Once in a while you come across something that is truly spectacular in a least expected place, and there’s something almost romantic about falling for a unique piece made by a designer you know nothing about. This is the way that I felt when I was standing in Simon Orrell’s workshop in Chelsea, hidden away at the back of an industrial estate. If you are ever lucky enough to be invited to his workshop, do not be fooled by the stacks of raw shagreen (shagreen is the precious skin of a shark) and sawdust on the floor. Simon produces exquisite furniture and accessories for his range, Simon Orrell Designs, as well as creating bespoke solutions for interiors ~ from shagreen panels for a Jeddah palace, parchment walls for a Moscow apartment to gilding the dome of a private house and extensive work on private yachts.
An example of black died shagreen
Simon loves experimenting with materials that have not been commonly used in furniture, and his delight in the application of gesso (a traditional paint made from rabbit skin glue and chalk that is the base for gilding), violet oyster, paua shell, shagreen and parchment is evident in the expertly crafted designs that emerge from his workshop. They are one of the very few workshops in Europe working with raw shagreen, and they mix the colours specially for each piece of furniture creating a bespoke solution that can become a modern day heirloom.
His jewellery boxes are gems to keep your baubles in, and you certainly won’t want to hide one away in a drawer. We’ve got our eye on his range of cameos, which we would frame in gilt and hang over our dressing table.
If you like the idea of Simon, head on over to our showcase where we have his ethereal jewellery available exclusively for our members.