Brands We Love: Mahogany By Hand
High quality classic furniture never truly dates.
Whilst fads turn from hot to cold, period pieces from the 1600s to late 1800s in particular remain timeless reminders that fashion fades, but style is eternal.
Nowhere is this more telling than at Mahogany By Hand, a business literally and figuratively carved since the mid 1980s. Garry Gillette and his team at Mahogany By Hand are experts in reproduction furniture and designer mahogany furniture, most notably French, English Georgian, and Victorian.
Blue Royalty: One of Mahogany By Hand's beautifully designed and crafted sofas.
Garry began his career in the Melbourne antiques industry, and would often organise antique trade shows and fairs. He recognised a customer desire for period furniture, but knew first-hand how slim pickings were for authentic, original pieces from these eras. The real thing was out of reach for all but the rich. Mahogany by Hand was founded, and suddenly it became possible for discerning households to purchase exemplary quality, entirely hand-crafted, replica furniture.
As the name suggests, mahogany is the timber of choice for all antique reproductions here. The ‘King of cabinet timbers’, this wood has a beautiful rich colour, tight dense grain and carves beautifully without splintering or shattering as might other timbers. All furniture is hand-crafted (no machinery is involved in any stage of the process), from the joints and carving to the upholstering, gilding, painting and polishing; a remarkable feat in a day and age where mass produced, more carelessly manufactured items might not even last the year. On the contrary, Mahogany By Hand delivers a lifetime guarantee with all products and creates pieces that are financially obtainable; astounding given the time, care and expertise invested into each and every piece.
Beautiful Office Furniture: A classic mahogany timber desk.
It’s no wonder then, that homes love Mahogany By Hand. Their work can be found Australia-wide and indeed some 75 per cent of business comes from interstate. From ultra-modern abodes to more conventional dwellings, Mahogany By Hand can be found either as accent pieces scattered throughout, or as the reigning décor.
It is that flexibility that often makes antique furniture so appealing – one can use signature pieces to make a bold but contained statement, or opt to spread the theme throughout. Mixing period antique furniture is not a no-no. Combining pieces from, for example, Louis XV and Louis XVI (two vastly different periods in terms of furniture direction at the time) can be incredibly successful, with the two opposing styles actually balancing each other out.
As Garry admits, these styles have been loved for centuries. There’s every indication they’ll continue to be loved for centuries more.
The broad term ‘French furniture’ encompasses styles from provincial France through to highly sophisticated, technical pieces made for King and Court, aristocrats and the French bourgeoisie.
Perhaps the most iconic French furniture comes from Louis XV and Louis XVI eras, which represented two diametrically opposed influences and interests. Louis XV takes its cue from a fascination at the time with Asia, as well as the more traditional (and geographically closer) Italian Baroque period. As such furniture from this era embraces curves, seashell carvings and can be regarded as quite frivolous.
Repelling the idea of frivolity, Louis XVI in contrast is more restrained, refined and elegant. During this period in history Pompeii was discovered, fanning a re-emerging interest in ancient Greek and Roman cultures, accents of which heavily influence the furniture (including images on upholstery) of the time.
Georgian Furniture (circa 1714 – 1760)
This style of furniture was influenced by Kinds George I and George II of England. It coincided with the Queen Anne period of furniture, but is a more ornate version thereof. Classic Georgian furniture tends to involve heavier proportions and elaborate carvings that finish in a pad or ball-and-claw foot. Gilding (the application of gold leaf or paint to the timber) is also prevalent in Georgian furniture.
Victorian Furniture (circa 1840 – 1910)
As expected, this style of furniture is named after Queen Victoria, whose reign over England extended from 1837 – 1901. Interestingly, this period of furniture probably was the first to herald the concept of ‘mass production’. Victorian furniture takes its notes from Gothic influence – heavy proportions, dark finishes, elaborate carvings and a propensity for ornamentation.