Introducing the Brand New Limited Edition Britannia Range by DFS
Last week I took a trip with some blogger colleagues to Derbyshire for a glimpse behind the scenes at DFS and in particular to view their stunning, brand new limited edition range of furniture called ‘Britannia’ which launches today!
‘What’s so special about this collection?’ I hear you ask. Well, apart from the sheer level of craftsmanship, which I shall go into shortly, the range is specially created for Team GB athletes competing at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio. As the official homeware partner for Team GB, DFS recognised the importance of athletes resting between competitions and wanted to ensure they could relax in complete comfort during their down time. Hence the Britannia range was created and will feature in the headquarters of Team GB over in Rio this summer.
The other great thing about this Team GB/DFS partnership is that you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to enjoy this furniture! It will be available for the public to purchase (in a four, three or two seater sofa, accent chair and footstool) during the next six months only. Just imagine the thrill of watching the Games from the comfort of your brand new Britannia sofa or chair, cheering on Team GB!
On our press trip we got to see these pieces being made on the production line. It was fascinating to watch and I was amazed at the amount of skilled hand-crafting that goes into them. Because DFS is a large, well known company that sells huge amounts of furniture, I imagined that everything would be made by machine, but that’s not the case. Of course there is cutting machinery, but a great deal of hand building and finishing goes on – and not forgetting the team of talented machinists who manage to make intricate sewing look easy. I’m sure it isn’t!
What I also learned about DFS is that every piece of furniture is made to order and can be turned around in approximately three weeks, which is pretty impressive, and the Britannia range in particular demands the sort of attention to detail that can only be performed by skilled furniture makers and upholsterers.
Firstly the top quality ply and Scandinavian wood frame is enveloped in layers of comfy foam and padding, before being upholstered in a beautiful fabric, specially created for this project in collaboration with UK furnishing and upholstery experts, Art of the Loom. It’s a viscose-linen blend with characteristic natural slubs, giving each and every piece of furniture its own individuality.
The buttoned back is extremely intricate to create that diamond effect and the brass studded detailing is hand applied. These details finish off the range exquisitely, as do the gorgeous turned oak feet, brass castors and handmade gold buttons.
This furniture really does ooze class and style and cleverly manages to look timeless yet modern.
After our factory tour, I was excited to visit the DFS Design Studio to discover the thought processes behind the design and understand all the stages of production from initial sketches to building a prototype, before the final finished piece hits the DFS showroom or lands in Rio.
I was not disappointed; the design studio was a lovely light and bright creative space where we got to meet DFS Design Director, Philip Watkins plus Art of the Loom owner, Andrew Thornber who has worked extremely closely with DFS on this project and many others. It was great to hear them speak passionately about their work and also to catch a glimpse of their other collaborations and latest inspiration mood boards while we were there, too.
But of course the main talking point was the Britannia range. I loved looking at the concept board and learning how the Philip and his colleagues decided to take an iconic Chesterfield and give it an eclectic-modern twist, with a gently dipping back and that linen-blend upholstery rather than traditional leather. The handmade gold buttons, turned oak feet and brass castors are stunning embellishments that add more than a touch of luxury – whilst the brass studs are an inspired finishing touch, with a special story of their own: every accent chair features 233 gold studs, each representing one of the gold medals Team GB has won in Summer Olympic Games to date. Such a thoughtful detail!
The accompanying sofa cushions are equally unique. When we talk of Team GB, we tend to think of the Union Jack emblem, so the design team worked it subtly into scatter cushions:
I also love the Olympic design of this fabric, again created in partnership with Art of the Loom, for another sofa cushion:
What I admire most about the design of the Britannia range is that it is so versatile; I think it would suit a classic period property or a more modern home equally. It would also look amazing in an industrial loft space!
Before the day was finished, the other bloggers (Jen @ Love Chic Living, Victoria @ Apartment No. 4, Anneli @ Anneli Bush, Jess @ The Only Girl in the House and Jaclyn @ Bumpkin Betty) and I all got the chance to be a bit more ‘hands on’ and have a go at some upholstery, on our very own chairs! DFS are kindly gifting each of us an accent chair as a souvenir of our visit, so I can’t wait to see it in my home when it arrives – look out for that! It was extremely satisfying work, I can tell you – operating a powered staple gun was great fun and so absorbing. But hammering in those brass studs in a straight line was harder than you might think…
People say you can’t buy class, but with the Britannia I believe you can. Not only that, you can grab yourself a little piece of Olympic Games memorabilia, since every piece carries a special stitched plaque on the back – the first DFS furniture range to carry such a badge. The quality and craftsmanship truly celebrates and reflects the excellence, dedication and hard work of Team GB – what a fitting tribute and a Great British Partnership.
Huge thanks to DFS for their hospitality and inviting me to be a part of this inspiring day!