Working with Wood by Tim Gosling

Timber is our material focus during September. We spoke with British furniture designer Tim Gosling about his innovative use of timber alongside exciting inorganic materials. It was Tim’s material selection that caught the eye of of the Furniture Makers Company earning him a Bespoke Guild Mark for the Gosling carbon fibre lounge tub chair and a finalist in the Manufacturing Guild Mark Export Awards. 

Working with wood can be unpredictable. It is essential to consider the effects of time and the environment on organic material. Light coloured woods become dark and dark woods become light. Think about the medieval black woods, they were all once a wonderfully light, vibrant honey colour.

Tim Photo

When using woods in my designs I always factor in how they will transform and evolve with the multiple environmental factors and conditions they are exposed to. The reassuring quality of some of the contemporary materials, like carbon fibre and metal, is they won’t change at all. I love working with an eclectic palette of materials, combining cutting edge inorganic materials with natural woods. There are many creative ways to manipulate the combination of materials to create exceptional designs. The contrast can be truly innovative and dynamic. Design, whether it is furniture or interiors is all about the management of colour and the way light reflects and refracts off the surfaces. This should be a major design consideration when combining materials with different textures and surfaces.

It is a great personal honour to be awarded the Bespoke Guild Mark for the Gosling carbon fibre lounge tub chair, which was based on the luxury liners of the 1930’s. Using carbon fibre and marine-grade stainless steel we were able to create the most wonderful compound curves, allowing the chair to fold into the base from different angles. Straight stainless-steel lines serve to add a sense of visual harmony and to accentuate the angle of the chair backs. The more traditional teak wood surface on top of the carbon fibre relates the piece to the deck, giving this contemporary piece a nod to the classical. The sheen and brilliance of the all-craft white paint and the ability to see our trademark black carbon fibre stripe is in direct contrast to the teak figuring and natural wood on the surface. I love the combination of contemporary and classic furniture design.

Tub Chair 7x5

We had the privilege of working on the restoration of a house, originally designed by G E Street, best known for his Gothic-style Law Courts on The Strand, London. Working with Ian Adam Smith and Victoria Fairfax, the room’s design is that of a jewel box and is made from the most exceptional materials – verre eglomise panels, mother-of-pearl shagreen hand-dyed a special denim blue and set into a framework of English oak. The dressing table has a frieze of shagreen and mother-of-pearl with hand-blown and cut-crystal handles. The ability to combine such incredible materials is design ‘alchemy’ and I am passionate about continuing to push the boundaries of old and new materials. My studio is an Aladdin’s Cave of wood and contemporary material samples, which are a huge inspirational source for my design team.

Gosling 08/07/2013

In my dining room I have mahogany circular dining table, which sits on a fluted column on a raised quadripartite base. The top is made from ebony inlaid into slip-matched flame mahogany. A series of eight, Romanoff crests have been inlaid into the ebony using a traditional Boulle technique. The Romanoff crests are in polished brass in laid into the ebony. They were based on a set of engraved glasses I brought back from St Petersburg.


I get so much inspiration from museums around the world. My two favourite sources are the Sir John Soane’s Museum and the Wallace Collection. Both have influenced me in my designs and use of materials and colour. The Wallace Collection has the most remarkable restoration department, headed up by Jurgen Huber, who is the font of all knowledge on materials, glues and craftsmanship of the remarkable marquetry pieces created in France for Louis X1V, XV and XV1. I was deeply honoured and thrilled to have the opportunity to make a short film for the Wallace Collection. Please join me on an inspirational tour here 

Contact Tim Gosling Design

About Alys Bryan

Alys' experience as a furniture designer, along with her in-depth marketing knowledge, makes her uniquely placed to work with the BCFA as the Editor of Design Insider and run her marketing business, Method Communications.
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