In the summer of 2014 I had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with Sir Paul Smith on 'The Wish List', a project by the American Hardwood Export Council, Sir Terence Conran and Benchmark Furniture as part of the London Design Festival at the V&A. Asked "What I have always wanted is..." Paul commissioned me to design and make his ideal shed, somewhere you can go to switch off and relax. Taking inspiration from the black fishermen's huts in Hastings, Luis Barragan's iconic window in his house in Mexico and George Bernard Shaw's rotating writing hut, we decided to make the shed 3m by 3m, the size of Paul's first shop in Nottingham. The whole shed was made in a single material, rough sawn thermo-treated ash, a new type of heat-treated timber that allows ash to be used outside, with just one strip of bright green metal as a magnetic stop for the door. The traditional joinery and shiplap cladding are reminiscent of beautiful barns, and the huge house shaped Crittall window at the end frames the view. The whole shed was put on a pivoting base, to allow the shed to be rotated so it can follow the sun.
Interior by Paul Smith and Nicholas Chandor
Interior by Paul Smith and Nicholas Chandor
Commenting on why he chose to work with Nathalie, Paul said, ‘In this highly commercialised world it is so nice to discover someone who is so hands on, not only in terms of her design but also in the making of her furniture. Nathalie’s understanding of the materials she works with is really amazing, she combines this with fantastic craftsmanship to make something truly contemporary.’
Nathalie and Paul working on the shed in Paul's studio
Nathalie and Paul working on the shed in Paul's studio
The shed is made from thermo-treated ash
The shed is made from thermo-treated ash
Nathalie in the workshop at Benchmark Furniture
Nathalie in the workshop at Benchmark Furniture
Paul and Nathalie turning the shed at the London Design Festival launch in the garden at the V&A
Film by Petr Krejci
Designed by Nathalie de Leval and Paul Smith
Structural engineering by Andrew Lawrence at Ove Arup
Built by Nathalie de Leval and the team at Benchmark Furniture in thermo-treated ash
Interior by Paul Smith and Nicholas Chandor
Photographed by Petr Krejci