January 2011 was a landmark date for me. After many years of writing about the sort of furniture and accessories people might want to buy for their home, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and design my own range.
It all came about at a chance meeting with the owners of Made.com, the website that has made a name for itself by selling design led furniture at manufacturer’s prices. During a lively conversation about the ethos behind the website, it soon became clear that we shared very similar views on the importance of being able to offer the consumer something that was beautiful to look at, well made and great value.
Before I realized quite what was happening, I was offered the chance to design my own range of furniture for the site, and took up the challenge. The really strange thing was that as soon as I sat down to work at it, I had the clearest idea of what I wanted to design – a sofa and chair collection that aimed to bring together comfort and effortless elegance. The idea of sophisticated country chic came to me – something in a moss green tweed with contemporary piping.
Having had no formal training as a designer, I got to work producing mood sheets and ideas, then collaborated with made.com’s chief designer to refine the technical elements behind the construction. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the creativity of actually making something come off the page. December 16th was D Day, as we travelled to Nottingham to see the prototype (I was very keen that it should be made in the UK, mostly to prove that it could be done and still be price competitive). My heart leapt as I saw the chair for the first time, then sank as I realized that the shape wasn’t quite right. Six cushion incarnations later, I felt we’d nailed it, and The Wolseley Collection was born.
2011 arrived and in late Jan I travelled to Shepperton Studios in Twickenham for the photoshoot. And there they were – the three seater sofa, two seater sofa and chair in all their glory. We spent all afternoon photographing them, including a few shots of me beaming all over my face! We also made a video talking about the creative process and what I felt were the major selling points of the range. A few days later, at the end of January 2011, the range went live on Made.com – and we sold our first three seater a few hours later. It was a truly great feeling, and six years on, The Wolseley, now in several colours and fabrics, is still going strong.