Monday 16 January 2017

RhubarbLondon - Distinctive Designs for Bespoke Interiors

Last year I came across RhubarbLondon, a British brand creating unique and eclectic furniture that are statement designs. These custom made armchairs have huge commanding presence and vintage narratives sewn into the upholstery of archived and original furniture pieces. They are not just furniture but each a work of art and labour of love.

The creative genius behind the brand is it's founder, Shaun Brownell. Originally an aeronautical engineer, he now designs, restores and recreates rare antique furniture with distinctive upholstery, sourced from completely authentic archives. Each piece of furniture is dressed in a dapper country jacket or an original vintage military uniform and has its own unique history.

I am a believer of redesigning and recycling, however Shaun takes his creativity to a whole new level! I caught up with Shaun to find out the story behind RhubarbLondon, his inspirations behind his eclectic designs and his future plans. What I found is a unique heartwarming sentiment, a quirky style and bold and bespoke designs!
Can you share with us your creative journey to where you are now?

Back in 2014 my mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness so I decided to step out of the rat race and dedicate my time to caring for her. To assist with her care I had the help of a local hospice and discovered that when they are bequeathed vintage furniture from families they had to pay someone to destroy it as they were not fire compliant. So I decided to make a donation to the charity for each piece of furniture I took and I created these unique pieces of furniture from there. Why have grandpa's old military uniform of which he was so proud hanging in the wardrobe, hidden away gathering dust when it can grace a piece of furniture.
What has been the inspiration behind Rhubarb London and your bespoke designs?

We live in such a throw away society, nobody has the time to stop and think outside the box and realise what they can re-create or reinvent with such little ease. 

How would you define your style and how has it evolved over the years?

RhubarbLondon's furniture style is unique, eclectic and quirky. We always try to retain traditional upholstery skills consistently with the production of every piece.

Do you have a favourite collection or design?

Personally I love the Dapper Tweed as it involved so many traditional craftsman and evolved into this beautiful and unique piece of furniture.

What is a typical workday like for you?

No two days are the same for me, every day is another interesting and fascinating journey and I love every minute of it, from sourcing vintage fabric to designing new pieces, I never tire of it. 

Can you describe the design process?

Normally, I have the vision of the finished piece in my head so I then go about how to create the piece using the best form. 

It is very important that the chair suits the fabric. As a general rule, the more masculine the chair, more it suits our Vintage Military Uniform style. 

The finished piece must be surreal and chair has to have presence and form.

What are you working on at the moment?

Wow what a question! I am working on several pieces at the moment, not to give too much away at this stage but my latest piece is going to be a Vintage American Ceremonial Uniform chair. It is very elaborate and covered in regalia, it will be quite a piece when finished.

I am also working on several other projects: Houses of Parliament Speakers chair, and a very special child’s chair which you will have to wait to see.
What according to you is the next big thing in furniture design?

Upcycled furniture is and always will be the next thing as people are at last realising that our valuable natural resources are and will run out during their lifetime so now is the time to make a difference and besides most of our old family furniture has many years of fond memories attached to it.

What advice can you give those seeking a career in furniture design?

The most important advice I would give is to try and keep your own style, never copy and always try and think outside the box, bring your own personality out on the piece you are working on and it will just materialise in front of you.

What 3 words describe your brand? 

Traditional, eclectic, individual and quirky to name but a few. 

Can you share 3 things people don’t know about you?

Other than being a bit crazy I'm just a normal guy but if I had to confess I'm hopeless at cooking, cannot draw and cannot abide inconsiderate drivers!

Which is your favourite room in your home and why?

At the moment I am sitting in my favourite room. A garden office writing this and watching the wind and rain, in complete silence with my dog.
Sheer bliss!

Where do you see Rhubarb London in five years time?

As you know we have numerous bespoke commissioned pieces all around the world but I would like to see more in the far east so maybe, who knows, watch this space!

What's your favourite inspirational quote?

Say yes before the question and then worry about the answer afterwards.

Proudly handcrafted in Britain, every one of these vintage armchairs are exclusive and embodies a distinctive and distinguished history. As with all of RhubarbLondon’s designs, the crowning glory lies in the detailing - the original epaulettes, labels, buttons, the delicate piping that edges the chair’s seat and armrests are expertly cut and intricately hand-stitched.

Shaun's designs are raising the bar with fresh, eclectic and creative ideas and transforming throwaway vintage furniture and giving it a glamorous new lease of life.

Till next time...get your very own distinctive piece of RhubarbLondon furniture here!


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