-grey colour.

    Here at Michael Northcroft, we apply the veneers and lacquer them with four coats of high-gloss lacquer, and then burnish the finish to a full, glorious lacquered finish.

    The sideboards, with their high-gloss finish, reflect light from the two windows giving life and movement to the room. The finish is unique; it has depth and movement from all the subtlety of the living tree.

    The captain’s cabin in the Cutty Sark is made using bird’s eye maple. It’s one of the reasons I have sought such timber. It can only really be used as a veneer. The bird’s eye that I source is the best that has ever been grown. I feel humble that the depth, movement and patterning is a higher quality than the builders of ‘Cutty’ could find when they built her.

    It’s hardly traditional in our past in the UK to have a hard marble flooring in a dining room. Yet using such materials sourced from the stone quarries of the world is not so different from using bird’s eye maple.

    Visually stimulating dining rooms

    The great homes of the past sourced marble for flooring as well as exotic timbers for the furniture, so we are not breaking new ground in the concept – it’s in the interpretation. As our climate warms, more cool hard flooring will come into our lives. A central rug of neutral colour calms and softens noise and makes us feel at home. Having two well-sized windows on adjoining walls is a treat – giving good internal light and reflection in the daytime and summer evenings.

    Dining rooms need to be visually stimulating yet calming too. That’s not an oxymoron; it’s quite possible and is the visual goal in my view. Michelle chose Michael Northcroft’s Grey Oak and Grey Dapple finishes with solid polished brass detailing to create a calm place yet with light movement too.

    The handles are ‘organ pipes from a church’ visually to me. Verticals of varying height. They complement the trims on the dining table – they ‘talk’ to each other.

    We live in a world where we no longer write letters. The black ink of my childhood school days is remembered only in the ink stains on the ancient dining table in my own dining room. The space of time has vanished for so many of us. I have sat in a large dining room in Prague were Franz Kafka used to sit drinking coffee and eating (in that order), talking of ideas, politics and art with his friends. It’s what we do if we can find the space and time that existed before the Second World War.

    That past feeds the present in such a hallowed street of this house. It is a calmness that we need away from the chatter and clatter of our modern existences. If you are lucky enough to have a dining room in your home – then use it!

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