Furniture designer Edward Johnson joins unique pop-up celebration of finest Sussex artists

Edward Johnson
Edward Johnson

Furniture designer Edward Johnson will be showing his work when he joins – for the first time – The House at Hill Lane Pop-up Exhibition.

The exhibition runs from November 15-17 from 10am-5pm at The House at Hill Lane, 43 Hill Lane, Barnham, PO22 0BL (www.thehouseathilllane.com), the home of textile artist Polly Meynell and her theatre director husband Joe Harmston. Alongside Polly and Edward will be exhibiting oil painter Ann Gardner; ceramicist Fanny Peppercorn; and photographer Alan Frost.

“In the last year I have developed a collection of smaller items,” says Edward, “and it will make for a better show. I am looking forward to seeing the house. It will be good to see things in that domestic home environment really. Certainly for furniture, it will contextualise it. When you see things in a gallery, it can be a bit bare and cold. The idea of a home environment, dressed with the art works around it, will show things off very well.”

Edward established his business in 2009 after gaining invaluable experience working in the furniture design and manufacturing industry. He graduated in 2007 from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University with a first-class honours degree. He now produces museum quality furniture for private and commercial clients.

Edward is based at Pea Barn, Old Park Farm, Old Park Lane, Bosham – a location which has enabled him to work closely with Chichester College: “They have got quite a big pool of cabinet makers for us. Over the years, we have had quite a few apprentices from there.. We do a mix of limited-edition work and bespoke furniture. We have got a portfolio that we have built up over the years. Clients can either buy things or tweak them to suit their own tastes. And then we have got the bespoke element which is most of our work. People might like one of the styles that we have got. We have got a few signature styles, or sometimes people just prefer to start with a blank canvas or want something to fit in with pieces that they have already got in their houses.

“Obviously people are not buying products in the way they would at IKEA or John Lewis. They are buying into the commissioning as well, buying into the journey, the story, the fact that they get to collaborate with us and they get to see it from nothing to something in the workshop. They might come to see it in the workshop or we might send them images, and they will know that I have selected the timber specially for it.”

Key pieces for Edward at the moment are his new Family Tree heirloom boxes and items from his Sussex Collection.

The heirloom boxes use the natural rings in wood – one added each year – to chart a family history through their dates of birth: “And the Sussex Collection is my natural style of designing. They are quite clean and simple pieces. Generally they are curved, and there are quite stylish detailings. There is quite an eclectic feel in terms of the final outcome. If you look at it, you will see a resemblance running through them.”

Pieces include nests of tales, dining chairs, coffee tables, jewellery boxes and mirrors.

“You can buy them as they are or you can tweak them if you want them bigger or smaller or different timbers. That’s the beauty of what we are doing. We are not mass-producing. We always keep an open mind. If the clients want something else, we can do it. Generally the clients will want it to be different.”

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