Furniture is Style, Not Fashion

One of Britain's top furniture companies has arrived stateside this week, as Mark Wilkinson opened his first American showroom in New York on Thursday.

Located at 7 Hanover Square in the Financial District, the luxury furniture store includes several sample kitchen layouts, ranging from modern to an English country house. Who would have known you could have a kitchen drawer just for cakes? Wilkinson says he settled on New York because it "is the most vibrant, wildest town. We found some people we trust and get along with it. Its as simple as that." One of those people was Mary Brouder Murphy, a high-end interior designer who got started at high-end design companies in Ireland, before starting her own business in Ridgeway, New Jersey about 10 years ago. Murphy said they approached Wilkinson last year because of the fine detail in his work. She also shared a love of Lower Manhattan as it has become more residential in recent years, making it a good spot for a furniture showroom.

Wilkinson commenced his furniture business in 1981, and the brand has grown to 14 exclusive showrooms in the United Kingdom and locations in Paris and Moscow. And beyond that, his clientele has expanded to Britain's top celebrities and members of the British monarchy.

The high-end collections span across a spectrum of different styles, including "Mai," which is influenced by the Japanese Third Sung Dynasty, the 15th Century Gothic and 18th Century fine English furniture. However, one constant is that the styles remain timeless. "We don’t produce fashion," he says, "We produce real living styles of furniture."

The company also places a strong emphasis on social responsibility. For instance, they exclusively use hard wood with World Wildlife Fund certification, including American White Oak and Maple. Most timber used is bought from North America, imported to Britain where the furniture is made, and then sold back into the United States. As Wilkinson's clientele base has grown enormously in the last few decades, reducing their carbon footprint has become a priority. "The more we clients we have, the more timber we use, the more we take on the responsibility of planting," the British designer says. The company plants two trees for every order.

While Wilkinson's work is in luxury furniture stores in several major American cities, plans for additional exclusive showrooms are still in the works. "We haven’t got plans to do any more openings at the moment, but we have discussed the possibility," he concludes with a chuckle.

Photo Courtesy: Mark Wilkinson Furniture

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