News

Year in Review: 2017

Year in Review: 2017

December 2017

January 

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. 


March

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.


May

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.


June

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.


October

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.


December

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








Luke Hughes speaks at Dedication Ceremony for new Keystone Library

Luke Hughes speaks at Dedication Ceremony for new Keystone Library

October 2017

On October 15 2017, the official Dedication Ceremony for the newly opened Keystone Academy High School Library in Beijing took place. Guests enjoyed special guided tours of the library with founder and director Luke Hughes himself, and Kacy Song, the Director of Libraries. 

Luke was joined by Kacy to give a talk on the distinguished and unique library design. Also speaking was British writer Simon Winchester. 

Click to learn more about the concept and design for the library.









St Francis Church, The Engine Room officially opens

St Francis Church, The Engine Room officially opens

October 2017

This October, St Francis at The Engine Room in Tottenham, London was officially dedicated by the Bishop of Edmonton.

As London's newest purpose-built church in 40 years, designing a new bespoke altar for the space was a great honour.

Click to learn more.








Benjamin Franklin College dedicated by Yale University

Benjamin Franklin College dedicated by Yale University

October 2017

On Friday 6 October 2017, Yale University dedicated Benjamin Franklin College, one of two new residential colleges to open at Yale in fifty years. 

Designed in the Collegiate Gothic style by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, we designed and manufactured fitting dining hall furniture to seat 300. This included our Wykeham chairs and bespoke dining tables with removable tops, in solid oak. 

We look forward to completing more upcoming projects with Yale, including the refurbishment of the Manuscripts and Archives Room at the Sterling Memorial Library.

Learn more about our past international projects for education

Benjamin Franklin College, Yale University

Benjamin Franklin College, Yale University

 








Luke Hughes to speak at Keystone Academy Dedication Ceremony

Luke Hughes to speak at Keystone Academy Dedication Ceremony

October 2017

In early 2017, we completed work on the new high school library at Keystone Academy, Beijing.

On 15 October 2017, Company Founder Luke Hughes will speak at the official dedication ceremony about the design process, from the fascinating conceptual stages through to production and installation. He will be joined by Kacy Song, Director of Libraries. 

Keystone Academy on the library design:

‘The new library encapsulates the very spirit of the institution it represents through its blend of Eastern and Western aesthetics and creates a tangible learning environment and academic experience. The high quality and adaptable furniture help transform the space into a center conducive to gathering, learning, and growth.’








From the archives ... the Covent Garden workshop

From the archives ... the Covent Garden workshop

June 2017

In the early days of Luke Hughes, the Covent Garden workshop was so small that larger pieces of furniture had to be assembled in the back-streets outside. 

Here is one of a set of circular benches being made in 1987 for a shopping centre in Harrow, London (and they’re still there, thirty years later!). Pictured above are craftsmen Joss Skottowe (left) and Mark Adams (kneeling) and the team’s able administrator, Christian Jebb (behind).

The images come from the company’s vast archive of photos and drawings accumulated over the last four decades, only now the subject of a proper archive retrieval exercise.








Yale projects

Yale projects

June 2017

Luke Hughes is working on two new projects for Yale University, following the completion of the public area seating at Edward P. Evans Hall, Yale School of Management (working with Foster + Partners), furniture for the three dining halls at Yale-NUS College, Singapore (with PCP Architects) and furniture for Yale's Sterling Memorial Library (with Apicella + Bunton).

For the first project, we have designed new tables and chairs for a new Yale College with Robert Stern Architects, scheduled to open autumn 2017. 

The second project is the refurbishment of the Manuscripts and Archives Room at the Sterling Memorial Library, working again with the spirited design team at Apicella + Bunton. This will be completed at the end of 2017.

Yale University is well-known for its architectural heritage (including the famous 1960s Beinecke Library and other impressive buildings by Louis Kahn, Eero Saarinen, James Gamble Rogers, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, as well as the British architects, Norman Foster and Michael Hopkins).

Yale Museum also has one of the most impressive collections of furniture too - the American Decorative Arts Furniture Study - a working library of more than 1,100 of furniture and wooden objects from 17th-21st century.








A new home

A new home

June 2017

We have recently moved into our new home at 7 Savoy Court, right next to The Savoy Hotel and above Simpson's-in-the-Strand. 

Vacating our original studio and workshop on Drury Lane, after 36 years, has been an emotional wrench (we have probably been there far longer than any other furniture maker, even than Thomas Chippendale*) but now the company has so much international focus, we need larger premises.

Savoy Court has been the perfect fit. We moved in this May, and aim to have a new showroom area ready in time for an official opening in Autumn 2017.

Some interesting facts about our new location:

• Our neighbour, The Savoy Hotel, was built by Richard D’Oyly Carte in the 1880s (with profits from his productions of Gilbert and Sullivan opera productions) and was the first luxury London hotel. The site was initially the home of Count Peter of Savoy who built the original Savoy palace in 1263, and it is his gilded-bronze statue (sculpted by Frank Lynn-Jenkins in 1904 and mounted on the Art Deco canopy in 1929) that stands directly outside our windows (pictured).

• Savoy Court is the only named street in the UK where vehicles are required to drive on the right, a tradition that dates back to the days of the hackney carriage when a cab driver would reach his arm out of the driver’s door window to open the passenger’s door (which opened backwards and had the handle at the front) without having to get down from the cab.

*When he flourished, there were nearly 200 cabinet-making workshops within Covent Garden, within half a mile of here. He moved to his Covent Garden premises in Conduit Court, off Long Acre, in 1749 and to 60-62 St Martin’s Lane, in 1754. He was born in 1718, died in 1779. Next year will be his tercentenary of his birth.

 








RIBA National Awards 2017

RIBA National Awards 2017

June 2017

Out of six projects we were involved with that won various 2017 RIBA Regional Awards, four have now gone on to win a 2017 RIBA National Award. We extend our congratulations to the talented architectural teams, it has been a pleasure to collaborate with them.

Learn more about each project:

St Albans Abbey Cathedral 

 The Welding Institute 

 Leicester Cathedral's Richard III Project 'With Dignity and Honour' 

 The Berrow Foundation Building and New Garden Building, Lincoln College 

 








RIBA Regional Awards 2017

RIBA Regional Awards 2017

June 2017

The winners of the RIBA Regional Awards 2017 were announced earlier this month, and we were delighted to learn that 6 projects we were involved with won awards. The full list is as follows:

St Albans Abbey Cathedral - RIBA East Award 2017, RIBA East Conservation Award 2017, RIBA East Project Architect of the Year Award 2017

The Welding Institute - RIBA East Award 2017

Leicester Cathedral's Richard III Project 'With Dignity and Honour' - RIBA East Midlands Award 2017, RIBA East Midlands Project Architect of the Year 2017 for Josh McCosh, RIBA East Midlands Building of the Year 2017

5-7 St Helen's Place with The Leathersellers' Hall - RIBA London Award 2017

The Berrow Foundation Building and New Garden Building, Lincoln College - RIBA South Award 2017 and RIBA South Building of the Year 2017

University of Winchester Winton Chapel - RIBA South Award 2017

We look forward to hearing the 2017 winners of the remaining RIBA awards.








RICS Awards 2017

RICS Awards 2017

May 2017

London's Highgate School has been shortlisted for a 2017 RICS Award, in the Building Conservation category. 

Back in 2014, we worked with Clague Architects to renovate the historic school library, resulting in a multi-functional space rich in Victorian character.

The winners will be announced on 24 May 2017.

Learn more about the project.

 








Great British Buildings: Restoration of the Year 2016

Great British Buildings: Restoration of the Year 2016

April 2017

It was great to see The Garden Building, Lincoln College at the University of Oxford, a project we worked on with Stanton Williams Architects, featured on Channel 4's Great British Buildings: Restoration of the Year! The refurbishment was nominated in the category of 'Best Restored Buildings from the 20th century'.

Learn more about the project

The programme is available to watch on channel4.com until 13 May 2017 - click to watch.


 








Branded spa trolley for ESPA

Branded spa trolley for ESPA

April 2017

We recently teamed up with leading spa company ESPA to create a set of unique, bespoke spa trolleys, to be installed at the Hotel Mondrian in Doha, Qatar. 

Finished in a white lacquer, the side of the trolley features an embossed carving of the ESPA logo. 

Contact us for more information about branded furniture. 

Learn more about our hospitality projects.









RIBA East Midlands Awards 2017

RIBA East Midlands Awards 2017

April 2017

We are happy to announce another of our projects has been shortlisted for the RIBA East Midlands 2017 Awards - the Leicester Cathedral Richard III Project, which we worked on with van Heyningen and Haward Architects in 2015. 

The winners will be announced on 25 May 2017.

Photo credit: Carlo Draisci








RIBA South 2017 Awards

RIBA South 2017 Awards

March 2017

We are pleased to announce two building projects we were involved with - Winton Chapel, University of Winchester and New Garden Building, Lincoln College - have been shortlisted for the RIBA South 2017 Awards

The winners will be announced on 25 May 2017.

Photo credit: Peter Blundy, Design Engine








From the archives ... Church of St Gregory & St Martin, Kent

From the archives ... Church of St Gregory & St Martin, Kent

March 2017

Fifty years on ...

The Church of St Gregory and St Martin in Wye, Kent, the vicar of which is the Reverend Ravi Holy, (no, this is not 1 April), have recently taken delivery of a set of Charterhouse stacking benches to enable the church to use their nave in more flexible ways. This includes the accommodation of the world-famous Wye Music Festival, and the Ashford Choral Society whose principal conductor is the counter-tenor, Mark Deller.

Not many know that, in a previous existence, Mark was a teacher of French and a form-master at the Salisbury Cathedral School, when he was singing as a lay-clerk in the cathedral choir.

Here is an extract of the school photo taken in 1968 showing Mark in the front row, and me (his former pupil), aged 11, in the back row!

Funny how the Wheel of Time rolls by.

—Luke Hughes, March 2017








Mercers’ Company

Mercers’ Company

March 2017

Works at the Mercers’ Company, the premier Livery Company of the City of London, have been going on discretely for more than fifteen years, bringing some of the 1950s interiors into the modern age.

The Luke Hughes® team first worked on the chapel and the ‘Ambulatory’ event space. Recently we have supervised the new layouts for the Court Room and Court Dining Room, including a new lighting system developed in conjunction with Sutton-Vane Associates and the complete redecoration and re-gilding of the coffered ceilings. The new lighting in the Court Dining Room means that for the first time, table layouts can allow for meetings, reading and dining.

The furniture involvement has allowed for continuous use of the existing furniture, albeit refurbished.

For more on our Mercers’ Hall projects, see:

Mercers’ Hall Case Study

Mercers’ Chapel Phase 1 completes

Historic Meeting at Mercers’ Hall

Heraldic Gates at Mercers’ Hall








New library at Keystone Academy, Beijing nears completion

New library at Keystone Academy, Beijing nears completion

January 2017

As the Luke Hughes® team add the finishing touches to the impressive high school library at Keystone Academy, Beijing, all is on track for completion this February.

Keystone Academy is a Chinese private school in operation since 2014. This authorized IB world school is founded on three keystones: bilingual immersion in Chinese and English; building character and community throughout its residential setting; and promoting Chinese culture and identity in a world context.

Classrooms, offices and learning environments at Keystone are designed with students and teachers in mind. High ceilings, large windows, and intelligent layouts make for inviting spaces that facilitate student learning at every turn. The design of the new high school library, with an equal mix of Chinese and English books, is seen as critical in extending the cultural identity of the school, enabling inquiry-based learning, and playing a key role in attracting prospective students.

Luke Hughes® was first commissioned in January 2016, with the brief to create a space that finely blended eastern and western aesthetics and sensibilities with a reflection of the 21st century - especially in a digital world dominated by the world-wide web. The design team approached the project with a concept that has evolved from their extensive involvement with other libraries, creating a tangible learning environment and academic experience that embodies the very spirit of the institution it represents and which is encapsulated in the firm’s ethos of Furniture in Architecture.

24 tonnes of furniture, 85% made in the UK, duly arrived on time, on budget, ready for installation in the 820 sq metre library at the end of August 2016. Apart from the practical matters of providing shelves for books and readers spaces, the new library includes provision for temporary exhibitions, specialist teaching rooms, and a rare-books section. Some of the space retains some flexibility for rearrangement, for presentations by visiting academics, poets and musicians.

Further enhancing the academically stimulating environment are some individual artistic commissions including bronze door handles in the forms of Welsh and Chinese dancing dragons by sculptor Jill Watson and stone letter carving by Caroline Webb.

‘We’ve consciously taken some of the furniture forms illustrated in silk paintings from the Ming and Song dynasties and given them a contemporary twist’ says company founder Luke Hughes.

The library is already in use by enthusiastic students and their teachers. Kacy Song is the Director of Libraries and has been a vital member of the library’s design and development team. She firmly believes that a library is a place where all human wisdom comes to life and it is where you can really ‘talk’ with the wisest people in the world. Her enthusiasm is reflected in her response to the new library facility: ‘Places where the qi (energy) not only draws you in but also speaks of other eras (and values) are so rare. The Jin-dynasty poet, Tao Yuanming, wrote in “The Peach Blossom Land” about a fisherman who stumbled on a magical village where, on entering, visitors lose their sense of time and forget to leave. That is what the library feels like. One of our G11 students commented “there must be magic glue on the carpet - I can’t seem to want to leave!”

Founding Prinicipal Malcolm McKenzie remarks ‘When we talk about student life at Keystone Academy we talk about the heart and soul of our school community. We recognize that not all learning takes place in classroom settings. We commit to and value student learning that takes place independently and the library is a case in point where our students can explore areas of interest, make connections and enjoy unexpected discovery. We want to build a library that will capture imaginations because it is built to endure’.







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