Cox London, Handcrafted Furniture and Lighting

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

What happens when a sculptor from New Zealand combines forces with a third generation antique specialist and decorative metal worker?

In the case of this husband and wife design team it has resulted in the striking handmade lighting and furniture company Cox London. Nicola (the sculpting half of the duo) and Christopher Cox set up a North London based studio in 2005 after meeting at the Wimbledon School of Art in the late 90’s and launched their official collaborative product line Cox London in 2010.

With obvious natural and trained artisan skills, their hand finishing, well proportioned pieces and authentic patinas have made them a go-to studio for interior designers working on both residential and commercial projects. Projects that require objects that shout craftsmanship and intricate detail, as Cox pieces reference many classical styles from English and French furniture design, but can also sit right at home in the interiors of today. This maybe because although they are made using age old techniques and materials like brass, iron and glass, there is always something a little daring and unusual about the shapes and motifs that brings them into the contemporary world.

‘We began creating non-functional art works but we were drawn to the object being beautiful and useful simultaneously which quickly led us to making the work we produce today.’

For example, the Serpent Occasional Table is made using a traditional method called Lost Wax Casting which is Nicola’s area of expertise. The process involves making the chosen end design in wax, which means a lot of detail can be carved relatively easily, which then has a mould made around it. The wax is burned out and the  molten material, in this case iron, is poured into the cavity formed by the lost wax pattern. But the way in which serpents splay out and the fact that the interior of the table top is laid with guinea fowl feathers gives it a definite quirk and unexpected, modern outlook.

But the way in which serpents splay out and the fact that the interior of the table top is laid with guinea fowl feathers gives it a definite quirk and unexpected, modern outlook.

What once was a team of two now involves 10 skilled craftsmen, specialising in sculpting forging, shaping and finishing. But it is still very much the Cox’s ‘baby’. ‘Christopher and I pool our ideas for the initial designs’ explains Nicola, ‘and when we are satisfied Christopher, who is also a trained draftsmen, will put together a detailed drawing. We both sculpt and we’ll work closely together to see each piece realised and sign-off each design personally.’

As the ethos is so ‘handmade‘ a bespoke service is at the heart of what they do, where dimensions of the current collection can be adapted or patinas and finishes can be applied in any hue or style. They also take on restoration work and many one off commissions, which comes very naturally to the creative pair.

‘We began creating non-functional art works but we were drawn to the object being beautiful and useful simultaneously which quickly led us to making the work we produce today,’ describes Nicola, ‘But because of our backgrounds we enjoy both the challenge of bespoke commissions and the freedom of making without constraint.”

Some examples of bespoke residential pieces are the oval, carved gilt wood Girandole Mirror. It has become part of the main collection and can be wired or left unwired for wax candles, or no sconce at all. The more contemporary Venetian Glass Leaf Mirror has also been commissioned at a much larger 1650mm overall diameter for a scheme.

Cox recently launched new pieces at the May Design Series, including the Lion Paw Centre Table, with four cast iron legs sculpted as stylised Lions supporting another signature guinea fowl feather glass table top. They also revealed the Vine Console Table which is made from two gnarled bronze uprights inspired by ancient vines. You can see two new exclusive versions of this table at the art, antique and design show Masterpiece London 2013, specifically commissioned by art consultant James Bly for art dealer Philip Mould’s stand.  Masterpiece London runs from 27 June – 3 July at The Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Cox London – www.coxlondon.com


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