Victoria Stainow, Bespoke Furniture

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

‘I was a banker in my “first life” but never really took to it,’ elegant, Victoria Stainow says of her career change into the world of interiors in 2006.

‘I moved from the USA to the UK in 1983 and raised our family in London. I worked for Sotheby’s London for 16 years during which time I was exposed to many areas of the decorative arts and developed a particular interest in Modern Art and interior design from the mid-20th Century, particularly in France.’

This led to Stainow and one other team member joining forces to begin making pieces of furniture for a small group of English and American decorators. They progressed for around five years before they re-launched the business with a new website and an expanded line of bespoke furniture in April 2012 and have never looked back. The team now comprises Stainow, six artisans in Provence, France, one in England and a ‘wonderful assistant’ in London.

Stainow remains responsible for the concept and design of the furniture and liaison with the makers, as well as always being on the look-out for further inspiration for new pieces for the collection.

‘It is gratifying to assist the decorator and the client in furnishing the space in an original and personal way and it is also interesting to work with the artisan in creating the new piece.’

There is a set product line in the sense that all the pieces in the collection have prototypes which are made in standard dimensions and materials. The team, who work with many interior designers and private clients, are often asked to reproduce them exactly as they appear on our website but they are also happy and able to change a certain aspect of the design to make it more unique or to work in a certain colour scheme or to change the size. ‘The collection is very versatile from that point of view,’ says Stainow.

The pieces definitely have a Deco to mid-century feel with clear cut lines and geometric forms, with a healthy use of chrome, lacquer, hides and exotic woods. There is an air of classic Parisian chic but also interesting touches and finishes that keep them contemporary and make you look closer. Such as the hammered iron legs of Table Philippe and the open ended ideas for the finishes for their take on a 1940s Chauffeuses (low chair), which can come with a walnut, vellum or even mirrored base.

‘I guess it is obvious given the content of my collection that I am inspired by the art, architecture and decoration from the mid 20th Century,’ confirms Stainow, ‘not only in France but also in America, the Continent and England. When it comes to materials, I love brass; it is such a cheerful material, yet also rich and sophisticated.’

Stainow says the company’s signature piece and also its best seller is the Table Basse, a wonderful handcrafted coffee table made in her favourite brass and glass and wood, which is based on a mid 20th Century design. ‘We have made it in endless versions,’ she describes. ‘Rectangular, square, small, large, walnut base, oak base, patinated and natural brass.’

The team also occasionally undertake commissions for clients who come to them with a specific idea, providing drawings and computer generated replicas of a final product to reach the go-ahead needed to begin making. Once a decision is made the lead time is usually between 8 and 12 weeks, depending on the piece. At the moment they are making a glass and brass coffee table for a client in NYC based on a mid-century model which she had spotted in Paris but was too small for the space she was planning for.

They are also working on a huge room divider composed of Stainow’s Bibliotheque Fantaisie for an open plan apartment, as well working on a concept using the Table Basse as a display case for a valuable Faberge collection.

When asked if she finds the bespoke side of business a rewarding process Stainow is very clear.

‘Oh definitely. It is gratifying to assist the decorator and the client in furnishing the space in an original and personal way and it is also interesting to work with the artisan in creating the new piece. There are always challenges and obstacles to overcome with the first version of a piece; I am always impressed by the artisans’ perseverance, lateral thinking and skill in getting the job done.’

Look out for the newly launched products, which includes mirrors inspired by a 1940’s French design and an upcoming collection to be released in 2014, which will be based on hand dyed calf and goatskin vellums, as well as new pieces in a beautiful burr walnut.

Victoria Stainow –

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