Rupert Bevan works with some of the finest craftspeople and artists in the country, providing a bespoke interiors service that is second to none. He tells us how he and his team bring a client’s ideas to life, whether it’s a humble mirror frame or an Indian palace
Firstly, can you tell us about Rupert Bevan Ltd? How did you start and what has been the evolution of the brand since your launch?
I started off being a furniture restorer and gilder. After my apprenticeship I set up my own restoration company in London which then morphed into designing and making bespoke furniture. It was a natural progression as people were increasingly asking me to produce replica pieces, which I then started to make at bespoke sizes at their request, or to alter the finish slightly.
Was it always your ambition to create bespoke furniture and specialist interiors?
No, my initial ambition was to be an architect and then an artist. But I would probably have made a frustrating architect with my lack of patience, and I don’t know how I’d have done has an artist… So actually I think I’m in exactly the right place for what I’m good at. It has elements of communication, artistry and craftsmanship, and I frequently work with both artists and architects. I enjoy seeing the smile on a client’s face when they see the piece they imagined in their heads that didn’t exist before.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Anything and everyone! I’m always taking pictures of things that interest me and I get inspiration from the things that I don’t like as much as the things I do like. I spend lots of time at the V&A and other exhibitions and am not judgemental about style or design era. This enables me to provide a more open varied palette for my clients and their own inspiration.
What is it about Rupert Bevan that appeals to clients?
If you have an interesting or good idea, I can turn that into a reality, like a visual dictionary; we can create whatever you want in terms of furniture or a specialist finish, even if it has never been made before. Because we offer a complete service, our clients can come to us with nothing more than an abstract thought and we then guide them through the whole process to bring that to life.
What makes you unique?
I consider the level of bespoke service we offer to be quite rare, especially when we get clients who are clever and imaginative. The creative aspect can remain attributed to them without me interfering with my own design style and preferences. This is unusual; most designers and makers use their own style and design identity to set them apart from others.
How do meet the needs of your clients?
I think the point is that it’s not just about making a piece of furniture or a specialist interior finish, it’s far more involved. We’re not just trying to understand the thought process and ideas of our clients, but trying to deliver on that so as to meet or even exceed their expectations. Every client has a different approach and a different set of rules, so it’s very important to translate that correctly and pay the utmost attention to detail throughout the entire process.
Do you have a typical client?
No, and that’s what’s so fantastic. My clients can vary from wanting a humble mirror frame to an Indian palace – it doesn’t matter about the scale or style of the project, whether we’re working with interior decorators, architects, developers, or if the end clients come directly to us.
Can you describe the process from the initial consultation to the final fitting?
It starts with an initial consultation with the client, usually either in my showroom and sample studio or onsite. Following this, sketch design options are created based on the ideas, inspiration and specification provided. We work closely with the client to develop and refine the design and to select materials and finishes for the project. If it goes ahead, custom made samples and technical drawings from our skilled design team are supplied for approval.
Each piece is made and finished in our workshops and studios by some of the finest craftspeople and artists in the country. This process cannot be rushed as it’s vitally important that everything is made with the utmost care, skill and attention to detail. The Rupert Bevan team professionally manage the project right through from commencement to delivery or onsite installation, ensuring the process happens as smoothly as possible.
Do you have a favourite project?
I really enjoy working with Rifat Ozbek, as he pushes the limits of conceptual designs and makes the most incredible spaces. Everything he does is always an impressive surprise.
I also loved the work we did with Lucy Eadie on an apartment in Kensington. It was full of sumptuous and magnificent finishes, from a Captain Nero themed corridor panelled in zinc to a gilded dressing room and a bathroom in scalloped eucalyptus to a study clad in magenta leather studded with brass!
What does being a British brand mean to you — how important is British craftsmanship in the world of design/making?
For me it’s not so much about being a British brand as supporting local craftsmanship and smaller scale production. Having direct contact with the makers themselves allows more involvement; a greater understanding of process and skills which is rewarding. Also making one-off unique pieces automatically adds value as they’re rare and not produced in larger quantities, which makes them exclusive and sought after. This is something that is often seen as an epitome of British design – because we outsource most of our industrial production, anything that is still made in Britain is often handcrafted or made in small batches, usually without big supply chains. The furniture and interiors industry is very competitive, so it’s important people recognise that British craftsmanship is valuable in its own right. It can be worth investing in one outstanding bespoke piece that’ll stand the test of time and support British industry instead of purchasing several imported pieces off the shelf!
What’s next in 2016?
At the moment I’m working with a client to create an Indian style banqueting hall, which is going to look incredible. But one of the best things about my work is that I never know what’s going to come next – I love variety and the challenge of creating new interesting things to inspire me, so this suits me really well!
For more informations, visit Rupert Bevan