Ochre, Discreet Glamour and Calm Craftmanship

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

Ochre are well known for their quietly beautiful interior products. With subtle, warm colours, an emphasis on British craftsmanship, contemporary shapes and slightly aged finishes, the all women team have created an effortlessly inviting style.

They describe themselves as a ‘tightly-knit design company’, which was founded in 1996 by Joanna Bibby and Harriet Maxwell Macdonald, who met at art school. With a shared aesthetic for the beauty of the understated they were inspired to put their ideas into practice for their debut at 100% Design in London.

The first creations were gessoed lamp bases, delicately coloured, water gilded and balanced with simple shades.

Solenne de la Fouchardière became the third partner of Ochre in October 2000, and the team continued to expand their horizons, now with a New York showroom as well as the London location in Clerkenwell’s design district.

They have a comprehensive and varied product line, with lighting continuing to push the brand’s designs into the limelight, with well known pieces like the Arctic Pear chandelier, a three tiered pendant light in patinated bronze or nickel with solid glass drops. Chainmail comes in oval, circle, square and rectangular double layers of chainmail edged with saddle leather. There is also seating, like the oak and linen Zeffirelli Sofa, beds, consoles and tables.

They also produce chic interior accessories such as horse hair and suede covered screens, patinated bronze mirrors and door handles in nickel and horn.

These examples mentioned, show their signature materials palette, and appear in the colours which have become established as ‘Ochre colours’, those inspired by nature – slate, heather, water and sky. ‘We embrace the way that nature harmonises colour from the first greens of spring foliage to the burnished tones of autumnal bracken, but also how nature can surprise with sudden contrasts and unexpected textures,’ describe the team.

The studio spend much of their time customising the product line in bespoke sizes and finishes, interchanging the materials that come naturally to them to the clients’ request, most of which are interior designers and architects but they are more than happy to work for private clients.

‘We are mainly asked for larger variations on the chandeliers,’ describes Harriet, ‘usually very, very long ones that fall all the way down the stairwell of a large house, or a large scale piece for the reception area of a boutique hotel, or for over a bar in a restaurant.’

They find this to be a really rewarding way of working that has seen them work on a number of prestigious locations and with high profile names. These include a custom size version of clear glass dropped Light Drizzle at Victoria’s Secret New York, the Penthouse Suite of the Intercontinental Dubai, and a 320cm wide version of Arctic Pear for Corney & Barrow Wine Merchants in London.

‘We chose to work in this way so as to not to compromise on our own strong aesthetic,’ elaborates Joanna. ‘It is great because people chose something because they already like it and simply make it fit them and their lifestyle or needs, rather like customising a suit.’ 

They have also created arresting work for residential properties such as an oval interpretation on the Eclipse chandelier to echo a large dining table of the same shape, as well a very long, multi tiered spiralling version to follow a huge curved staircase.

Having already turned their hand to so many beautiful products, we wonder what is coming next?

We have been nagged for many years to design some dining chairs and we have finally taken up the challenge,’ laughs Harriet, ‘so watch this space!’

You can see Ochre’s sublime creations, including a few new ones, at this year’s Decorex and Clerkenwell Design Quarter at this year’s London Design Festival

Ochre – ochre.net

100% Design – www.100percentdesign.co.uk

Decorex – www.decorex.com

Clerkenwell Design Quarter – www.clerkenwelldesignquarter.com

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