Luke Hughes & Company’s reputation for intelligently and sensitively crafted custom furniture and design precedes it; custom tables, custom chairs and custom benches are just some of the categories of furniture that the company can adapt to suit both the requirements of the users and the settings in which they find themselves. From places of worship to educational institutions, furniture customisation lends any space a considered, refined and unique look and feel.
Custom and bespoke furniture that connects seamlessly with the architecture of notable buildings is perhaps Luke Hughes’ defining specialism. Our work provides practical, aesthetic solutions that perform and delight, built to last and to add decades of value. In fact, each piece of Luke Hughes’ furniture is designed to withstand over fifty years of heavy use - a real feat of engineering compared to the average 5-year lifespan of a standard chair.
Furniture customisation with the future in mind
To create furniture to last as long as this intended, extended, period it’s important to stay ahead of the curve with evolving techniques and material innovation. Furniture customisation implies a level of adaptability, so custom benches or custom chairs that stack, trolleys to streamline processes, the addition of felt pads to protect original, delicate architectural detailing, and custom tables that fold are all becoming commonplace in the majority of our projects.
The design criteria for contemporary custom furniture often hang on its increasingly multi-functional purposes. Cathedrals, for example, now cater to broad communities beyond the more traditional, regular worshippers. Local schools and colleges often make use of the wide, inspiring and historical sites to enrich learning or host recitals, performances and lectures. They are places for county and civic dignitaries and the diocesan clergy team to gather, and they provide local visitors and tourists with a space for reflection, prayer and conversation. So when it comes to creating custom furniture for such an extensive group of beneficiaries, the brief should be less concerned with the conservation of cathedrals as heritage assets than it is about enabling local communities to use the space efficiently and with dignity.
Creating unique custom furniture for unique buildings
This idea of dignity in design can also be applied to the buildings in which our furniture can be found. Luke Hughes’ core proposition is the creation of custom furniture in architecture; it is about the concept of responding to bricks and mortar, architectural details, scale and materiality via the bespoke pieces we produce. Our inextricable ties to architecture and architects alike have proved integral to the growth of Luke Hughes as the custom furniture maker of choice for some of the world’s most prestigious institutions. At the heart of the company is a call to sympathy for the architect who designed the building, expressed in no uncertain terms by designing furniture that possesses a sense of ‘rightness’ both practically and aesthetically. The connection between the architecture and the furniture it hosts should be seamless.
In this way, much of the established rulebook can be discarded. Aesthetic sensitivities will always be part of ecclesiastical furniture design, but the real key to successful reordering is to challenge and refine the brief by working closely and honestly with the client, developing a set of custom furniture that will function better as a result, and in turn, will last much longer.
Furniture customisation in practice
The Luke Hughes product configurator is a digital tool that allows clients to explore and refine their searches for furniture customisation by style, use, the architecture of the building in which one envisages the furniture, and of course, by category. Website visitors can also configure custom upholstery, stains and accessories, working with the Luke Hughes team on CAD blocks and quotes. Our Academy chair, for example, is a very popular piece, originally designed for the Duke’s Hall at the Royal Academy of Music in London and represented in many other notable buildings including Buckingham Palace and Park Avenue Synagogue in New York. It can be finished in five distinct, beautiful stains and upholstered in a range of rich fabrics. Clients are also given the option to add commemorative disks, glides and laser etch engraving to create a completely unique piece of custom furniture.
In the projects for which we have supplied custom Academy chairs, the model is understated and appropriate, allowing the architecture to truly sing. It is much the same story across our entire project portfolio. Buildings cannot function without furniture and the kind of furniture one chooses can enliven and buttress an interior. The best kind of furniture does this without detracting from the building’s overall impact, a quality and a sensitivity resulting from its roots in thoughtful, functional, custom furniture solutions.