Alan Flannery Furniture Design

Website detailing the bespoke furniture design and making business of Alan Flannery, Bristol, UK

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2019: Trends for the new year

Happy New Year

As we settle into the new year we are afforded a good opportunity to look back at the year that has passed and what has been achieved and what projects that have been completed. It is also a good opportunity to look forward to the year ahead with optimism and wonder what exciting opportunities may be around the corner. From an design perspective it is a very good time to look at what is happening in the world of interiors. Over the last couple of weeks I have been paying attention to many of the magazines and blogs which look towards the New Year and the trends they expect to be popular. Although many of these articles vary a lot there is a great deal of overlap within their content and in my opinion this overlap is indicative of what I see daily on Instagram and pinterest as I carry out research for current projects. In this post I outline some of these trends and examine the bearing they have on the world of bespoke furniture design.

Fleure side Table created by Alan Flannery Furniture Design in 2018

Fleure side Table created by Alan Flannery Furniture Design in 2018

Design Trends in Bespoke Furniture

We are all influenced in one way or another by our environment and what we see around us and the same is true of furniture designers. When designing a piece of furniture current trends play a part in steering the direction of the concept but one has to be careful not too align with them too closely.

One of the main attractions of commissioning a piece of bespoke furniture is creating something to suit the clients specific tastes , something which differentiates itself from mass produced pieces and something which indicates the individuality of the client, their environment and their lifestyle. Another attraction of commissioning the design and manufacture of a furniture piece is the longevity of the item. This should be an item which is created with great care from high quality materials and should not only stand the test of time physically but also stylistically. These pieces are designed to last a lifetime and remain a constant in the homes of their owners as the interior design may change with passing trends.

The greatest challenge a furniture designer faces is to create an item which is timeless in this way. Something which compliments the trends of a certain time, sit well in an interior setting without leaning too closely towards it. We aim to design not just for today and the world we are in currently but also for tomorrow. With the passing of time we can look back at designs of the past and judge them on the way they age or more appropriately the way they don’t. Bearing this in mind its interesting to look at where trends are at the moment, to be aware of our surroundings but be mindful to not to get too swept away on any of the transient waves of style that will move away from relevance in the same way that they moved towards it. Bearing this in mind lets look at where trends may take us in 2019 …. from a safe distance.


Dark dusky colours have been very popular over the last couple of year’s especially dark rich greens and dark blues or navy’s. Magazine previews of 2019 trends predict that these colours will continue to be very popular. These colours used extensively in wall paint, soft furnishings, curtains and sofas are accented with bright colours such as mustard or amber or with earthy tones such as soft pinks, terracotta, sand and rust colours, tans and corals. This is verified by the Pantone revealing “living coral” tone as their colour of the year for 2019. The following image illustrates a range of colour palettes outlining popular colours over the coming year from varying online sources.

Colours of 2019? Pantone’s colour of the year included at the top left of the image

Colours of 2019? Pantone’s colour of the year included at the top left of the image

Materials and Aesthetic styles

Natural wood is a very safe material as regards trends as it seems to be omnipresent in interior fashions in one form or another at any given time. Over the last few years there appears to be a trend towards darker toned woods which are accented with brighter metal fittings and fixtures. This lends itself well to the colour schemes outlined above and to the revival of art-deco. “Luxe” seems to be a buzz-word given to a trend which uses very sumptuous and luxurious feeling materials to create colourful art-deco inspired interiors. Many of the colours and trends predicted to be popular in 2019 lend themselves very well to this style. The use of velvet continues to be very popular in sofas, cushions and soft furnishing and this is very much indicative of this trend. Metal accents are also used throughout with Brass, rose gold and bronze being used throughout. This is seen in taps, handles, hinges and light fittings. The numerous guides to interior trends in 2019 suggest a drop off in popularity in rose gold at the expense of brass. Shapes such as scallops and the inclusion of curved sofas are also common themes.

Brace coffee table created in Ash with a white tinted oil finish, a popular wood species and finish in Scandinavian/Nordic styled furniture.

Brace coffee table created in Ash with a white tinted oil finish, a popular wood species and finish in Scandinavian/Nordic styled furniture.

Another trend which appears not to be waning in popularity is the minimalist Scandinavian/Nordic style. Simplistic elegant furniture design in light coloured wood such as Birch or Ash, this style often incorporates round sectioned components and this is a trend which can be seen in a new range of furniture called OVO designed by the architectural firm Foster and Partners for Benchmark.

Eclectic Creativity

Recently I have been quite a bit of research into the furniture market for a design project I am currently involved with and this clarified to me the trend of householders and interior designers moving away from the practice of matching their pieces of furniture within a room and instead “mixing and matching” their interior with accent pieces. This is consistent with the trend of “eclectic creativity which is cited in a “DIY week” report which looks at the most popular furniture trends both internationally and nationally. This trend sits very well with the world of bespoke furniture where a curators of interior spaces have great scope to include varying interesting pieces which shows off their own individual personality and taste. It also goes hand in hand with the opportunity to replace pieces of furniture one by one or to build your collection of bespoke pieces gradually. ·        

Mid-century Modern Show November 2018

Over the last number of years modern shows have given buyers an excellent opportunity to source the finest interior pieces from the golden age of design by staging a series of one day furniture fairs. These shows are not just an excuse to visit amazing host buildings but to see them furnished with mid century gems alongside the work of up and coming contemporary designers. The next show on their agenda is the Mid Century Modern show at Dulwich College, South London on Sunday November 18th 2018. This fair is a biannual event and is held in the brutalist Christison Hall, a light and airy mid century building created in the 1960’s from concrete and brick. This apt setting will play host to 85 sellers made up of dealers of furniture and interior products from the modernist era and 25 contemporary designers. These designers will be showcasing products ranging from ceramics, to wallpaper and from cushions to furniture and I am very happy to announce that I will be included among them.

This show is an exciting opportunity as it allows me to bring my work to a new audience and also affords me the opportunity to showcase the new pieces I have been working on this year. The prism coffee table pictured below is one of the pieces that will be on display at the fair and this has been a popular piece with clients during the year with variations having been made to order in a range of sizes and in a selection of species including Walnut, Cherry (as shown), Wenge and Ash.

Other pieces to be showcased on the day include, the Amplex Chair in ebonized Oak and grey Leather (shown at bottom), a Fleure side Table in European Oak, an Eala lamp and a Fleure Coffee Table in English Ash.

The fair is open from 10 am until 4 pm and tickets cost £10 with pre-show discounts available from the show website. For further details or to purchase tickets please click on the show poster image above. If you decide to attend please come by to say Hi.

Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design 2018

The celebration of craftsmanship and design returns to Cheltenham again this year for its 24th instalment. This is the largest exhibition of contemporary designer maker furniture is the UK runs from the 18th to 27th August 2018 in the Thirlestaine Long gallery at Cheltenham college.

The show brings together 70 of the best designer makers of bespoke furniture in the country which is complimented by craftspeople who work in other disciplines such as ceramics, jewellery and glass.

Exhibits are carefully curated within the impressive buildings of Cheltenham college offering visitors the opportunity to view over 200 pieces from makers in the UK, Ireland and even further afield.  Each year, exhibitors only present work which is new to the exhibition ensuring that the show offers a different experience each year.

The Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design also offers visitors the chance to meet and chat with the makers, to find out more about them and their practice. It also enables them to learn first hand about pieces they may be interested in purchasing or about the commissioning process 


I am very happy to be exhibitions at the show again this year as I have done each year since establishing my practice. Exhibiting at the show is a yearly goal to aspire towards, enabling me to design and create three new pieces.

 For me personally it is a highlight of the working year for a number of reasons. It is always very enjoyable to catch up with fellow makers and see what new creations they have been working on. It is also an excellent opportunity to chat with visitors, to discuss the work on display and to gain feedback about my own pieces.

Fleure Side Table in Oak will be on display at this years Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design

Fleure Side Table in Oak will be on display at this years Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design

This year I will be exhibiting the following pieces:

Fleure Side Table

A single-legged side table created from European Oak. Supported by its waterfall inspired leg this piece reflects the erosive properties of flowing water and its ability to shape our landscape. (shown above)

Amplex Chair

A lounge chair created from European Oak with an ebonised finish clad with a grey leather seat and backrest. Designed with the intention of catching the users eye, inviting  them to sit, relax and enjoy their surroundings.

Eala Lamp

Mid Century Modern in style, this table lamp takes its name from the Irish word for swan in reference to its avian aesthetic. It is created from European Oak with an ebonised finish adorned with a turned Oak lampshade. The lampshade is finished on its internal face with gilded copper providing a warm glowing reflection.

Retrospect Side-tables in Walnut

One of the latest pieces we have created which have been on display this summer at New Designers One Year On and at the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design, Cheltenham is the Retrospect Side-Table. This side-table, the second instalment in the Retrospect series of furniture is inspired by Scandinavian mid-century design. It pays particular homage to atomic age design of the 1960's and 1970's.

A playful piece with a dynamic aesthetic, its design with a main “body” supported by four curved legs aims to give the impression that the piece has the ability to move or may just have been moving before being viewed.

Retrospect Side-Tables

Retrospect Side-Tables

It is also intended to be a utilitarian and versatile piece that can be used in various rooms within a building. It is as well suited for use as a bedside table as an occasional table in a lounge or sitting room.

Corner Detail of the mitre joint reinforced with splines.

Corner Detail of the mitre joint reinforced with splines.

The storage box that acts as the main body of the piece is created from solid American Black walnut. Mitre joints on the corners give the piece a clean, crisp and simplistic appearance which is accented with Ash splines which are not just decorative but also perform the function of locking the joint together.

This box is open at both ends allowing items stored within to be accessed easily from either side and are seen more easily as they illuminated by the light which is allowed to pass through.

CCD Selection @ Craft Central 16th - 20th May 2017

I am delighted to be be a part of of the CCD Selection @ Craft Central which runs from Tuesday to Sunday of next week. The exhibition is a pre-cursor to its big sister, the celebration of craftsmanship and design that will take place again this year at the Thirlestaine Long Gallery in Cheltenham from 19th - 28th August. 

This weeks exhibition previews the Cheltenham show by including the work of 22 craftspeople from around the country. I am looking forward to the show not only as an exhibitor but also as a viewer in anticipation of what the other craftspeople will have created. the show consists predominantly of furniture but includes other disciplines also such as jewellery and ceramics.

Click on image for more information on the exhibition

Click on image for more information on the exhibition

The pieces on display are all for sale at the show and it gets underway on Tuesday 16th with a "meet the maker" event from 3 to 7 pm where all the craftspeople will be on hand for a chat. the exhibition runs through until Saturday and is open from noon until 7 pm each day. It is held at Craft Central, 31-35 St Johns Square, Clerkenwell London, EC1M 4DS. 


At the show I will be a set of two side tables and a mirror which are the second and third instalments in the retrospect series of furniture pieces. They are created from American Black walnut and are inspired by the atomic style of furniture and design from the middle of the last century. The image below gives a little preview of the style of the pieces.

Retrospect side-table under construction

Retrospect side-table under construction

House Beautiful March 2017

House Beautiful Magazine Cover March 2017

House Beautiful Magazine Cover March 2017

The March issue of House Beautiful Magazine is now on sale and we are delighted that our Retrospect sideboard has been included in the "New Seasons Trends" advertorial which can be viewed in the image below.

It is exciting to see one of our products among such a lovely array of household products. We especially love the animal print collection from 

The sideboard which is featured is created from solid walnut and features a bank of drawers which have been created using traditional hand-cut dovetail joints. It also features red trim between the cabinets and on the cabinet and drawer interiors. 2017 will see the retrospect range expand with sideboards made from different species of wood and with different coloured trim. It is also our aim to create Retrospect entirely from Birch Plywood which we feel will really compliment its Scandinavian aesthetic. This version will sit at the other end of the cost scale from our walnut version meaning that a clients can tailor their sideboard to suit their budget without compromising on style or on quality.

As with any of our products Retrospect are manufactured to order and for this reason each sideboard can be as individual as those who will use it for years to come. To find out more about our bespoke commissioning service click on the image below. 

As seen in GQ Magazine November 2016: Retrospect sideboard

Retrospect Sideboard can be seen in this months GQ magazine

Retrospect Sideboard can be seen in this months GQ magazine

Should you browse through this months GQ magazine keep an eye out for Retrospect Sideboard. Since been exhibited first at the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design in August 2016 the sideboard has received lots of interest. Orders are being taken at present for the limited edition run of 50 pieces. Clients can customise their sideboards by specifying the species of wood and contrast colour they desire. Click on the image below for further details

Retrospect Sideboard in Walnut

Retrospect Sideboard in Walnut