Meet the London Furniture Designers Working in a Reclaimed Railway Shed

Meet the London Furniture Designers Working in a Reclaimed Railway Shed

By Heather Corcoran
After a winning turn at the London Design Festival 2016, Pinch showcases its latest designs—and opens the doors of its South London workshop.

Since 2004, Pinch, the independent London design studio run by the husband-and-wife team of Russell Pinch and Oona Bannon, has become known for creating refined designs that celebrate quality materials over unnecessary decorative flourish. (See more Pinch designs at their rustic-meets-modern French retreat in our October 2016 issue.)

This year, the duo has debuted a slate of new pieces that showcase their combined interest in craftsmanship, functionality, and form (an approach that's perfectly timed to design's recently revived interest in Shaker style). 

The Frans drinks cabinet, which Pinch showcased at Decorex International during the London Design Festival, features a satin copper lacquered work surface, adjustable shelves to allow for varying bottle and glass heights, a stained and silicon-lined drinks trough, wine storage, and space for hanging glasses.

Among the standouts at this year's Decorex International at the London Design Festival was Pinch's Frans drinks cabinet, a bar made of oak on a lacquered base that opens to reveal a warm, peach-tone mirror and a copper work surface illuminated by hidden LED lighting.

This streamlined design was devised not too far from the show at the Clapham North Arts Center in South London, where Pinch has been based since 2010. There, the team works in a railway shed Pinch and Bannon converted themselves. 

Pinch's serene showroom contrasts the creative chaos in the studio upstairs, but the models that line the back wall give visitors a hint of the creative process happening just above them.

The reinvigorated space was designed with the Danish concept of hygge, or coziness, in mind. In one triangular studio, light streams through stained glass onto wood floors, while a log-burning stove radiates warmth. Throughout, half-finished pieces and prototypes mingle with other Pinch furniture in a casual, unstudied way.

"Like the best homes, the workshop is not polished, but it's true to its inhabitants," the designers say. (An idea we at Dwell can certainly get behind.)

The designers wanted the studio to feel natural and warm.

It's not unusual to find furniture from the line next to cardboard prototypes and woodworking tools—the team makes monthly sweeps to balance their desire to reveal their process without taking away from the polished pieces on display. 

The studio has evolved as the company has grown—currently there are about 10 employees—with Bannon and Pinch annexing additional units as more space is needed. 

The current studio is a showroom/workshop hybrid made of two main units, each about 750 square feet, connected by a mezzanine bridge. 

The design team works in the mezzanine, which is reached by a spiral staircase. Here they make models, finish in-house products, and work on prototypes.

A few of the tools of the trade at the Pinch studio in South London.

The designers, who also take on interior projects, had quite the task on hand when they first discovered the space. It showed the scars of its industrial manufacturing past—as well as evidence of the many pigeons who had taken roost there. 

Together, Bannon and Pinch did everything from lining the roof to putting in a spiral staircase and building a kitchenette.

A shelf of models sits over a design station layered with inspiration. 

Color samples surround a model of Pinch's fisherman-inspired Float table. 

"The models and samples always get everyone so excited, the scale involved brings out the kid in everyone." —Oona Bannon, Pinch

The abundance of models is a reflective of the designers' approach: They're constantly mocking up ideas as pieces are refined detail by detail. 

They describe the finished space as relaxed and authentic, with great light—an essential factor for those obsessed with materiality, they say. If anything, it's surprisingly not precious for a furniture showcase, something that helps in the design process.

"When we are developing a piece its great to sit with it for a while," Bannon says. "You can read a gentleness in our furniture, and maybe that comes from the fact that our pieces are given a really generous amount of thought and time when it comes to refining ... That is what we strive to do: create gentle, dimensional, and beautiful furniture that also has an architectural rigor in its form."

In the Pinch showroom, a Holland Park School armchair designed by Richard Pinch for Ercol sits beside a Clyde lamp table and Frey sideboard from the Pinch collection. The brand's Iona mirror hangs on the wall while their gauzy Beata pendant dangles from above. 

The exterior of the Pinch showroom and studio shows its industrial past.

See more Pinch designs at their rustic-meets-modern French retreat in our October 2016 issue.

Cover photo by Pinch Studio.  


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