TIM GOSLING is a furniture designer working on a diverse range of interior design projects that have included a palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice (pictured below), Italy; a 40,000 square foot house in Greenwich, Connecticut and a country house in Scotland. Recognised as one of the great authorities on design and the arts, Tim often designs the entire scheme, on other occasions he works alongside some of the world’s best known interior designers and architects, creating heritage pieces of lasting value. Here he talks to us about his background in design, his lifestyle and inspirations…
ON INTERIORS: “My career evolved from when I took an Arts degree, studying a BA in Theater Design. When I graduated, I started in the business straight away by assisting on the production of ‘Miss Saigon’ at the Drury Lane Theater. That was amazing… playing with helicopters and statues of Ho Chi Minh! I then met David Linley through some friends and began working on all aspects of furniture design, during which I learned a huge amount about craftsmanship and detailing. Because I can draw, sketch and also paint in both water-colours and oil, I think it gives me a strong edge in being able to communicate a creative concept fast and effectively…I always sit down with a client and draw, and by the time we leave the meeting the proposed room and furniture has magically ‘appeared’ in front of them and we both know what we are going away to achieve.”
ON CLIENTS: “My typical client is someone who has reached the top level of whatever profession they set out to work in – I learn a great deal from my clients through their passions for collecting and commissioning furniture. I don’t go into a discussion feeling I want to implement my own will, in fact most of the time the clients know their own minds so well that it makes my role more of an artistic ‘equal’, and as such we can both explore all the options of design on a project.”
ON FURNISHINGS: “I’ve been designing furniture now for over 25 years which has been an amazing privilege. Discovering museum collections and having the honour of curators explain the brilliance of these pieces to me has been incredible. Working with the best craftsmanship in the world and building up a remarkable level of trust and ability to make and push design boundaries has also been wonderful. I’m always aware of the legacy of whatever I create, I think because so much of my work has been influenced by history and the past I have learned to have a great respect and vision in what I do.”
ON BESPOKE: “I’m proud of every single project I’ve worked on, each one moves the design direction forward and I make sure that no piece of furniture is ever produced more than once – that’s a really big undertaking because sometimes I get people asking for a piece that’s ‘on page 50’ of a book of mine, to which I respond ‘That’s very kind, but I will design something specific to you, if you can send me the room it’s going in and it’s history, then I will take the elements of the piece you love and make you love it even more!’ This means they are part of the creative process and the piece literally becomes and expression of them. I think that’s why clients keep the furnishings and respect them so much.”
ON STYLE: “My collection of furnishings includes a massive range of styles, from Art Deco and Regency, to contemporary carbon fibre pieces for super yachts through to Arts and Crafts. What I produce depends on the individual property, the designers I work with and whatever the client wishes to create. To describe the essence my pieces, I would say that they are ‘clean cut’ and the huge range of stunning timbers we use is extraordinary. The inlays of cut and dyed straw are remarkable and so is the more traditional marquetry, marble inlay (Pieta Dura) and vellum work; vellum is something that connects directly to my love of books and to living in the Great Britain – we are the last country in the world to still write all our laws onto Vellum scrolls, which are stored in the Palace of Westminster.”
ON INSPIRATION: “I find inspiration in a great many things – I love theater and it informs my view of history and current affairs a great deal. I tend to go to the theater at least once a week – on a good week up to three nights! I produce a show in the west end every three years in which, for just a week, I put all the major interior designers on stage in costumes designed by the fashion greats – Westwood, Gaultier, Paul Smith, Jasper Conran, Bruce Oldfield, Zandra Rhodes… The costumes are all made out of furnishing fabrics donated by the industry and it raises about £300,000 clear for the charity in just a week. On one recent occasion, it was ‘Peter Pan and the Designers of the Caribbean’ in aid of the NSPCC. The fact that the designers all participate and everyone mucks in, is what makes it truly inspirational to me.”
ON HOME LIFE: “I’m based in Clapham Old Town and I’m lucky enough to live in a house built in 1787 with the most beautiful listed ceilings and Georgian detailing and proportions. The dining room apse to the house, which is all original plaster work, is gilded and I’ve started creating a ‘grand tour‘ plaster collection of life sized sculptures in it. I’ve a wonderful double height library which houses part of the ever growing collection of antiquarian books I collect, plus the samples of craftsmanship that I use to push the boundaries of my work.”
“Clapham has been the most extraordinary place to live in and to establish myself. I took the house purely on the basis that it’s ceilings were tall enough to hang a really huge painting I owned, ‘The Lament of Icaras’ – I didn’t really mind which room in the house the painting was installed as long as it could fit in it, and so I moved to Clapham in 1996. Since then I have embedded myself in Clapham’s culture – Vivienne Westwood and her husband Andreas live opposite in another splendid Georgian house, and Lucie Kitchener, the daughter of a great friend of mine, the late George Martin, lives in the Regency town square just behind. We are all actively involved in the Arts Center here and I’m a trustee…it was the old library and is now called ‘Omnibus’. We all got a bit fed up with the over development of this now fashionable area – which wasn’t quite so fashionable when I moved in – so instead of the Old Library, which is located about ten houses down from me, being turned into even more luxury rabbit-hutch sized flats, we built a 110 seat theatre and concert room encompassing the most wonderful collection of theater, music and arts for the community.”
ON GETTING AWAY: “For relaxing on a beach,I love Tobago and Barbados; for museums, St Petersburg, London and Philadelphia; for a great dry Martini it has to be New York and for music and opera, Salzburg in Austria…and finally, Ibiza – for a good dance at a David Guetta rave!”
Follow Tim on instagram at @restorationchateau to see the amazing transformation of his beautiful 1780’s chateau in Normandy (see video clips below).
Contact Tim: http://www.tgosling.com
BOOKS BY TIM GOSLING:
Classic Contemporary: The DNA of Furniture Design Published by Thames and Hudson: Tim’s latest book which was recently launched in New York – It looks at the Stylistic DNA of periods from William Kent to the post modernist work and beyond. Tim’s father took the first picture of DNA, the now Famous ‘Photo 51‘, which is why he has an obsessive view of trying to understand why things are the way they are, how to describe them and stylistically what makes them fit into a certain period and feel.
London Secrets a draftsman’s Guide Published by Endeavor: This book features all Tim’s drawings in pencil of amazing places in London, some you will know and some will amaze you. Tim has also managed to track down stunning images of history to sketch against.
Gosling: Classic Design for Contemporary Interiors Published by Prestel: Includes the materials used from water gilding through to eglomise glass; working with the V & A and showing examples of work.