By Laura Goldstein
“In this last year I’ve found my creative side needed more feeding,” admits furniture designer and maker, Nick Purcell of Nicholas Purcell Furniture, Vancouver.
Usually focused on bespoke design pieces for clients, Purcell decided to further challenge himself by taking part in several city-wide events. His furniture is showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue. They are event partners with Crafted In the City, presenting Purcell and other artists and makers at an Open House May 25th. Purcell will also exhibit during Crafted Interiors at the Pipe Shop at the Shipyards, North Vancouver May 11-16th. All events were the impetus for the intrepid maker to experiment especially in cast bronze.
“It took me quite a while to find a foundry in Vancouver that was even willing to cast small artistic pieces and not just gigantic ship parts,” laughs Purcell at his studio in the rabbit warren of 1000 Parker Street.
“I love all the bubbles and how the patina varies from gold to pinkish flecks,” says Purcell of the sculptural, limited edition Vanity Stool in bronze and curly French oak. It’s part of the Finn Series (named after his youngest son,) and is an elegant, modern addition to a home, office, spa or yacht’s interior. The Finn Bench in bronze and walnut is wrapped in a luxurious imprinted leather with impeccable top-stitching that brings to mind fine Italian workmanship. “The sides of the FINN Series are cast in silicone bronze using the ancient process of casting in sand. My intent was to show the unrefined nature of this method which was achieved fantastically in the ripples and bubbles formed in the bronze,” Purcell explains.
The Kick Lounge Chair and SideKick Ottomon were inspired by the Finnish “kicksled” originally produced in Sweden with long runners to get people moving outdoors in the cold months. Purcell’s rendition is so comfortable it has the opposite effect- you’ll want to curl-up in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine watching your favourite Nordic noir! Stylishly built in ash with exacting joinery and upholstered in buttery caramel English bridle leather, the adjustable head pillow is counter-weighted from behind the chair with a silicone bronze pulley. Pirelli strapping gives the classic piece a sporty look.
The INCENDIO Table in blackened and white-washed ash is Purcell’s homage to his memories of sitting around the campfire with his family camping in B.C. He carefully created the illusion of stacked logs on a campfire for the table’s base, a balancing feat that finally materialized from his countless drawings and scale models. Plans are in the works for both a coffee table and long dining table topped befittingly, with smoked glass.
“You know Europe has this great history in furniture design and craft which I really appreciate and admire,” Purcell says. Born in England and originally trained as a graphic designer, he studied furniture -making under the tutorage of master furniture maker, David Charlesworth in North Devon. In 2000 he moved to Bowen Island B.C. where he established his studio then relocated with his wife and three children to Vancouver in 2010.
One of Purcell’s biggest compliments came from his adult children last Christmas. Unbeknownst to him, “they all had my logo tattooed on their arms,” he relates with a huge grin.
“I’m really passionate about my work especially about original design and I find that so many things are just replicated from photos on Instagram instead of putting the effort into designing something new,” the maker has noticed. “I think it’s better to make one fantastic piece rather than ten mediocre. You know, bespoke furniture-making is often solitary and I’d love to get together with like-minded makers in Vancouver on a regular basis to discuss design. There’s a lot of good work in Vancouver- let’s move forward and take it to the next level.”
Nicholas Purcell furniture can all be customized including upholstery and size through SwitzerCultCreative.