Bethan Gray is the award-winning Welsh designer whose work is an inspired and distinctive take on how to combine tradition with modernity. Simply put, Gray’s work is extraordinary, exquisite and elegant and is now in store and available through all Living Edge showrooms.
October 10th, 2017
Gray’s work is as intriguing as her background and certainly influenced by and expressive of it. Hailing from an ancient Rajasthani clan, her ancestors migrated across Arabia and Persia before settling in the Celtic heartland of Wales. Gray has followed in her ancestors’ footsteps, and travelling through India, Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and South America, she has collected a treasure trove of objects and memories that provide her with infinite inspiration.
This heritage and these experiences have woven a rich pattern of influences through Gray’s work as she draws on motifs, forms and craft traditions from the East and West. By melding these cultural influences and references, she creates original and contemporary pieces with enduring appeal and global resonance. Simple and pared-back silhouettes are produced from luxurious materials with intricate details, and cutting-edge design technology is balanced with the values of traditional craftsmanship. The result – long-lasting pieces that surpass trends and time.
Gray is drawn to tactile and luxurious natural materials, such as marble, wood and hand-tooled leather; materials that have unique patterns and grains expressing character and heritage. For her Band collection of dining, side and coffee tables, Gray pairs the beauty of coloured marble with warm brushed brass and metal-dipped legs. The colour palette – green, white, pink, grey and black – explores the harmony between soft, muted and warm hues with rich, deep and highly pigmented colours.
Evident throughout the collection is Gray’s appreciation for detail, honest materials and fine craft. Brogue is a range of tables with an intricately detailed Spinneybeck leather strip stitched around the circumference of the table top. Inspired by the classic brogue shoe, the leather has decorative perforations that evoke the traditional ‘brogue’ motif. Similarly, the Stud collection takes inspiration from the studwork found on doors in Asia and the Middle East. Traditionally used to join two materials together, studding became a decorative embellishment and Gray uses it for a warm and contemporary aesthetic.
Gray works with talented craftspeople from all over the world, and her partnership with Iranian artist Mohamad Reza Shamsian has allowed Gray to further develop her interest in Islamic art while providing Shamsian with the opportunity to translate his traditional craft skills into modern and contemporary design. The Shamsian Collection, named for the artist, is heavily inspired by Omani architectural references and craft and showcases his meticulous marquetry work with inlaid solid brass and paua shell.
The Shamsian Nizwa Cabinet is the centrepiece of the collection. It is made from Italian maple veneer with a hand-stained turquoise ombré and brass detailing inspired by the intricate patterning of the Omani fort for which the cabinet is named. The Shamsian Masirah collection likewise has delicate brass inlay and its symmetrical and harmonious pattern takes inspiration from the rounded, wooden hulks of traditional Dhow sailing vessels.
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