When our in-house design team went for a brand new range planning day at a vineyard in Sussex, they left with much more than they’d bargained for.
The designers at Alexander Rose were challenged with creating a brand-new range that could help the company launch into 2023 with a bang. Since the pandemic, the garden furniture industry has seen its fair share of ups and downs mainly due to the huge surge in demand for all garden products. This unprecedented demand has resulted in a huge overstock of garden furniture in the UK, mainly in the lower end weave products. Alexander Rose, therefore, wanted to bring out a range that stood out from the crowd that would inspire retailers and consumers alike and so the design team got to work.
Inspiration often comes from unlikely sources and this was certainly the case for the Bolney range. On an impromptu design trip around the local area, the designer (Alan Morley and Louis Radtke) stumbled across a small village only a stone’s throw away from head office.
Sussex’s Hidden Winery
Bolney is a charming little village local to us at Alexander Rose HQ which dates back centuries, and is home to a rapidly expanding and over-achieving local Wine Estate that seemed like the perfect place to get the creative brains whirring! For over 50 years the Bolney Estate has been perfecting the art of British wine making. In the 1970s owners and founders, Janet and Rodney Pratt brought the land and planted just 1000 wines over 3 acres. The Estate now boasts an impressive collection of Whites, Roses, Red and Sparkling wines. In 2022 the Vineyard was spotted by industry experts and acquired by Freixenet Copestick Ltd as their first venture into English wines.
As the team navigated their way to Bolney Wine Estate, they were inspired by the architecture of this quaint little place. Bolney is a quintessentially British village that has stood in West Sussex for hundreds of years. In fact, the Name Bolney is believed to come from the Saxon word ‘Bolne’ meaning “a village near marsh”. In medieval times the village was known (as was much of the area) for iron smelting. The last remaining pub in the village, the Eight bells truly stands as an impressive figure on the Highstreet and is a fantastic place to great some contemporary pub food and sample local Sussex produce.
The Furniture Design Process
Once the designers arrived at Bolney Estate, the two of them got to work looking at the latest furniture design trends and combined this with market information on what our customers love most, to determine what this new range should be. In Louis’ own words “We wanted to move away from current trends just enough to catch the eye but not enough to scare those less adventurous”. Armed with this info, and feeling inspired by the Bolney architecture, they were well on their way to success.
The first decision to make was which material this range would be made from. Over recent years Alexander Rose has prided itself on its timber craftsmanship. In the back of the designer’s minds, they could imagine building a large range of timber that could compete with any other product on the market. In 2021 we were approached by our factory with a timber that we had not used before. As well as being striking to look at, it is extremely durable and hardwearing – the perfect combination for outdoor furniture. Dark Acacia hardwood, a.k.a Pheasant wood, is strong, dense and beautiful in equal measure. The timber’s natural oils make it an excellent all year-round garden furniture.
The rich brown colour is enhanced by the natural marbled grain giving every single piece a complete uniqueness. In the furniture world today, it is very hard to find timber as eye-catching and striking as the Pheasant wood. The huge benefit of using this timber is that it is incredibly well-priced in comparison to timbers of similar origin and quality. This would allow the designers to spread their wings when it came to creating the full range. Over time as with all hardwoods, the dark colour of the dark acacia will mellow and become silvery in appearance. We do recommend if you would like to preserve the colour of your furniture then using our Timber Protector is essential to maintain the dark rich colour of the Pheasant wood.
The next decision to make was what the range should consist of. As Bolney was the flagship for 2023 that needed to make a statement, we felt it should be expansive and expansive it is! The range consists of a sleek bench, a comfy lounge collection with deep seating armchairs, a 2 seater sofa and a low slung coffee table, and dining armchairs to accompany either a square, circular or rectangular table. The designers pushed even further by designing a luxurious sling sun lounger and side table set which ties the whole range into one all-encompassing masterpiece, fit to fully furnish even the most lavish outdoor space. The Bolney range truly is everything a garden or commercial premises would need for a complete facelift without paying the price!
The final decision in this design adventure was to settle on a name and, after such a successful day in this beautiful setting, ‘Bolney’ naturally felt like a perfect fit.
The Revisit and Photoshoot
Several months later we returned to the Bolney Wine Estate, armed with our brand new Bolney range of furniture, which had since been manufactured and crafted by our talented team. There’s something very special about dreaming something up from conception and then seeing it come to fruition and we just knew that the vineyard would be the perfect place to capture these product shots in a beautiful commercial setting.
We also created this exciting promotional video, which was our very first venture into in-house drop videography.
We’re extremely grateful to the friendly staff at the Bolney Wine Estate, for allowing us to exhibit our beautiful furniture in their stunning setting, and also for the name inspiration for this new addition to our product offering.
By Ed Fairfax