— Sarah Kay Press Room

 

Sarah Kay . Furniture Designer Maker

Sarah Kay furniture designer’s work covers a broad spectrum, from bespoke designs for private clients and public art commissions, to design for production for UK retailers such as SCP, Benchmark, Sitting Firm, Mark Product and Heal’s.

With a reputation for designs which are sensitive and well considered. Sarah Kay’s work tends to have a quiet appeal which resists the ephemeral vagaries of fashion, the objective being longevity through quality design and craftsmanship.

 

1964

I was born in Hertfordshire but grew up mainly in the countryside in south-west England.

After 12 years working in administration and retail management – in London and in Paris – I turned 30 and took stock.

1994

A two year intensive course in fine cabinet making and furniture design at Parnham College. Parnham was set up by John Makepeace (link?) and is recognized the world over. Taught cabinet making skills by Robert Ingham (link) I remember designing a complicated mitre joint and asking Robert if he thought I’d be able to do it “Sarah, any student of mine can do it” he said. Too right! It was an extraordinary experience, a real privilege.

1996

I left Parnham with my tool kit and found a bench space to rent at Oblique Workshops in Dalston, East London. Unbeknown to me at the time, the area was a real hub of creativity, I read somewhere that Hackney had the highest concentration of artists in Europe…

At Oblique I filled the rather large gaps between private commissions by making for some of the other designers there, translating for the BBC and making furniture to exhibit. It took a couple of years before I had enough work to employ a cabinet maker and concentrate more on designing.

2000

Zanzibar – my future husband and I left the UK in March. He had a job working with the Zanzibar Film Festival and I was planning on doing a bit of teaching. Before we went, a private client asked me if I’d like to design some furniture for a country house hotel they were in the process of buying. That was Cowley Manor (http://www.cowleymanor.com) and a massive career break. I asked Andrea Stemmer if she’d like to join me, we’d been friends a few years and had often said ‘wouldn’t it be great to do a big project together?’. So I commuted every few months, Andrea came out a couple of times too. Kay+Stemmer was a partnership that lasted 12 years as a result.

2008

We left Africa and returned to London – and France. Work remains London-centric but I have a workshop in France and that’s where I head when I can. It’s a great combination.

2013

What’s next? Hopefully different collaborations, things I’ve never tried before, places I’ve never been (Japan is at the top of my list)…