When designing our perfect space, there are many decisions and choices we need to consider. For many, it's an opportunity to express our unique personalities and styles; for others, it can be a more daunting experience. 

The furniture we surround ourselves with in our homes is the heart and soul that plays a significant role in our everyday lives. 

There is an overwhelming number of furniture options available on the market today, and yet there are occasions where we can't find that perfect piece we've always wanted or one that will offer function in a specific area. 

Andrade Bench in English Ash, Martelo and Mo

Image Credit - Andrade Bench in English Ash, Martelo and Mo

So, how do we navigate out of this maze of choices? Could commissioning bespoke furniture design be a better solution to this challenge? Having our concept realised through a rich tradition of furniture design and craftsmanship might be just an idea worth exploring.

Knowing what we want and our budget is critical to get our vision to become a reality. I'm here to guide you through and demystify this process.

Here are a few fundamental steps to reflect on before engaging in getting your desired furniture commissioned. 

The Idea

Start by putting your thoughts together. The clearer your description is, the better the framework of the project will be.

Think about what purpose this piece needs to fulfil, the style, the materials and size and which room it is for.  

Draw a sketch and look for inspirational images on Pinterest to help communicate your ideas across. 

Sample mood board and design scheme by Design Stories


Image Credit - Sample mood board and design scheme by Design Stories

Working with the  Designer

Many don't recognise the possibility of working with a designer. 

It is worth mentioning that not every maker is a designer, and not every designer has maker skills.

If that's the case, commissioning the right designer to help you bring your design ideas together might be the first step you need to take.

The designer's job will be to find out as much information as possible from you and find out all the required specifications before turning your ideas into the design. They might also be able to recommend the right maker for the job.

Your designer can show their interpretation of your ideas in several different ways: hand sketches, watercolours or CAD (computer-aided design). Computer-rendered drawings can add to the cost, but they will also resolve any doubts before they become problems.

Martelo and Mo, dovetail joinery
Image Credit - Photography by Jonny Back, University of Hertfordshire, Martelo and Mo, dovetail joinery.

The Budget

Bespoke furniture can be costly, especially if you want something very unique and detailed. It is essential to discuss the budget as early as possible and save time before designing a piece that's too expensive or too cheap in the first place. 

It is often assumed that material cost is a significant factor, and while there are substantial variations between timbers, it is quite a small percentage of the actual bill. 

The complexity of the piece and its time to execute your vision will play the most prominent part in the final price. Nonetheless, once you get your desired furniture realised, all the time and money invested will deliver a product that's one of a kind.

Penthouse Residence in Fitzrovia - Photography by Helen Stroud, Interior Design by Bergman & Mar, Bespoke Desk by Martelo and MoPhotography by Helen Stroud, Interior Design by Bergman & Mar, Bespoke Desk by Martelo and Mo

Image Credit - Penthouse Residence in Fitzrovia, Photography by Helen Stroud, Interior Design by Bergman & Mar, Bespoke Desk by Martelo and Mo.

The Maker

Creating a bespoke piece of furniture should be a pleasant journey.

The right maker will want to understand their client and the scope of the product they are making.

You want to work with someone who's transparent and willing to advise you on the right materials for your furniture and its functionality. They should explain any technical aspects of the design and manufacturing and supply a detailed drawing before production begins.

Lucas Equi working on a dining table in Martelo and Mo workshop in Hertford


Image Credit - Jonny Back, University of Hertfordshire

Approving The Design

You got this far; now you want to ensure you are happy with the finished piece. The best result of this journey would be for you to be pleased with the finished piece of furniture after investing time and money into its pursuit.

Before you approve the design and start manufacturing, you can request the designer-maker to explain anything unclear and request material samples, drawings and examples of previous projects (if possible) to help you visualise the end result. If you are still uncertain, it might be necessary to invest in a mock-up or a 3D drawing.

Make sure to review the final measurements a few more times and ensure that the piece will fit in the space it will be built for - as they say - 'measure twice, cut once'.

Deposits and payments

Your project is unique to you and has no commercial value to anyone else. Hence you should expect to fund at least part of the manufacturer as it goes along. 

For smaller projects, a 50% deposit is typical and more extensive plans would have a deposit with stage payments along the way.

Visiting The Makers Studio

The best part of having a bespoke piece of furniture commissioned is seeing it being made. This is not possible when buying off the shelf.

Seeing how much craft and work goes into the one-off piece you designed will surely make a great story to share with your family and friends. 

Martelo and Mo workshop, behind the scenes working on a bespoke project

Image Credit - Jonny Back, University of Hertfordshire

Receiving The Product

The commissioned piece can take a few weeks to a few months to complete, depending on its intricacy. 

Your designer-maker should supply you with care instructions and explain how to best look after your product.

Penthouse Residence in Fitzrovia - Photography by Helen Stroud, Interior Design by Bergman & Mar, Bespoke Desk by Martelo and Mo

Image Credit - Penthouse Residence in Fitzrovia, Photography by Helen Stroud, Interior Design by Bergman & Mar, Bespoke Desk by Martelo and Mo.

Yey! You can now dive into commissioning your exceptionally first-designed piece. You have a good idea of what you want, know your budget and understand the timing to get it done. You got your designer and maker, and you've approved your design. 

You are good to go and get your ideal furniture designed, made and delivered to your home. It will be a unique piece that will reflect your identity making your home the place you want to be.

If you would like more information or need help purchasing a bespoke piece of furniture, please contact us.

Written in collaboration with Influence Edge, University of Hertfordshire.

Disclaimer: We always endeavour to credit the correct source of every image we use. If you think a credit may need to be corrected, please get in touch with us at info@marteloandmo.co.uk.

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