Meet the Furniture Duo Making Waves in East London


“It’s as if a chair were passing through a filter or reflected in water,” says Teresa Rivera, musing on the wiggly timber seats she makes with Grant Wilkinson, her partner in business and in life. Early last year, the London-based couple split from their day jobs—he was a woodworker at globe maker Bellerby & Co., she a junior designer at Fran Hickman—to launch Wilkinson & Rivera. “We wanted to present handmade wooden furniture in a contemporary way, without losing the traditional craftsmanship that makes it so beautiful,” explains Rivera. Their groovy take on a Windsor came first, followed by a squiggly Queen Anne with a hand-caned seat. (The former went viral on Twitter when users dubbed it the “nervous chair.”) And at The Future Perfect’s Design Miami booth, last December, they debuted their rendition of a Welsh stick chair, featuring labor-intensive barley twists. All the pieces are made in East London, where the pair work out of a shipping container on the grounds of a shared workshop. “It’s a combination of hand tools and power tools,” Wilkinson says of the spirals, which are carved on a lathe. Versions of that sinuous detail will adorn a series of stools that are slated to debut at The Future Perfect this spring. (Pictured are early editions.) “Some designs are so old that there’s no copyright,” Rivera notes of the archetypal forms she and Wilkinson have used as creative springboards. “They belong to an entire population.”

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