Jan Hendzel studio launches a collaborative furniture collection for new lifestyle hotel brand Birch.

Jan Hendzel Studio (Unit 8, TB-01) was approached by Red Deer architects to lead a collaborative ensemble of artists and makers to create bedroom valets as part of the £8.5million Birch estate overhaul.

With the vision of challenging project wastefulness and turning uniformity of design on its head, Jan Hendzel worked with sustainable material designer Charlotte Kidger, ceramicist Emma Louise Payne and metalsmith Lucie Naujalis, to turn the simple valet stand into a stunning sculptural form. More fine art than furniture. The innovation of the range lies not just in their unique shape, but in the synergy of contrasting textures and materials. Sediment-cast recycled plastic forms, raw agglomerated black cork, glazed and textured ceramics and hand-beaten patinated copper vessels sit alongside exquisitely shaped and laminated solid wood pieces made from sycamore and ash.

The tactile crafted elements invite the guest to interact in different ways – to hang a dress, a jacket, a watch, jewellery, display flowers or simply to store loose change, a set of keys or a mobile phone. Hendzel was careful to select the timber that best suited the sustainable aspirations of the project. The ash and sycamore is part of the GIB (Grown in Britain) scheme and originated from the continuous cover forests from National Trust estates around Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Each piece was handmade in small batches at Hendzel's Thames-Side Studios workshop. With a master woodworker’s approach and understanding of joinery, Hendzel was well-placed to overcome the technical challenge in bringing the multiple elements together in a single form that was simultaneously light and robust yet able to be easily taken apart. His system of octagonal uprights, finely jointed with expressed pin details, has been designed to withstand the 'drunk guest test' and conform to safety requirements, but also be easily interchanged by slotting in and out of the base unit. These modular elements mean the valets can be updated over time. A constantly evolving piece of furniture.

Jan Hendzel founder of Jan Hendzel Studio says 'Red Deer came to us with a clear message from the Birch project. It was about experimentation, difference, having fun, celebrating the variety and surprises that comes from involving individual makers rather than large furniture factories. And the hotel team have been open-minded and progressive clients, with similar deep-rooted interests in the sustainability and longevity of objects as ourselves. They weren't afraid of including the natural defects in materials nor the distinct unique hand of the maker. It has meant a lot of creative freedom and each object is distinct and beautiful in its own way. The synergy of various skilled craftspeople has really brought this project together.'

Text and images courtesy Jan Hendzel Studio, 2020.

Images: Photography in Thames-Side Studios' Photography Studio (Unit 8, TB-21) by Douglas Pulman aka @notthatkindoffilm