LDF 2017 – Bethan Gray x Shamsian

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Welsh designer Bethan Gray launches new additions to her hit 'Shamsian' collection at designjunction 2017

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

Modern marquetry is having a moment, and it's largely thanks to Welsh designer Bethan Gray, who wowed visitors to last year's designjunction fair when she launched her 'Shamsian' collection of furniture featuring the oft-forgotten craft. For this week's London designjunction 2017 showcase in the King's Cross Creative Quarter, Gray will be expanding the range, revealing gorgeous new monochrome marquetry as well as a stunning marble tea set on her stand at Cubitt House. Yes, marble!

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Inspired by Omani design and architecture, Gray's 'Shamsian' pieces were produced in collaboration with respected Omani artist Mohamad Reza Shamsian and his team of skilled craftsmen based in his studio in Muscat. The handmade 'Nizwa' cabinet, which debuted in 2016, features intricate marquetry on dyed Italian maple veneer, teamed with solid brass. Originally seen in a seductive greeny-blue hue, for 2017 it has been reissued in a more subtle palette running from black via grey to white like a dip-dyed effect. The new monochrome finish was achieved by applying a graduating variation in shade across the cabinet by hand, resulting in an ombre from white to black. The result is super-chic and striking, and will fit easily into contemporary homes.

TOP: Bethan Gray perches on her 'Nizwa' cabinet, part of her striking 'Shamsian' collection, re-released for 2017 with monochrome marquetry
ABOVE: Fading from black to grey and white, the new 'Nizwa' cabinet was hand-crafted using a technique called 'stain shading' with solid brass overlay

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ABOVE: Gray's new 'Dhow' cabinet series takes its cue from Gulf sailing boats, and will also be on show at designjunction 2017
BELOW: The original greeny-blue 'Nizwa' cabinet from 2016, featuring luxe pattern created by inlaying/overlaying solid brass and paua shell inlay into coloured solid wood and maple veneer

Also turning heads for 2017 is the new 'Dhow' cabinet series, sporting a swirly, wavy pattern. "For the Dhow collection, I have taken inspiration from the dhow sailing boats of the Gulf region," says Gray. "Traditional dhows were propelled by large triangular lateen sails made of cotton and sewn together in strips. The sails were bound to the hull using ropes made from coir, which created a unique and textured lineation. This lineation has informed the distinctive elegant curved patterning found on the 'Dhow' pieces.'

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Marble also earns a starring role on Gray's stand, but not harnessed in the typical furniture or surface materials. Instead, she has dared to use it to design her hand-crafted marble 'Victoria Teaset' in a new collaboration with Editions Milano. Consisting of a teapot, milk jug, tea cup and saucer, sugar bowl, cake stand and dessert plate, it's worthy of a place in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Inspired by fine vintage ceramics in the archive of the city's V&A Museum, it features a relief pattern, hand-carved from Arabescato marble by Italian master craftsmen. The fine edging and elegant shape adds delicacy, with a glam touch care of the contrasting brushed brass handle. The best of British tradition meets Italian glamour, ideal for a romantic 21st-century tea date. Now that's what we call a modern ritual...
bethangray.com; thedesignjunction.co.uk

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ABOVE: Launching at designjunction this week, Gray's 'Victoria Teaset' for Italian high-end furniture and objects brand Editions Milano adds marble chic to the elegant tradition of taking tea

Bethan Gray will be at designjunction on stand A7 in Cubitt House, 1 Granary Square, King's Cross, N1, from Thursday 21 to Sunday 24 September 2017. See our home page for ticket registration for the fair which is open from 11am each morning (click here for varying closing times and prices).