At the Cotswold Company, our aim is to use the very best of traditional woodworking techniques alongside new technologies to enhance the natural beauty of wood – all to create fine pieces of oak furniture that will endure for years to come
THE BEAUTY OF ELKSTONE OAK
There’s nothing like the bustle of a big family dinner with your children and your friends and their kids squeezed around a table sharing food,” says Lisa Coppin, Creative Director at Cotswold Company. “I wanted to create a range of furniture that made that possible.”
Elkstone Oak was the first product range she worked on after joining the Cotswold Company, and it has a special place in her heart, “I have a big family. Including a bench in the range that children can cram onto, or making sure the table had pedestal legs so you can fit more people around it – those design specifications were very personal.” Well-made, cleverly designed wooden furniture created for every stage of family life is a hallmark of the Cotswold Company and, launched in autumn of last year, this range is no different. At once elegant and contemporary, it’s designed to last a lifetime. It has a solid oak framework and is crafted using traditional techniques, such as mortise and tenon joints. It’s the kind of furniture that after a few years looks like it’s been in your home forever. It develops a patina over time – “being scuffed or accidentally drawn on by your kids is all part of that process,” says Lisa.
FAMILY HEIRLOOMS IN THE MAKING
“This is the kind of range that you’d pass on to your children or grandchildren,” continues Lisa. The kind of cabinet that’s as good for storage – it has two doors so they are wider rather than the traditional three – as it is for hide and seek. It’s the sort of table that you can turn into a den all day and then host a dinner party around all evening. “The idea was to give oak furniture a new lease of life,” says Lisa. “Classic oak furniture is very rustic and can be chunky. We wanted to bring it back in a contemporary way. We wanted to create something with a modern country feel. The table would fit as well into a loft as to a Cotswolds cottage. Furniture that would look good paired with Scandi-style furniture as well as vintage finds.” The Cotswold Company briefed furniture designer, Owen Martin, to capture the antique feel of farmhouse furniture, but in an elegant and contemporary way – sturdy but not clunky.
“He paid special attention to things like the turned feet and the shape of the table pedestals, as well as making sure the dresser tops were well proportioned,” she says. “There are some lovely little details like really delicate grooves on the wood under the edges. In design everything has become very regular but we tried to go back to the way cabinet furniture was made in the past, paying attention to form and proportion rather than doing things in standard way.”
THE VIRTUES OF VENEER
“All our products are built to last,” says Lewis High, who is the Head of Quality. “We use the technique most suitable to the part and the product.” Elkstone is made predominantly of solid oak. We use veneers in parts of the construction where using solid wood would cause quality issues. Veneers are a traditional and structurally sound aspect of furniture-making that can be traced back to Egyptian times, when the tombs of early Pharaohs were sometimes buried with objects that were adorned with African ebony veneer and ivory inlays.
WHY WE USE THEM
“Veneers are actually less prone to cracking or warping than solid wood, which is why we sometimes use them,” explains Lewis. “A large section of oak for the table top is vulnerable
to splitting or warping. Whereas an oak veneer maintains the appearance of solid oak while giving a durable and trouble-free finish that will last for many years. For that reason we chose a veneer for the Elkstone Oak table top.” Lewis works on the supply chain from the beginning of a product’s life – working on product design with the buying team – right to the moment it’s delivered to customers and starts a new stage in its journey. “Quality is our watchword,” he says. “It’s one of the things that I love most about my job – the passionate friendly people I work with and the satisfaction that comes with bringing great quality products to customers.”
THE CHARM OF WOOD
The appeal of wood is timeless. “I love to work with wood. It’s beautiful, durable and renewable,” says Lewis. “There are so many types of timber and finishes available. Paint, wax, oil and lacquers all achieve different looks.” Part of Lewis’ job is to work with the technical teams on drawing and teams in China and Vietnam – where traditional crafts like woodwork are still passed down through the generations – to get the best-quality furniture exactly to our specification.
“For me it’s all about the details,” says Lewis. “Some of the range took three samples to get right. We had to explain to the manufacturers that we didn’t want perfection. We wanted to show the knots and the character of the tree it came from. We wanted to be able to feel the grain.”
OUR PART IN PRESERVING THE PLANET
“We are keen to play our part,” says Lewis. “Responsibly sourced timber is the most sustainable material for building furniture, and we make sure we trace all timber back to its forest of origin. Although this is a legal requirement, it is a moral one for us, too.” Currently all of Cotswold Company MDF wood is responsibly sourced with 45% certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and by the end of 2022, we are aiming to use 100% FSC-certified MDF wood. “We’re moving towards 100% FSC-certified cardboard packaging and eliminating polystyrene packaging by then too.”
For more information about how we’re looking to play our part, you can read our Sustainability Pledge.