British furniture making is one of the top-three divisions driving manufacturing growth in the UK and DAVIDSON are delighted to be a part of it. But, not all furniture is created equally.
At DAVIDSON, we go the extra mile to achieve excellence, thanks to our British craftsmen, who bring our designs to life and whose quality of work and attention to detail help to sustain our high standards. One of the few luxury furniture brands based at the Design Centre in Chelsea, we pride ourselves on being purveyors of the world’s most luxurious free-standing and fitted pieces, all hand crafted and British made to the highest calibre. It’s why being featured in Country & Town House’s luxury index of Great British Brands 2019 is more than just an accolade for us, it’s a testament to our continued effort to source the finest materials and artisans throughout the UK.
The only way to guarantee exceptional British quality
Exquisite attention to detail is at the forefront of everything we do and our enduring quality has been a promise to our clients from the beginning. That’s why every owner of a piece of DAVIDSON furniture will find a neat DAVIDSON plaque discreetly mounted out of sight as a stamp and promise of quality to our clients.
“If you’re paying a lot of money for a piece of furniture, then people have every right to be demanding, so we have to come up to the mark,” says Richard Davidson. “Furthermore, if everything was made abroad and then shipped out to our customers, how would we assure that the quality meets our own standards?” To this end, at every stage of the manufacturing process, each piece is inspected by Richard, Alexandra Davidson, or a core member of the team in order to maintain quality control.
Alexandra and Richard Davidson reviewing pieces with our specialists at our works
“Getting everything to come together at the same time so it can be delivered to the client involves a lot of work,” says Richard, “coordinating between teams of specialist outworkers, checking up on our own works, and maintaining a high level of standard across the board. If the metalwork isn’t up to scratch, for example, there’s no way the rest of the manufacturing can proceed. Every Thursday, our finished pieces are picked up and are either brought to our warehouse in Battersea or delivered directly to the shippers if it’s going abroad, but not before rigorous checks are carried out by our quality controller.”
Sourcing and coordinating the very best of British suppliers
Our furniture is made entirely to order, which separates us from other ‘off-the-shelf’ makers and retailers. As a result, no two pieces are identical. Some will require coordination from numerous specialist outworkers from all around the UK, as well as our team of 20 expert cabinet makers and polishers, who can be found in our works and undertake a large proportion of our bespoke commissions.
As well as our in-house experts, we work with external artisans and craftsmen throughout the country, including a firm of specialist gilders, carvers, woodturners and highly skilled metalworkers.
Reviving traditional heritage techniques
For us, another motivation is to preserve British craftsmanship that dates back hundreds of years. It’s very much about sustaining these practises and keeping heritage crafts alive, while – at the same time – employing modern techniques like laser marquetry and CNC machinery to help realise our designs with precision.
To create the exceptional hand-carved, hand-gilded bronze relief panels for our Galaxy Drinks Cabinet, for example, we call upon a gentleman who has worked as a wood carver for decades. He previously managed a whole team of carvers when ornate, Regency-style furniture was more popular and the need for Georgian lions’ paw feet and elaborate shell carving required to decorate chairs, beds, tables and cabinets exceeded those of modern furniture-making demands.
In fact, professional wood carving has been in decline for decades. In 2017, the Heritage Crafts Association published The Red List of Endangered Crafts to assess serious concerns about the ongoing viability of traditional heritage crafts, from watch dial enamelling to basketry.
A heritage craft is thought to be viable if there are sufficient craftspeople to transmit the knowledge and skills to the next generation. And, although wood carving is considered currently viable by their standards, there are fewer than 100 working professionals left in the country, with only 17 people under the age of 25 who are learning this skill.
Richard explains how the Galaxy cocktail cabinet doors are created: “The four panels start off as premium solid oak, then the wood carver carves in the detail. He gets to work with a chisel and applies varying degrees of pressure to achieve this beautiful ridged, radial relief. You can’t see any areas where he’s slipped, although that’s a very real risk because he’s doing everything by hand. If you think of the human error involved at every stage – just one slip and he has to start from scratch – it’s unbelievably skilled.
“Once carved, the doors are finished in liquid metal ̶ a mixture of bronze powders and lacquers so it becomes adequately liquefied to be applied. Depending on how it’s mixed, we can make it look steelier or more bronzed in colour. We then add a dark stain on top and remove the excess to reveal a very complex, distinctive finish,” says Richard.
You will find this dedication to British craftsmanship in all our pieces, including the award winning Rosebery Table, which took several months and a team of skilled artisans to develop. It’s all part of the commitment of DAVIDSON to preserve and support British manufacturing and the finest British craftsmanship.
We hope that our longstanding commitment to British manufacture will allow us to continue making future heirlooms for generations to come.