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The commissioning process

Commissioning a piece of furniture should not be daunting: it should be pleasurable.

You don’t have to know what you want. That is, you have to know what you need the thing to do for you, and where you might put it: function is important, even if, sometimes, the main function may be just to look attractive. (Furniture does, after all, furnish a room.) But you don’t have to be able to visualise it as a piece of furniture, know what shape it should be, what wood it should be made of.

Commissioning need not follow a set pattern, but, for a private individual approaching one designer-maker, wanting to procure an item of furniture from him, the process would  normally be something like this. I would visit you to discuss the commission and see how you live and where the piece of furniture is to go. We would look at examples of my work, which may have little direct relevance to what you need, but your reaction helps me design for you. We may discuss a budget at this stage, but it is important to do so in the context of specific examples or proposals. Commissioned furniture cannot be cheap, but it is good value. I aim to produce something that you will appreciate and that will outlast both of us, but I do not encourage you to think of it in terms of an investment. 

I return with a proposal: sketches or drawings and an indication of likely cost, which we discuss. The design may need amendment or reworking. Once we have settled on an approach I work it up in detailed drawings, material samples and a firm price. Normally until this point you have not incurred any commitment or cost, (though there are some circumstances where design fees are appropriate), but when things are agreed at this stage I ask you for half payment in advance, with the balance due on completion (unless, for a larger piece, stage payments are agreed at fixed points during the making). The price will not change unless we agree to significant changes in design or materials. Whilst the piece is being made you are welcome to come and see it at any point. Finally I deliver it, fit it if necessary and tell you how to look after it. • Blog: news, items for sale, links