here can be no better time to talk to a furniture designer than when they have just launched a particularly significant new product. It would be fair to say that Clive Christian’s new Garden Kitchen fits that description perfectly and it was high on my list of things to talk about with the company’s new head of design Oli Deadman. And ‘particularly significant’ is no exaggeration as it was the first new product launch in 10 years for a company whose name has become a byword in luxury, bespoke furniture, employing 55 staff and operating 18 stores around the world – one of which it owns and the rest are franchises. And this is the first time Clive Christian Furniture has ventured into outdoor kitchens in its 50-year history. According to Deadman, the new outdoor furniture is just the vanguard of more to come in the future. He tells kbbreview: “We are currently putting together the finishing touches on a couple of installations that are being photographed now and will be released later on this year. This is just the start of a regular occurrence of us looking at the market and releasing new products to say ‘we’ve got these brand new capabilities available, fantastic new materials that we could and should be using and getting them out there for our clientele’.”

He adds: “There are lots of exciting things in the pipeline and the Garden Kitchen has been a great opening gambit to say ‘hey guys, we’re back

and we’re producing to the same unbelievable levels of opulence that we always have, but you can have that outside too now’. And that opened us back up to different audiences that perhaps saw us being a little quieter over the past 10 years. But we have been in the background, we have been working on ourselves, looking at how we introduce new products and how we benchmark it to ensure it meets our brand standards. “And with the reinvigoration from the new company ownership, you will see a lot more exciting things to come over the next months, never mind years.” The reinvigoration Deadman refers to was the management buyout of the company in October 2019 from Souter Investments led by current chairman – and former owner of fireclay sink manufacturer Shaws of Darwen – David Dare, and the subsequent appointment of Phil Cole as global sales director in October 2020. Deadman recalls: “David Dare wanted to push us back into the forefront of design and con su-

With Clive Christian you get to work with the most fantastic materials, the most fantastic clients. You don’t have the budget constraints you might have with a client off the high street, so you can really design to your heart’s content

mer-led areas that we always have been in traditionally. He has rein- vigorated the brand and given us the support to be able to regroup.” And regroup it did with a vengeance with the launch its first ever outdoor kitchen.

Carte blanche

Deadman may only have moved into his role as head of design this January, but he joined Clive Christian Furniture straight from university in 2009. He tells me what attracted him to the company: “It was the possibilities. As a designer, you are always limited to a brief, but with Clive Christian you get to work with the most fantastic materials, the most fantastic clients. “You don’t have the budget constraints you might have with a client off the high street, so you can really design to your heart’s content and realise the client’s dream. Which is a fantastic thing to be able to do. “You have carte blanche – you have a full range of palettes, materials and processes with access to some of the most fantastic materials on the market, you have a workshop full of people who want to work and want to develop the very best products they can.” Initially, Deadman worked under founding designer David Dunkley. He recalls: “I came in via a design for manufacture background, and as I grew and took on more responsibility and worked within more design areas that led me to work closely with David and Clive himself. It was the complete opposite side of the company and it was lovely to be able to go and see

David and Clive and talk through different aspects of products that wouldn’t necessarily be at the forefront working in manufacturing, so that allowed me to grow and see things from a different perspective. “As a creative designer, it’s my job to say ‘this might not be in your wheelhouse now, but it will be in two weeks’ time’. To push the limits, which is essentially what Clive Christian has always done and will continue to do going forward.”

Before quizzing him on the fine detail of the Garden Kitchen, I was keen to learn more about his role as head of design. He says: “I very much feel like the furniture I work with is my baby. I would say I am a guardian to ensure we maintain the past qualities that are synonymous with us as a brand, to keep the character and exceptional elements true to our heritage, but also to drive the product in a direction that maintains its opulence and grandeur and its wonderful wow factors, by introducing new materials and new processes to bring the customers in. It is very tricky because design is essentially an argument. I always say that without a little bit of confrontation every now and again on what is possible, we’d all just manufacture the same product.

“So I have to diplomatically push the envelope on our comfort zones and, I suppose, on what the market sees as being a comfortable thing, 

Clive Christian’s

Garden Kitchen was designed to stand up to outdoor life and

borrowed many ideas used on superyachts

October 2021 ·

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