Industry Profile: Tim Gosling


Tim Gosling is a man whose talents seem to know no boundaries. World-renowned for his luxury bespoke furniture designs, Tim has the somewhat rare ability to seamlessly combine classical inspiration and exquisite British craftsmanship with ergonomic perfection. Starting his working life as a theatre set designer, Tim held the position of Director at Linley for over 18 years, before moving on to establish his own company, Gosling, in 2005. But his theatrical roots have been far from forgotten, evident in his role as producer for the Interior Designers Pantomime, in which this year he stars as the ever eccentric panto Dame.

Joining us at this year’s Decorex as part of the Seminar Programme to give a delightfully insightful talk on the work of Anouska Hempel, we caught up with Tim after the show to find out more about the importance of craftsmanship in design, material trends, and his theatrical alter-ego, Donna Kebab...

Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I call myself a furniture designer but I guess it’s much more than that. By drawing and sketching a piece I tend to create and design an entire setting for the furniture which can and often does involve designing the entire room. I’m passionate about drawing as its one of the most important communication skills needed in our industry.

I trained as a Theatre designer so have a great sense of how to make a room breath with life , how lighting , colours and materials all play a huge part in creating theatre in our own domestic environments .

What first drew you into the world of interior design? 

I have now been part of the Interior and furniture design world for 25 years so it feels like home to me now, but the world of theatre where I did a BA Hons degree is always close to my heart. I try and see a production a week – it’s after all one of the most wonderful things about living in London.

Who or what would you say is your biggest inspiration? 

Many people past and present have inspired me, working with the very best designers around the world never ceases to be inspirational – I immerse myself in books as I constantly seek to understand not only the rules and history of design but who is breaking them or creating new rules, from Sir John Soane to Anouska Hempel.

If you could describe your work in 3 words, what would they be?

Considered, Beautiful, Classic

Can you tell us a little about your passion for bespoke furniture, and why this part of the industry is important?

England has always been one of the leaders of the world in furniture design and making; Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheridan are known throughout the world. It's crucial we understand and celebrate the Great Architects and interiors with the furniture designers and makers too. It’s not a separate world but one in which each informs the other. The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers was established in 1951 to promote this very objective. It’s an exceptional institution and I am honoured to have been made a Liveryman.

What are the specific challenges you face in your bespoke design work?

Each piece of bespoke furniture gives you ONE chance to get it not only perfect, BUT exciting and innovative. I am designing something which has got to be perfect straight off. It’s an immense challenge which is why we all spend so much time creating drawings, models, and both computer and watercolour renderings BEFORE we start making it. The client must know exactly what they are going to be commissioning. It's then that you can exceed their expectations by making it the best piece possible.

You have a fervour for new materials, what are the current trends in new materials being used in the design world?

I know it sounds strange but materials just get me so excited - the sheer range and possibility of discovering new and historic materials is magical. Gypse - a French Mineral, the hand coloured and cut straw work from France, the use of bone and shagreen, Crystal and Gold leaf. The combinations are endless. The pieces that are waiting to be created and designed in front of you are limitless.  Technology and the current trend of 3-D printing have started to capture my imagination, to now print out technical drawings and designs so I can see the form before it is made is tantalising . We have just spent the last two years designing the world’s first collection of outdoor Carbon fibre super yacht furniture - really exciting.

What role does British Craftsmanship play in your brand? And is there a definite growing demand for it within the design industry?

Without wanting to sound nationalistic it’s critical that I create the form of the furniture using craftsmen from this country. I can use materials from all over the world, BUT the level of detailing and accuracy just doesn’t get any better than the extraordinary skill we have here. I am lucky enough to design and create pieces and installations around the world, and I am so proud of the work we create here in the United Kingdom.

Can you tell us about a current project you are working on?

We are creating a magnificent double height library for a private house in upstate New York. It has a 5 and a half meters tall, 32 panelled vellum inset of a classical carved column as its central focus. The library is in Mahogany with Brass insets and pull out lecterns. To contrast this we are doing an amazing new type of sports super Yacht interior with Todhunter Earle. The furniture is a mixture of Carbon fibre, lightweight composites and classical woods and materials.

You also organise the Interior Designers Pantomime – can you tell us a little about this year’s show?

I’ve been producing the Interior Designers Pantomimes for a while now, really since we moved it on from Fulham Broadway Town hall where it started (we all used to LOVE telling people we were on Broadway),  and with my theatre background decided to take the mantel of Producer and move it into the West End. You can find out more here: 

This year, in a few weeks on 28th October to the 1st November, we shall be on stage with Peter Pan and Designers of the Caribbean. It has been written professionally by Andrew Pollard to capture the essence of the design world. The lost boys are all designers who have fled to Never, Never Land after clients compromised too much of their work in London and now they’ve over decorated the island.

I’m playing the Dame role, Donna Kebab, who after working in a fast food joint owned by Nicky Haslam has quit her job to run off to seek adventure on the high seas. Tinkerbelle has retired and has moved into a cottage at the far end of Never Never Land with Tiger Lilly... and Captain Hook is on the prowl for the secret of creativity .

The most amazing thing about the show, which has over 80 costumes, is that they are all designed out of furnishing fabrics by the world’s most brilliant fashion designers – Dame Vivienne Westwood, Bruce Oldfield, Zandra Rhodes, and brilliantly Jasper Conran has designed all 7 of my outfits which are show stopping ...

        You joined us at Decorex 2014 to present a talk on Anouska Hempel – can you tell us about your experience at the show?

Lecturing at Decorex is always such an honour – I never take it for granted that people want to actually listen or see what I am trying to create or the elements of history that I try to use in my projects . Working with Anouska Hempel over the last 25 years has been a huge privilege, I love the way she thinks, the way she turns everything on its head and creates something, a vision that is utterly unique and bold.

What does the future hold for you?

Let’s get through the Pantomime first! Then its onto my third book which will be published by Thames and Hudson next year. I am working on another wonderful collection for the Rug Company as the first collection I created based on Deco Architecture has been an amazing success ... oh and I’m putting my theatre skills to use with designing a new range of lighting for an American company ... but that’s a secret ...

As a renowned figure within the industry, what would your advice be for aspiring designers?

I know it sounds easy preaching from a position of now being established BUT just don’t underestimate your talent and design capabilities. If you want to see something special in a museum and learn about the industry, pick up the phone, speak to a curator – join the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers - learn what has been before so you can design things for the future .

Never send an email to the head of a studio titled Dear Sir or Madam – always KNOW what you want to be, and who you are talking will take you a very long way.

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