Debut INDEX APPEARANCE takes BETHAN GRAY full circle
But in making her debut appearance at INDEX 2017, Welsh designer Bethan Gray is almost doing just that.
The 2014 ‘Best British Designer’ has an extraordinary family history. Descendants of an ancient Rajasthani clan, Bethan’s ancestors spent centuries migrating across Arabia and Persia before eventually settling in rural Wales.
Now London-based, that fascinating past is what drives the acclaimed creative’s flourishing reputation as one of the world’s most culturally diverse and inspired furniture designers.
She told INDEX: “In my work I focus on the similarities between the craft traditions of the east and west. It’s my own and my ancestor’s journeys that influence and inspire me to look for these similarities. The east has been very instrumental in inspiring and informing design styles that are now common place in the west, such as monochrome.
“At the heart of my design process is cultural referencing. I’m inspired to create original contemporary pieces that resonate with global, as well as local, audiences. I have been working closely with master craftsmen from the GCC for many years now, from founding the Ruby Tree with Islamic Arts and Crafts Scholar M Abdul Karim Crites to working with renowned Iranian artist Shamsian in Oman.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing other elements of master craftsmen’s work on show at INDEX that I may not have come across before.”
Bethan, who has exhibited in New York, Paris, Milan, London and Dubai, will bring pieces from her new Shamsian Collection to INDEX in what is a huge coup for the show. They will feature in both Harrods’ VIP Lounge and on a dedicated stand in the Luxury Pavillion. Bethan will also take part in our Design Talks.
“I’m really thrilled to be appearing,” she said. “I love the excitement of trade fairs, and am particularly intrigued by this year’s INDEX. It’s going to be fascinating to see all that is on offer across the show, as well as experience its fully-immersive features.
“I focus on creating pieces that are warm, contemporary, timeless and elegant. I love to use high-quality natural materials, with a focus on craftsmanship - pushing the boundaries where possible. My latest range is the Shamsian Collection, created in collaboration with Mohamed Reza Shamsian, a highly sought after, masterful Iranian artist, and his team of 70 highly skilled craftsmen based in Muscat.
“The collection is inspired by regional architecture, and features intricate marquetry, a traditional Islamic craft dating back to the sixteenth century, on Italian stained birds-eye maple, in stunning combination with solid brass or iridescent mother of pearl. Detailing on the beautiful Nizwa cabinet takes inspiration from the rounded architectural castellation patterning of the Nizwa Fort in Oman, while detailing on the Dhow takes inspiration from the sails of the regional sailing boats.”
Asked where she thinks the balance sits between style and functionality, Bethan said: “For me design itself is about finding that right balance.
“I like to create an atmosphere that is inclusive and comfortable, featuring symmetry, making it easy on the eye and helping balance the senses. It’s important to me though that this balance is carried through in terms of usage and practicality of the interiors, and with pragmatism and functionality important in the design of the pieces.”