Luke Hughes and Company, recent news

Luke Hughes at Leighton House Museum; bespoke sideboard

Experts in Conversation: Luke Hughes at Leighton House Museum

April 2018

On Wednesday 9 May, join founder Luke Hughes at the Leighton House Museum to celebrate London Craft Week 2018.

Luke and Senior Curator Daniel Robbins will discuss how the Luke Hughes team created a copy of Lord Leighton’s original dining room sideboard. This promises to be a fascinating talk on design and craft.

9 May 12:30 - 13:30
Booking necessary, £9

Leighton House Museum
12 Holland Park Road
W14 8LZ

Click here to learn more and book your ticket.

New altar and furnishings installed at Ely Cathedral

February 2018

On Sunday 28 January 2018, the Luke Hughes team attended Ely Cathedral for the Candlemas Procession and Sung Eucharist, where Bishop Stephen consecrated the new Luke Hughes-designed Octagon altar and furnishings.

In the weeks preceding, our specialist team expertly installed the furniture on-site, including the dais & altar with communion rails, clergy chairs, congregational fronts and choir stall sets. 

Explore more of our Places of Worship projects. 


Luke Hughes lectures in USA

January 2018

In December 2017 the Luke Hughes team visited the USA, where founder Luke Hughes presented two lectures on 'Designing with Timber' in partnership with our dealers EvensonBest and ORI. In attendance were architects, designers and students. 

The first lecture took place at Edward P. Evans Hall, Yale School of Management, followed by the Knoll New York Showroom.

Drawing on 25 years of lessons learned designing bespoke furniture for notable institutions including Oxford, Cambridge and 28 international cathedrals, Luke covered key technical considerations and ecological issues in timber design with a focus on American and European hardwoods. 

Yale School of Management  Luke Hughes lectures on timber design in USA

Luke Hughes lectures on timber design in USA

Luke Hughes lectures on timber design in USA

Luke Hughes lectures on timber design in USA

Luke Hughes lectures on timber design in USA

Image credit: Johnny Perez

Knoll New York Showroom

Luke Hughes lectures on timber design in USA

Luke Hughes lectures on timber design in USA

Luke Hughes lectures on timber design in USA

If you are interested in one of our specials CPDs relating to furniture design and architecture, please get in touch with our London studio: 

+44 (0)20 7404 5995


Luke Hughes team

Year in Review: 2017

December 2017


The finishing touches are added to the High School Library at Keystone Academy, Beijing, entirely designed by the Luke Hughes team. We were first commissioned in January 2016, with the brief to create a modern library space that finely blends eastern and western aesthetics and sensibilities with a reflection of the 21st century. The design team came up with a concept that evolved from their extensive involvement with other libraries around the world, creating an academic experience that embodies the spirit of this new Chinese international school. 


The team completed a commission for one of London's major tourist attractions - the Tower of London. Our task was to completely refurnish the interior of the Chapel of St. John and to strike a balance between evoking the building's original liturgical purpose and making it fit to receive nearly three million tourists annually. Originally commissioned by William the Conqueror as a private place to pray with his family and take communion, the small Romanesque chapel was one of the first Norman buildings completed after the conquest. Architecturally, it is amongst the most important ecclesiastical spaces in Europe.


The new Leathersellers' Hall in the City of London held its official opening event. In attendance was Nigel Shepherd, COO of Luke Hughes (pictured above, second from the right), who talked through the nuances of the design with HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. Working with Eric Parry Architects, the Luke Hughes team was commissioned to design and manufacture a new court table and library furniture. In addition the company's historic Livery Hall dining furniture was refurbished, and the original mahogany dining tables re-engineered.


The team moved into a new home at 7 Savoy Court. After 36 years at the original studio and workshop on Drury Lane, an ever growing team and increased international focus led to the need for a larger premises. Watch this space for the official opening of our showroom in 2018.


Benjamin Franklin College, one of two new residential colleges to open at Yale University in the last fifty years, is officially dedicated. Designed in the Collegiate Gothic style by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the Luke Hughes team designed and manufactured fitting dining hall furniture to seat 350. This included our Wykeham chairs and bespoke dining tables.


The Luke Hughes team is appointed to design all the new furniture for St Machar's Cathedral in Aberdeen, as part of a major refurbishment. This marks our 24th cathedral project, and is planned for completion in May 2018.

Starting a project? Get in touch with one of our furniture consultants.



Craft's place in post-Brexit Britain

Craft’s place in post-Brexit Britain

November 2017

In 1999 I gave a lecture at the Royal Society of Arts, in which I envisaged a model of 'virtual production' through loose associations of small workshops and craft practitioners. It was subsequently published, in part, in Crafts no. 163, March/April 2000 (and again in no. 230, May/June 2011), and the nub of it was as follows:

There persists in the world of crafts some deep-seated prejudices about "industry", which, for more than a century, have got in the way of economic logic. However, the intellectual approach of modern designer-craft practitioners to their work has seen some seismic changes, and the effect of recent changes in industry, technology, markets and distribution have been equally radical [...] Perhaps by better understanding these processes and showcasing examples, we can stimulate a craft-led renaissance in British manufacturing.

The reason for the lecture? After six frustrating years sitting on its board of trustees, I was much exercised about what the Crafts Council was for, how it could justify receiving public funds without proving economic relevance. 

I concluded: 'Who cares? [The crafts should] not just be about the occupation of the elderly in future years or even providing some spice to our aesthetic lives, some "pepper and salt" to our visual culture. It is also about employment and prosperity in a post-industrial world. There is a danger of thinking manufacturing has no place in our future. This is palpably nonsense. Industry has just become more complex. With emerging industries in the Far East, it is clear we cannot compete on price, so there is only one option, [to] add value through quality. For that we clearly need the craftsmen-designers, we need the small producers and we need them to be able to find each other.'

Eighteen years on, they can indeed now find each other easily, thanks to the formidable speed of change in technology and communications. The internet and computer-aided design were in their infancy, as were digital cameras and the ability to instantly transmit images around the world; smartphones did not exist, nor did Skype, FaceTime or the ability to make cheap visual contact across the globe. 

More recently, the evolution of 3D printing has meant that model making has been transformed (dramatically accelerating development times) and can be harnessed to make actual products themselves. Nevertheless, in my view, the role of the craft practitioner remains as vital as ever. In the immortal words of Gordon Russell, 'the problem about machines is you must teach them manners'. Craft practitioners are best placed to do this. 

Earlier this year Luke Hughes and Company completed a library project for Keystone Academy (pictured below), a Chinese school in Beijing. It was seen as critical in extending the school's cultural identity while projecting its ethos as a Chinese institution with an international flavour. It involved 24 tonnes of furniture, produced by over 20 suppliers, all predominately small (less than 10 employees), 85 per cent in the UK. The project was worth over £1 million and everything was designed, developed, manufactured and dispatched within four months. It involved the combined design talents of my team as well as the work of six other artists and designers, including bronze sculpture by Jill Watson (pictured below) and Lydia Segrave, letter-cutting by Caroline Webb and graphics by Brian Webb and Francis Carne.

Shipping that much furniture to China might seem like selling refrigerators to Greenland. Not so. To the client, the value lay in the whole offering being far greater than the sum of its parts - there is simply no way conventional manufacturers or distribution channels can offer such a rich talent of creativity, combined with the manufacturing knowledge and efficient delivery. Sure, it was a complex logistical operation, but one that reflected all the principals envisaged in that 1999 lecture.

The team has now delivered dozens of similar projects across the UK, the USA and Asia. As a post-Brexit world emerges, those embryonic ideas are now proven. There is hope for the crafts.

Luke Hughes

Originally published in Crafts no. 269, November/December 2017

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