You only need buy garden furniture once in your life – so why not buy something beautiful?
In today’s world, we’ve become all too used to seeing furniture – whether for indoors or outdoors – as disposable.
When you buy a £99 bench from an out-of-town megastore, you know it’ll look good for a few months, look shabby within a year and will fall apart within two or three years.
Too many of us just accept this as the new reality – but it needn’t be like that. And there are makers of beautiful objects who are bucking the trend, sourcing top-quality materials and creating things using time-honoured techniques.
Yes, it’ll cost a lot – you might end up paying 10 times what you would at one of the big chains. But isn’t it worth it for a piece that will still be beautiful and functional for your whole lifetime? And even better, you’ll be able to pass it on to your children and grandchildren.
One such maker is Gaze Burvill, a top-quality creator of garden furniture. We caught up with co-founder Simon Burvill a few weeks ago – you can read the full interview here. On this page, however, we’ve picked out some of his key insights and highlighted a few objects which really exemplify the difference that you can make. As each piece is individually made, pricing is impossible to give out – but you can expect to pay upwards of £3,000 for a garden bench. It’d be a lot for something you’d throw away next Autumn – but not for something you’ll have forever.
Broadwalk tree seat with arms
‘When we first started, people used to view their gardens as separate places,’ says Simon. ‘But in the past 20 years they’ve become integrated with the house.’
Nothing exemplifies this better than Gaze Burvill’s Broadwalk tree seats – each one made to measure, depending on the tree which you want it built around, and making it entirely normal to sit in a garden not merely to eat or to sunbathe, but for the pure pleasure of being outside.
‘When the wood arrives in the form of planks, we always take the centre plank, which is the best and most stable – something like the fillet steak of an oak tree,’ explains Simon. By only using the finest quality wood, durability is maximised – something that is crucially important when commissioning a commemorative bench or seat, somewhere where your family will want to sit for generations to remember loved ones.
The Splash Collection
The distinctive curves seen in many of Gaze Burvill’s pieces are a huge part of their charm – and a mark of their specialness. ‘One of the things we did when we launched our first piece – the court seat – in 1993 was to use steam bending to get solid wood curves; in those days, and even today, most manufacturers use glue,’ explains Simon. The result speaks for itself.
A couple of years ago Gaze Burvill hit the papers with what was widely described as a £17,000 barbecue – it’s actually a full-on outdoor kitchen with plumbing, electricity and so on. Using the French oak that they do gives the makers the flexibility to create more or less anything. ‘We use oak because it’s durable, environmentally sustainable and you can bend it, which isn’t an option with a lot of tropical wood,’ says Simon. ‘That’s how we get details such as flared curves on corners and achieve a clean, linear design.’
Dining al fresco
Ordering something to fit your space – rather than shoehorning in a flatpacked piece – means you get exactly what you want, as demonstrated by how this Bailey round table and bench fits perfectly beneath the vines overhead. There’s simply something special about a piece made just for you which nothing else can match: back on his carpentry course, Simon made himself a chopping board from an alder tree that remains one of his most treasured possessions. ‘It’s something I’d never sell,’ he admits. And after a quarter of a century, he still uses it on a daily basis. That’s a lesson to us all.