B&D Design, Indoor & Outdoor Fireplaces Meet Metallic Artistry

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

Sculptor Cathy Azria of B&D Design has found a whole new area of the house that can have its creative and aesthetic potential maximised – the fireplace.

Already a natural focal point of a room, the metal work artist creates arresting steel installations which decorate the hearth itself, glowing inside the fire as it burns.

‘I have always been attracted to the inner temple of the fireplace – it’s like a cave” explains Tunisian born Azria, “I love the idea of entertaining the flames; giving them an installation to play around. Even when the fire is not on a sculpture transforms a fireplace into a lovely niche to sit beside.’

‘All I need is to know what type of sculptures my client is attracted to. Sometimes they are not sure and we will discuss and take a few different elements in consideration, to achieve what is best for them.’

Azria left Tunisia to live in France, before setting off to London 30 years ago to study Sculpture and was drawn towards exploring the inner world of the hearth, following a fruitless search for something ready-made for her own home.

‘I moved to a large house in North London which had 17th Century French marble surrounds but I couldn’t find anything to put inside them” she recalls. “We were young and wanted something contemporary, not a replica of something traditional.’

After giving in and going with the current trend of adding a rather uninspiring, wicker basket to a hearth, Cathy refused to be defeated and took matters into her own hands and started exploring the concept of using metal as a foil to flames, both for its sculptural potential and for the way that it responds to heat, transforming into glowing forms.

‘After a year I got rid of the marble surround, made a hole in the wall and made a bonfire-style sculpture for myself. Friends asked me to make the same for them including my sister-in-law in California – I now ship my fireplace sculptures all over the world.’

Her team has always been two people, Azria and an assistant for the welding and and heavy metal work. ‘I am an artist before all,’ Azria says of her role in the team, ‘and my interest is in the visual, so I dream and together, we make it happen.’

Bespoke work is a passion for her, stating that she could ‘never’ go into mass production, not least because it would make things more ‘boring’! But although custom made, the graphic, geometric shaped fireplaces pieces also come in certain categories, which include Planes, with its tapered slats that appear stacked, Wigwam with steel rods proudly protruding upwards and towards each other. Metropolis with its skyscraper esque skyline feel, is in homage to the famous 1927 silent movie. And Loop, which features a flowing circular motif inspired by Saturn’s rings. But as they are all custom made, each one can be modified, particularly the dimensions depending on its planned setting. They can all be created with their own concealed burner and are available for outside fireplaces.

‘Every fire commission is exciting and presents a different set of requests.’

One very rewarding commission was to create a 2500 mm bonfire style sculpture insert, which led onto being asked to create completely different sculptures for the three other fireplaces in the same house. Metropolis and Loop were born from this project.’

Other past fun commissions include a creating  fire sculptures for a presidential suite in a Swiss palace but no matter who the client, she loves the process of making bespoke creations to a brief. ‘I absolutely adore my work and every project brings me a lot of joy,’ she describes. ‘The lovely smile on my client’s face is where my reward is.’

She explains that for her the commissioning process is ‘simple and transparent.’

‘All I need is to know what type of sculptures my client is attracted to,’ she continues. ‘Sometimes they are not sure and we will discuss and take a few different elements in consideration, to achieve what is best for them. Once I have the fireplace inner dimensions, I give them a quote.’

Upon receipt of the deposit, the order enters Azria’s work load, and she creates the piece, needing around 6-9 weeks from order to delivery.

The sculptor has also launched a furniture line which includes Loop table with the signature circular shapes, with a glass top. There is also the smaller Moon side table, which has a similar feel for the base but has also has a bronze cast top option. Both tables are also made bespoke so can be modified for the projects needs.

At the moment she is working on a piece destined for a spa in one of Paris’s hottest palaces which is reopening soon. She is also creating fireplaces with a Canadian client for an outdoor meditation space . ‘The set up is absolutely breathtaking,’ Azria describes, ‘and I love the idea as it will be a public place to be shared by many.’

A true bespoke artist who’s work has found its way into the world of interior design because of a mixture of necessity and a passion for beauty, two of the best reasons that a product is designed. We look forward to seeing whats next for B&D Designs.

B & D Design – www.bd-designs.co.uk


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