Designer Stories: Meeting Simon Stewart of Charles Burnand

2015 marks Boca do Lobo’s 10th anniversary, a really important milestone in the brand’s journey as it reaches a point of confidence, maturity and excellence. It is also a stage were all the lessons learnt, and invaluable effort and dedication on behalf of the many individuals and stakeholders which hold and support the brand, are translated into a collection of pieces and experiences which we can be proud of.

Such ascension and the continuous strive for improvement and success, wouldn’t be possible without key elements, from interior designers, to shops, and distinguished opinion leaders, who have believed in our concept and philosophy since the beginning. With this in mind, we wish to give our readers some insight into the “houses” of these key elements, and share with our readers some of the great stories behind them.

Our first instalment of the series takes us to a shop space and studio in Crawford Street in central to London to meet Simon Stewart, the man behind Charles Burnand. Simon has a gifted eye for high quality furniture pieces, home accessories, and textiles, which are able to stand the test of time, in terms of design and build quality. His eclectic taste take him to various cities worldwide to find and purchase these exquisite items, from a 1930’s walnut drinks cabinets, to contemporary wall lighting, creating a unique and genuine environment in his shop and projects. Read on to find out more about Simon, his shop, projects, favourite designers, and much more.

Designer Stories: Meeting Simon Stuart of Charles Burnand

Hi Simon. I’d like to start the interview with a little introduction to your shop/studio concept. How did the Charles Burnand project start, and what makes you stand out from other design studios?

My mother is a very talented and successful florist and owned her own business for many years…more than she would like me to mention – one should never reveal a ladies age.  When she visited her clients houses to arrange their weekly house flowers she would often find herself having to rearrange their furniture and accessories, it was inevitable that she would end up working in interiors.  13 years ago the shop next to hers became available and we started a home accessories boutique.  A very small high-end collection.  I went on the first buying trip with her to Maison et Objet. Charles Burnand was born.

Tell us about the name Charles Burnand, what is the story behind it?

Charles Burnand is my Grandfathers name. I always loved it… So much nicer than Simon Stewart.  As a child I wanted to be called Charles so when I started the business it was a done deal that we would name it Charles Burnand.

Designer Stories: Meeting Simon Stuart of Charles Burnand
“I don’t really have a favourite style, I just favour good design – it works with any interior.”

What makes your studio and shop stand out in the highly competitive London market?

London, the business capital of the world – some of the best designers in the world work out of London so the market is very competitive to say the least.  I think the most important factor is to always be different and stand out from the crowd. I don’t try to be different, I buy what I like and present it in such a way that it feels easy, like anyone can live with the pieces.  I like the store to feel warm and inviting.  The store experience should be pleasurable from the moment that you enter the space.  It’s a combination of the lighting, decor, scent, service and of course a collection of exquisite pieces. I’d like to think that we pay attention to all of these details.  The studio isn’t really any different.  We operate an open studio policy so clients can see us at work, we’re not aware of many studios that operate like this in the UK.

What was your most memorable/favourite project you worked on in the past 5 years?

Well, it would have to be a Ski Chalet that we are working on at the moment. The client is adorable. They like all the ideas that we present, so easy and accommodating, I would go so far as to say they are the perfect client. I always said that I would retire when I was given a ski chalet to work with, now of course I want a jet and a yacht to decorate.

We know you travel a lot to find pieces and products for your store and projects. What are your favourite destinations when you’re out on your “quest”,  and how do you go about picking pieces for your shop/projects?

I just buy what I like, how great is that! When people ask the Charles Burnand team to describe the Charles Burnand look everyone just says ‘its Simon’. I travel to Italy a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. I find the midcentury modern furniture very exciting but more recently have started buying 1970’s pieces for the store and projects. I go to auctions and fairs to buy these pieces. I also buy in Brussels and Antwerp – I have always loved the style aesthetic of Belgium, lovely clean lines and not afraid to use black.

Which major events or fairs to you attend, and which one do you like the most?

Aside from Maison et Objet, I mainly concentrate on specialist shows. PAD in Paris and London, and Masterpiece, are very inspiring, it is wonderful to see how other gallerists are buying and collecting, it keeps me on my toes. For art it has to be the Venice Biennale.

Designer Stories: Meeting Simon Stuart of Charles Burnand

What is your favourite favourite furniture style, and which designers currently excite you?

I don’t really have a favourite style, I just favour good design – it works with any interior. Aside from Boca do Lobo and Brabbu, I love the work that Jallu Ebenistes are producing. The quality is flawless and the pieces are timeless – true museum pieces.

Do you have anything exciting going on at the moment that you can tell us about?

Aside from the Ski Chalet we have something very exciting going happening for London Design Festival 2015. I can’t say too much but we are working on a collection/installation that will be showcased as part of the festival in a major London venue. We’ll let you know about that as soon as we can.

“I don’t try to be different, I buy what I like and present it in such a way that it feels easy, like anyone can live with the pieces.”

How would you describe your store in 3 words?

Thats a difficult question to answer. Exclusivity, Bespoke, Quality.

Which of the Boca do Lobo pieces is your favourite, and why?

Pixel, every time. The riot of colour the wonderful use of the brass concentric circles that make up the base, the quilted silk interiors, the mirror. Love it.

Designer Stories: Meeting Simon Stuart of Charles Burnand

 

We highly recommend Charles Burnand as a must visit shop on any design or furniture aficcionado’s London travel itinerary. Be sure to check out their open studio space and see what unique pieces Simon has at the shop for some design inspiration or even spontaneous purchase!

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