News

November - a good month for awards

November - a good month for awards

November 2011

Following on the success of the Botanic Institute, November proved to be a good month for Luke Hughes® products. The range of furniture for the office HQ of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts was designed in collaboration with Ian Ritchie Architects and was chosen as a finalist in the FX Office Furniture category for 2011.

The furniture scope includes meeting tables, integrated lighting, desks and storage units made in a combination of glass and shot-peened stainless-steel.

http://www.ianritchiearchitects.co.uk
http://www.sfct.org.uk
http://www.lukehughes.co.uk/index.php/about/news_year/2010/#sainsbury








Sainsbury Laboratory architect wins Gold Award

Sainsbury Laboratory architect wins Gold Award

November 2011

On 15 November, at the Building Design Architect of the Year Awards, Stanton Williams were awarded Architect of the Year Gold Award. Project architect, Gavin Henderson commented ‘the judges commented that the two projects in our submission were “..two of the most impressive buildings built in the UK over the past 12 months.” The awards clearly reflect more than just our input as architects, but the skill, commitment and dedication of the whole Project Team!’ Alan Stanton wrote ‘thanks so much for the vital contribution in the furniture’.

Luke Hughes® was appointed to work closely with Stanton Williams to design and procure all the furniture, most of which is bespoke. The project has been a perfect example of one of the tenets of Luke Hughes’s design philosophy, that in any quality building, the connection between the architecture and the furniture should be seamless. The contract was worth almost £750K.

http://www.gatsby.org.uk/
http://www.sfct.org.uk
http://www.stantonwilliams.com/
http://www.bdonline.co.uk/events/architect-of-the-year/aya-2011








Opening the school library debate.

Opening the school library debate.

October 2011

The newly refurbished Cripps Library at Oundle School was formally opened on 31 October by Mr Robert Cripps.

Plans for the Library refurbishment began four years ago, followed by a successful fundraising campaign launched at the Grocers’ Hall in March 2010 which exceeded targets.

Work completed included the replacement of most of the original steel work in the mezzanine, the relocation of the stairs, the installation of a new heating system designed by Max Fordham, and new lighting designed by Sutton-Vane Associates.

The new library design has increased reader spaces, added more shelf capacity and improved access to IT (see News story for October 2011). The design has created the impression of a bigger space, but has also provided more privacy for reading and work.

The opening prompted some debate about libraries in a digital age. The libraries of thirty years ago conjure up the image of a hushed and whispery environment.  Nowadays libraries are a welcoming dynamic environment – compatible with modern technology and users are encouraged to use DVDs, talking books and online resources.  Though technology should never be a replacement for books, Philip Pullman was recently quoted in the Telegraph, saying that “using the internet is like looking at a landscape through a keyhole”, a learner is hugely limited when they choose only to read what Google or Wikipedia lets them find. Content aside, technology is far less reliable than a book.  Google only works with an internet connection, and a laptop only works with a charged battery.  Luke Hughes, the CEO of Luke Hughes®, who have designed and made furniture for sixteen major institutional libraries including the Cambridge University Library, the Institute of Criminology Christ Church College, Oxford and other major school libraries including Harrow, Giggleswick, Bryanston and Stowe, says “If the equipment fails, the knowledge evaporates.  Not so with books.”
Luke Hughes has noted that a refurbishment of a library can expect to encourage an increase in usage by 300% - a remarkable figure.  Anne Jarvis, University Librarian, Cambridge University, expressed her views about the importance of libraries for learning and development. ‘The best school libraries teach research skills, support teaching and help students develop essential literacy skills which will enable current and future students to approach the opportunities afforded by new technology for further learning and research with a sense of excitement rather than fear.”

www.oundleschool.org.uk/news/newsItem.php?id=858

www.sva.co.uk/index.asp

http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/management/








Verey Gallery hosts its first exhibition

Verey Gallery hosts its first exhibition

September 2011

The Verey Gallery at Eton College was officially opened on 24 September 2011 by the Provost of Eton, Lord Waldegrave.

Luke Hughes® designed the overall concept for the space and all the gallery furniture, including fibre-optic display cases that are capable of being wheeled through a medieval door and stored in the adjoining rooms.

The new gallery was largely funded by David Verey, a former Chairman of the Tate Gallery. The first exhibition, entitled ‘Connections’, is curated by Stephen Feeke and Lady Bessborough, from the Roche Court Gallery; they have brought together a network of threads connecting ‘a rich, though rather eccentric collection of great breadth’. On display are objects from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome alongside work of well-known, more recent artists such as Sean Scully, Richard Hamilton, Anthony Gorss, Paul Nash, Patrick Caulfield, Barbara Hepworth and William Scott.

The Provost paid tribute to the design of the new gallery, lamenting the fact that until it was opened, there was a severe lack of modern, museum quality, exhibition space. David Verey, retiring in 2012 after a long and distinguished service as a Fellow, made the point that ‘the Eton College collections are as special as you would expect them to be from an institution which is 500 years old. It is important that they should be celebrated from time to time by expertly curated shows which delight the eye and tell the story of the objects themselves’

The opening of the Austen Leigh corridor alongside School Hall, will follow shortly. This restored gallery space will house the Peyton collection of modern ceramics, assembled by the former MP, John Peyton. The display cases have also been designed and supplied by Luke Hughes®.

Eton College www.etoncollege.com
Roche Court www.sculpture.uk.com








Luke Hughes Kew Palace furniture in BBC documentary

Luke Hughes Kew Palace furniture in BBC documentary

September 2011

The furniture of Luke Hughes® featured in historian Dr Lucy Worsley’s BBC4 documentary ‘Elegance and Decadence: The Age of Regency’ in September. Dr Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, was looking at how the Prince Regent was obsessed with outdoing Napoleon not on the battlefield, but in opulence, bling and monumental architecture. His father, George III, was more modest in his domestic living arrangements and preferred the understatement of the domestic architecture of Kew Palace.

The programme featured the interactive reading tables in the Study Room at Kew Palace. The first phase of the new furniture was originally commissioned in 2006, prior to the reopening of the palace in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen. The study furniture, combining interactive technology in this dedicated research room, followed and was finally installed in January 2008. One of Luke Hughes’ Classic Chair designs, the Folio, was chosen for the seating.

Luke Hughes® also designed and made a new demountable dining table, capable of displaying an exhibition of Georgian table-ware, converting into a conference table but equally capable of being packed on to a trolley and hidden under the main stairs.

In the last ten years, Luke Hughes® has also provided intelligent furniture solutions at the Tower of London, Hampton Court, Holyrood Palace, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

http://www.lucyworsley.com/home.html
http://www.hrp.org.uk
http://www.tv-replay.co.uk/elegance-and-decadence-the-age-of-the-regency/








Oundle School Library impresses teenagers!

Oundle School Library impresses teenagers!

September 2011

The refurbishment of the library at Oundle School was completed prior to the start of the Michaelmas term. Luke Hughes and Company was appointed earlier in the year to upgrade the former gymnasium into a state-of-the art information retrieval centre for the whole school.

Designing library furniture has become a major part of the expertise of Luke Hughes®. Previous major academic library projects include the Supreme Courts of both London and Edinburgh, the Institute of Criminology in Cambridge, Pembroke College and Peterhouse (both in Cambridge) not to mention St Hugh’s College, Keble College, Brasenose College and Christ Church (all in Oxford). Other major school libraries include Harrow, Bedford, Giggleswick, Charterhouse, Bryanston and Stowe - to name a few.

Luke Hughes notes that “Over the years, far from seeing the demise of the book in favour of electronic media, every library refurbishment has led to a massive rise in the usage of the relevant library, sometimes by as much as 300%. I expect the same for Oundle School.”

Initial comments from the librarian?  “Everyone is very impressed with the library. The pupils say it “looks much more like a proper library”. They think it is very sophisticated, and walk around in awe. It takes a lot to impress a teenager!”

Oundle School is due to hold a formal re-dedication of the library at the end of October.

http://www.oundleschool.org.uk/academic/library.php








Opening of TS Eliot Lecture Theatre, Merton College, Oxford

Opening of TS Eliot Lecture Theatre, Merton College, Oxford

June 2011

Folding tables, lecterns, chairs, AV-integrated boardroom tables and select foyer elements made up the furniture for this new college lecture theatre, specially designed by Luke Hughes and Company.

The building has been carefully blended into the south side of the original 1930s Rose Lane accommodation block and is the most recent building to be opened in the College’s 750-year history. The theatre offers the college state-of-the-art facilities for up to 140 conference delegates. There are three seminar rooms and a large foyer area for circulation and break-out. The foyer has a single piece of furniture, a large plank of Indian Laurel left in a largely raw state, which floats from the wall under the bust of TS Eliot; it also conceals strip LED lighting.

The TS Eliot Lecture Theatre is now an outstanding venue with all the latest technology, style and comfort.  The furniture is integral to making the architecture work, in style as much as in performance. The college is delighted that income from the use of its facilities has risen significantly since the new conference facilities were opened.

Luke Hughes and Company designed all the loose furniture for the lecture theatre and seminar rooms, working in close collaboration with the architects under Graham Blackburn of Ridge consultants and the college bursars, John Gloag and Douglas Bamber. The oak panelling, with sophisticated acoustic treatment, was made by Applied Shopfitting Ltd, with specialist advice from Arup Acoustics.

Luke Hughes and Company has now been working with the college on special projects for more than 20 years.

Ridge and Partners www.ridge.co.uk
Merton College, Oxford www.merton.ox.ac.uk
Applied Shopfitting (Devon) www.appliedshopfilling.co.uk
A Edmonds & Co Ltd (Joinery) www.edmonds.co.uk









Sainsbury Botanic Institute opened by the Queen

Sainsbury Botanic Institute opened by the Queen

June 2011

The new Sainsbury Botanic Institute was formally opened by HM the Queen on 27 April 2011. The new building, designed by Stanton Williams, is built in the Botanic Gardens of Cambridge University and comprises a 11,000 square metre plant science research centre - future home to 120 scientists and 30 support staff dedicated to discovering precisely how plant diversity arises and evolves.

The design reconciles complex scientific requirements with the need for a building - one that also responds to its landscape and provides a collegiate, stimulating environment for research and collaboration. The building comprises laboratories, support areas, meeting spaces, the University’s herbarium as well as a new public café and seminar room.

Luke Hughes and Company was appointed to work closely with the architects to design and procure all the furniture, most of which is bespoke. The project has been a perfect example of one of the tenets of Luke Hughes’s design philosophy, that in any quality building, the connection between the architecture and the furniture should be seamless.

Lord Sainsbury said
“This is one of the most exciting projects with which my Charitable Foundation has been involved. It combines an inspirational research programme, an historic site in the Botanic Garden and a beautiful laboratory designed by Stanton Williams, and I believe it will become a world-class centre.”

Professor John Parker, the recently retired Director of the Botanic Garden, said:
“The Garden looks forward in the 21st Century to maintaining its position with the study of plant diversity in the most modern way. The Laboratory will be dedicated to the advancement of curiosity-driven research. However it is hard to imagine that increasing our knowledge of the fundamental mechanisms of plant development is not going to have a very significant impact on the improvement of agriculture in years to come.”

Alan Stanton, director at Stanton Williams said:
“This has been an extraordinary opportunity for us to design a cutting-edge scientific research institute on a very unique site”.

The £69million project was funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. Luke Hughes and Company also supplied all the bespoke furniture for the private offices of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts (working with Ian Ritchie Architects and the Institute for Government, also funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.

http://www.gatsby.org.uk/
http://www.sfct.org.uk
http://www.stantonwilliams.com/








State-of-the-art library for Oundle School

State-of-the-art library for Oundle School

May 2011

Oundle School has appointed Luke Hughes and Company to redesign the interior of the library. The building, a former gymnasium, was originally built in the 1930s and converted into a library in the 1980s, in a somewhat rudimentary style. Technology has moved on, as has the retrievability of electronic material, but there is no doubt that libraries are still at the heart of all learning institutions.

Inspired by the notion that, in an ideal world, all teaching should be in a library…the aim of the refurbishment is to allow the library to support changing styles of teaching and learning, with areas for quiet study, spaces for individual and group work, and rooms for instruction. Enhanced provision for electronic resources will be a priority, as will the book collection, which remains central to the library.

The plans significantly increase shelf capacity, reader spaces and computer workstations, and will also improve lighting and better display the school’s collection of rare books, valuable Greek pots and archive material.

Luke Hughes has been working closely with the Librarian, Leigh Giurlando, to come up with proposals that are designed to be attractive and welcoming and to inspire inquiry, discovery and reflection.

Work commenced in April, and is expected to be complete before the Michaelmas term.

http://www.oundleschool.org.uk/academic/library.php








‘... a stunning addition to the beauty of the Cathedral.’

‘... a stunning addition to the beauty of the Cathedral.’

May 2011

On Easter Day, the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt. Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, consecrated a new altar and dedicated new furniture for the Venerable Chapel, a beautiful and intimate location for daily Morning Prayer in the Cathedral.

The story of the refurbishment of the Venerable Chapel begins in 2007. The main inspiration grew from the Cathedral’s decision to commission a new altar-piece from artist Rachel Schwalm, an artist working in stone, marble dust and pigment (colour in its purest form). Its Arts and Exhibitions Consultant Sophie Hacker felt Schwalm’s pigmented inserts would translate beautifully into an altar, while the artist says of her work that her intention is ‘to leave a door open to the imagination so that viewers can create their own reality out of my layered fragments of colour’.

The resulting altar, a collaboration between Schwalm and Luke Hughes and Company, incorporates a glazed window mirroring the chapel’s architecture, beneath which a blue pigment surface connects the viewer with the sky beyond, while discreet LED lighting inserted in a small aperture lends the altar a luminous quality. Two vertical chalk lines in the panel echo the proportions of the chapel window’s stone mullions immediately above the altar. The chalk lines are then continued above and below by v-cuts in the stone. This provides a direct yet subtle link between the sky and the panel.

The altar was cut at the famous workshops at Carrara in Italy using stone from a warm, honeyed seam of Jerusalem Gold limestone.

Luke Hughes and Company also designed the new benches and desks in the Chapel, which emphasise the clean lines of the altar and blend with the classical memorials which fill the walls. The blue sycamore inlay on the facing of the benches connects with the blues of Schwalm’s panel.

The Dean of Winchester is delighted by the result. ‘The altar in the Venerable Chapel is a stunning addition to the beauty of the Cathedral. It is important that we can celebrate contemporary excellence in a living and thriving Cathedral. This commission sustains the lively partnership between the arts and faith, so evident in our magnificent building, as a present reality.’


http://winchester-cathedral.org.uk/2011/05/10/new-altar-for-venerable-chapel
http://rachelschwalm.com/index.asp








Historic Meeting at Mercers’ Hall

Historic Meeting at Mercers’ Hall

April 2011

On 19 March, the Worshipful Company of Mercers, in the heart of the City of London, hosted a historic event - the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the Mercers Hall in 1941. As a mark of respect, Sir Winston Churchill was later clothed in the Livery of the Company at a ceremony held in April 1945, in the presence of the Masters of the Twelve Great Livery companies, amidst the ruined shell of the bombed-out Mercers’ Hall.

Lady Soames, Churchill’s daughter, was present at the anniversary and unveiled a newly acquired bronze bas-relief of Churchill’s head by the sculptor, Oscar Nemon. It is believed the bronze was the maquette for the head used on the commemorative crown produced by the Royal Mint at the time of his death in 1965. Also present were the sons (David and Shane) of two Field Marshals, Montgomery and Alexander. Both men are Liverymen of the Mercers Company, as were their fathers. One Liveryman was heard to remark ‘relations are probably now somewhat more cordial, between the descendants, than they ever were between their forebears!’

Luke Hughes and Company designed and made the mounting of the bas-relief, together with all the new gallery display-cases in the Ambulatory. Luke Hughes has been the lead design-consultant in the recent refurbishment of both the chapel and the Ambulatory.

                                            * * * * * *

Left to right: 2nd Earl Alexander of Tunis, Lady Soames and 2nd Viscount Montgomery of Alamein with the current Master of the Mercers, David Clementi








Technology meets nature at Lime Wood

Technology meets nature at Lime Wood

April 2011

Luke Hughes and Company have designed a suite of luxurious relaxation beds in limed American white oak for the new concept spa at the Lime Wood Hotel.  Set deep in an ancient forest near Lyndhurst, Lime Wood seeks to offer effortless luxury amid a ‘fusion of heritage and fresh design’. 

The beds feature an innovative integrated iPod docking station, sleekly and discreetly embedded into the bed frame.

Natasha Woodbridge, Luke Hughes and Company’s Customer Manager (Spa and Hotels) described the design challenge at Lime Wood:

“Each spa wants to offer a unique experience to their guests.  So furniture must not only be of the highest quality – which means top class materials, practical finishes, designs that work -  but should also enhance the surrounding architecture and decor.  This means working imaginatively to adapt design concepts to fit the space.

In this case the client wanted a light and natural feel to reflect the forest surroundings.  So we recommended American white oak for its pale colour and grain characteristics, then limed it to produce the distinctive creamy colour which is offset by the brushed steel of the lights and control plates.”








Removing chairs, replacing with stackable benches: All Saints, Carshalton, Surrey

Removing chairs, replacing with stackable benches: All Saints, Carshalton, Surrey

April 2011

Luke Hughes and Company designed and installed panelling and cupboards for the vestry as well as supplying Charterhouse stacking pews which had a shelf under the seat for hassocks. The Revd Dr John Thewlis is the incumbent priest of All Saints and the following is an extract from an article he wrote in Pews, Benches and Chairs publication by the Ecclesiological Society.

Our medieval church was extended and enlarged between 1894 and 1914, but money ran out before the seating could be tackled. Routine Victorian pitch-pine benches were adapted for the aisles, and two different styles of even more routine chairs filled the nave. Three years ago we decided to do something about it. We resisted upholstery, and went for stackable oak benches.

We have found that benches are more adaptable than any chair. They allow a congregation to expand and contract in a very natural way. It is easy to huddle together on a bench, which is good for families and schoolchildren. It is also easy, unobtrusively and perhaps unconsciously, to gain a little extra space without making a big issue of it. Two people on a bench gives a much better visual message than two people in a row of seats. Big congregations look bigger - five-seaters at a pinch will accommodate seven, at least in summer.

The flexibility of benches is as great as chairs, but different. Benches can go in squares, octagons, and longitudinally down a nave or along a table. We move them with ease - one man can easily move them, using a dedicated trolley - and can stack them temporarily or semi-permanently. Though they are not fixed, there are no worries about their stability; it is easy and natural to grab on to them when you stand up. Unlike many chairs they are safe for children: firm to stand on next to their parents, presenting rounded edges and having far fewer gaps to get stuck in or fall through.

Benches look good. Instead of an astonishingly complex tangle of uprights, the immediate impression is of calm, clear lines. They present a better theology. Shared seating echoes our membership of one body, and the fact we are branches of a single vine, much better than lines of rigidly individualistic chairs. Their workmanship and materials involve a greater initial outlay, but they represent a better investment. Their construction is simpler, and they will last much longer. It has also to be said that even adequate chairs never come cheap.

And they are comfortable. We were at pains to provide kneelers that could double as cushions. Astonishingly, no member of our congregation - not even the most infirm - has made use of them
for anything other than kneeling. Being wooden, benches are easily kept clean. The modern child seems to come to worship (experto crede) equipped with fruit juice, raisins and bubblegum - ruination to cushions and carpets, but shrugged off by wood.

Benches have released our church interior for all sorts of adaptations. Proof of the pudding, though, is really on the ordinary days, when the lines of the building can be experienced as the architects intended, without a stuttering congeries of chairs.

We are really pleased with our decision.

The Revd Dr John Thewlis, Incumbent of All Saints










Furniture Making in Covent Garden – taking forward the legacy

Furniture Making in Covent Garden – taking forward the legacy

March 2011

This year, we celebrate our thirtieth anniversary of moving to Covent Garden. We have already exceeded the number of years that Thomas Chippendale lived and worked in London. At the time when the popular cabinet maker and furniture designer flourished, there were then nearly 200 cabinet-making workshops in Covent Garden, within half a mile of here. In today’s Covent Garden, we are alone. We are even one of the longest established businesses in the area.

Chippendale, born in Otley, Yorkshire, in 1718, moved to Conduit Court, off Long Acre, in 1749; then to Somerset Court, off the Strand, in 1752, and finally (after a little capital support by James Rannie), to 60-62 St Martin’s Lane, in 1754. He died in 1779. Like many of the architects and painters of his era, he made an impressive cultural contribution to the age in which he lived,

It happens that the context of that age was conditioned by a massive building programme for aristocratic houses, town and country, designed by great architects, commissioned by patrons who were both rich and vain. Our age happens to be preoccupied with the reservicing of many of those very same buildings for the ‘heritage industry’. Some modern patrons may still need to strut a little; corporate patrons especially seem to need to ‘send messages’ through their architecture and their furnishings. Long may they continue to do so, not just for their posterity but also for our own!








Designing and working with hardwoods - Luke Hughes speaking in India

Designing and working with hardwoods - Luke Hughes speaking in India

February 2011

Luke Hughes travels to Mumbai and Bangalore next week to address leading architects and designers.  The invitation follows his visits to Sydney and Brisbane in 2008, the UAE in 2009 and Melbourne and Auckland in 2010 and forms part of a series of international talks about designing with sustainable hardwoods.

Having designed furniture for over 30 years Luke is uniquely placed to share his expertise and the trends, characteristics and species available.  His talk will demonstrate how versatile American hardwood can produce long-lasting and beautiful pieces.  Since many of his projects are designed to last 50-100 years he will challenge designers to carefully consider the real life-cycle costing of interior fit-outs.

He will share the platform with Bob Sabistina, an expert on the American Hardwood industry and, particularly, the importance of grading.

During the seminars Luke will meet Indian architects working in the expanding Middle and Far Eastern markets where Luke Hughes and Company’s quality British designs are in demand.  The company established a reputation in Asia through its award winning designs on prestigious spa projects such as the Peninsula Hotels in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Bangkok, Edition in Istanbul and the Address, Dubai.

The seminars are sponsored by the American Hardwoods Export Council http://www.americanhardwood.org with whom Luke has worked for many years, actively supporting their work promoting the use of sustainable timber.

Luke hopes to update us with news from India on our blog at www.lukehhughes.co.uk








Luke Hughes designs dramatic Holy Table for St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Luke Hughes designs dramatic Holy Table for St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

February 2011

Luke Hughes and Company are proud to have designed a dramatic new Holy Table to sit in the central sanctuary, right at the heart of the 1000 year old St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.  The striking Table, made from a solid block of brilliant white Carrara marble set on a raised bed of contrasting black Nero Marquinhia steps, is bounded by the Cathedrals 12th century sandstone pillars.  Its shape and position at the crossing reflect some of the earliest altars in the Christian church.

The design challenge was enormous; the positioning and importance deeply understood.  It required a strong and definite statement to hold the gathering of people and worship together while being endowed with sufficient strength, beauty and significance to stand in its own right, unadorned with cross, cloths or frontals, candles or flowers. It was to speak clearly of its function not only as the Table for Holy Communion but also as the permanent sign of, and aid to, the offering of prayer, both for congregations at services and for individual visitors at any time.

After considerable design work and lengthy discussions with the Cathedral a design was chosen which envisaged a single marble cube, hovering in the space, relying for impact on its geometric proportions, the materials, lighting and its surface treatment.

The stone was cut, polished and textured in the italian workshop of Bertozi Felice, under the supervision of Mauro Rovai. It took many man-hours of painstaking craftsmanship, with one man using a single diamond tipped chisel, to achieve the beautiful bush hammered effect on the vertical faces.

St Giles’ Cathedral

As the High Kirk of Edinburgh, the 1000 year old Cathedral has been at the heart of the city’s religious life for at least a thousand years. St Giles’ is Edinburgh’s ‘town church’ and as such host to the annual Kirking of the City Council and other civic and national events.  A living church with an active congregation, it is host to some 400,000 visitors every year.

A re-ordering of the Cathedral furniture had radically positioned the Holy Table at the crossing, under the crown tower. The re-ordering was first trialled in the 1980s, using a temporary arrangement of a wooden box covered with cloths. The new Table replaces that box with a more permanent structure. VIEW YouTube VIDEO








Princess Royal attends dedication of Luke Hughes designed Holy Table

Princess Royal attends dedication of Luke Hughes designed Holy Table

February 2011

On 26 January 2011 more than 500 people from Scotland and overseas gathered for a special Service of Thanksgiving in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal. During the service a new Holy Table designed by Luke Hughes was dedicated.  St Giles’ is celebrating the culmination of three decades of work to restore the near 900-year-old church to its full beauty.

Attending were some of the many hundreds of people and organisations who have helped to fund the restoration, as well as architects, engineers and craftsmen who have worked on the church over the past dozen years. Guests included Luke Hughes and Polly Phipps representing Luke Hughes and Company and Roger A Lindsay, Baron of Craighall, a Scots resident of Toronto, who had presented the communion table to the Cathedral, through The Scottish Church Trust of Canada.

In addition to the Holy Table and at a cost of £7 million, the Cathedral’s restoration included a sophisticated new lighting scheme which creates different moods inside the church and reveals the medieval vaulting and carved stone detail that was lost in shadow, an improved entrance at the West Door finished with contemporary stained glass doors and a metal screen designed by Icelandic artist Leifur Breidfjord, and careful restoration of an array of stained glass windows, most of them made in Edinburgh in the 19th century.

The Minister, Gilleasbuig Macmillan, said: 
“A national treasure such as St Giles’ will always need the support of generous people.  But this is an appropriate time to thank all those who contributed to and continue to support this great work of renovation. The congregation at this afternoon’s service encompasses a wide spectrum of Scottish life and demonstrates how this Cathedral has sat so centrally in the community throughout our history.“








The search for a pristine white marble block

The search for a pristine white marble block

February 2011

Luke Hughes ‘single marble cube’ design for St Giles’ Cathedral Holy Table relied on finding a 4 tonne single pristine block of impeccable quality and without flaws.

The search began at an abandoned quarry on the beach of Iona where Columba first landed in the 6th century to re-introduce Christianity to the British Isles; sadly, most of the surviving blocks there had been too badly weathered since they were first quarried before the First World War. Eventually, a brilliant white marble was found in a quarry near Carrara in Italy, very close to one used in the 16th Century by Michelangelo. Even then it was a challenge to find a block of such great size and quality without flaws.








Installing a Luke Hughes designed 9.6 tonne Holy Table in St Giles’ Cathedral Edinburgh

Installing a Luke Hughes designed 9.6 tonne Holy Table in St Giles’ Cathedral Edinburgh

February 2011

Designing a Holy Table for a building as ancient as St Giles’ is one endeavour; equally vexing was the installation of the huge block of marble which, with the supporting steps, weighs 9.6 tonnes. It needed to be not only transported from the quarry in Italy, but also conveyed into the Cathedral and through the nave over medieval subterranean vaults.

Many issues needed careful thought: how would the lifting straps be removed when such a massive block was placed on its steps without leaving unseemly gaps? One solution - borrowed from renaissance sculptors -  might have been to use giant ice cubes; the block is lowered onto the ice, the straps removed and, as the ice melts, the block slowly lowers itself into position. In the end a 21st century crane delicately placed the block on its dias precisely under the central tower.  This exercised structural engineer Bryan Edie (from Arup) and the cathedral architect, Graham Tristram. The stonemason who carried out the site works was Nic Boyes, with assistance from one of the stonemasons from Carara.

Related news articles
New Holy Table has been designed - June 2009
Luke Hughes visits Carrara - August 2012
Luke Hughes designs dramatic Holy Table - 2011
The search for a pristine white marble block - 2011
Princess Royal attends dedication of Luke Hughes designed Holy Table - 2011

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh project profile
St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh youtube video








Contemporary Art in British Churches

Contemporary Art in British Churches

January 2011

A new book entitled ‘Contemporary Art in British Churches’ edited by Laura Moffatt and Eileen Daly features the work and views of Luke Hughes.

The author and contributors examine how, from hydroponically grown vines to traditional oil painting, contemporary artists are making a visible and profound impact on British churches today. It seeks to understand the impetus for such resurgence and considers some of the practical, theological and aesthetic issues.

Luke’s contribution describes how creating furniture for a church community differs from working in a domestic or commercial space, and how the production process differs when working in a consecrated space. Liturgical spaces really matter to the communities who use them and the design of the furnishings can have a profound effect on the life of the building, sometimes for generations to come. For a furniture designer the commissioning process is therefore less about designing or making objects and more about helping a congregation run a major community building, albeit one that may be steeped in history, sentiment and splendour.  Poor design can destroy the sense of the numinous; the challenge is to enhance it. Great commissions come from creative collaborations between artists, designers, craftsmen, clergy, congregations and committees – a process that, at its best, can be intoxicating.

‘Contemporary Art in British Churches’ has been published by Art & Christianity Enquiry on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Commission – an exhibition of contemporary art in British churches’ at Wallspace, London EC2.

Other artists and designers who have contributed or are featured include
Shirazeh Houshiary (St Martin in the Fields), Victoria Rance (St Laurence’s, Catford), Alison Watt (Old St Paul’s Church, Edinburgh) Christopher Le Brun (Liverpool Anglican Cathedral), Tracey Emin (Liverpool Anglican Cathedral), Susanna Heron (Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral), Mark Cazalet (Chelmsford Cathedral), Rona Smith (The Lumen Centre, Bloomsbury, London), Anthony Caro (L’Eglise Saint-Jean Baptiste a Bourbourg), Tom Phillips (Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral), Chris Gollon (St John on Bethnal Green, London), Emily Young (Salisbury Cathedral), Stephen Cox (Canterbury Cathedral).







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Yearly archive

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2003

2002