Invisible City, Sustainable Furniture With Architectural Influence

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

Invisible City is barely three years old but its sturdy, sharp-lined and graphic mid-century-esque pieces have already been exhibited in Parisian galleries as works of art and the first two collections have really struck a chord with both the commercial and residential market.

The Brighton-based company is run by Simon Moorhouse, an architect and interior designer previously working in both London and New York. He launched Invisible City with the first collection Incunabular, a series of American Walnut and Figured European Oak desks, tallboys and sideboards, in 2011.

‘At the beginning there were just two of us; which was a very refreshing change for me after the pressures of running a large West London design studio,’ describes Moorhouse.

 

‘Incunabular, and indeed the company itself, was designed and built to celebrate British craftsmanship.’

Moorhouse’s designs are all handcrafted and made with beautiful sustainable materials, using only FSC certified woods that have been carefully selected and sourced from sustainably managed forests through the PEFC Council. They also use local manufacturers in the southeast of England in order to keep their carbon footprint to a minimum and each piece of furniture is made to order, thereby minimising waste.

And alongside its eco-aware heart, Invisible City has the mark of a cool designer mind written all over it. For example, Moorhouse describes the thinking, or ‘geometric rationalle’, behind Incunabular as being ‘based on international standard paper sizes, with the square root of 2 maintaining the aspect ratio of each element, ie. A4, A5 etc.'

Now there is a small team working on manufacturing and distribution, giving Moorhouse the space and the opportunity to design, curate and build a British furniture brand. He is steering it ahead, adding the sequel collection Incunabular 2 at last year’s London Design Festival. This compliments the original range by maintaining the quality but using modern techniques and material combinations to create a more accessible line.

As well as the objects in the ranges, creating modified and bespoke pieces is also a large part of what Invisible City offers.

‘Absolutely,’ says Moorhouse, ‘having worked as a designer myself I understand the needs of the client, architect and interior designer. We try to stay as close to the original Incunabular concept as possible making bespoke colour, material, dimension and modular changes.’

Moorhouse says that commissions always start with a simple phone call or email outlining the clients requirements, and these have so far lead on to something as small as a single colour change to the refurbishment of an entire corporate headquarters. Invisible City will stay in contact throughout the design process regardless of the scale of the project.

Coming from a pure design discipline, Moorhouse cannot help but spend much of his time, well…designing, which of course lends itself very well to have a bespoke arm of the brand, with the process and freshness of evolving ideas and new challenges his natural and sought after habitat.

‘My approach is driven by a design process,’ he asserts, emphasising the point with a touching account of a ‘average day’ for Invisible City and it’s founder. ‘I am a single father with two beautiful children! My day starts with them and then a cycle along the seafront to the studio. This is my headspace which almost always involves coffee and sketch books. Then I enter our studio in The North Laine, Brighton for a day of working with colour, materials, mockups and probably more coffee. I will also spend one day a week prototyping in our workshop. As designers and makers it is imperative that we have a tactile working relationship with the materials we use.’

His home is also filled with prototypes, alongside vintage treasures and books. In fact his bedside table is the first Incunabular side table in Black American Walnut that was ever made, which Moorhouse keeps close as it is the paradigm for everything his company has designed to date.

2014 is going to be a very exciting year for Invisible City as the team are currently working on its first ever lighting and seating pieces, which will be released in March.

Invisible City – www.invisiblecity.co.uk


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