Colour is important to Nell Beale. Reading like a pantone chart of block colour set against natural wood tones, her CoucouManou designer furniture range makes the word artisan both slick and functional whilst keeping its organic roots.
Beale has actually been designing bespoke furniture for luxury household names for 18 years, so CoucouManou’s fledging age as a brand – launching earlier this year – disguises years of experience honing her craft.
CoucouManou’s style is quirky and evocative, which explains why the pieces evade the definition of adult or child pieces so effortlessly. From the boulder display units to the accessories like the candlesticks and coasters (great Christmas gifts by the way!), the shapes are curved and relaxed, and we’ve already talked about the colour. The materials are high quality, all hand finished in eco-friendly paint, oil or wax in Nell’s Bath workshop.
Flux spoke to Nell about launching CoucouManou, and her artisan approach to design and build.
FLUX: What made you decide to set up your own furniture design company?
NELL BEALE: Designing and making freestanding and fitted furniture for private clients is something I have been doing now for the past 18 years. I have reached a point where I want to concentrate solely on designing my own collection on spec, rather than to commission, so that I have free reign in the designs.
FLUX: What materials do you use?
NB: We mainly use high quality sheet materials such as veneered birch plywood and a material called Valchromat which is the black board used in the Boulder Range. Every piece is finished by hand using water based paints & toluene free waxes.
FLUX: Where are the items designed and made?
NB: The pieces are all designed by me whenever the inspiration takes me. I start with sketches and then move onto the computer to draw up the designs in CAD. They are currently made by myself in the CoucouManou workshop near Bath but as the company grows we will form an in-house workshop team.
FLUX: Is there a common thread that makes a piece stand out as a CoucouManou piece?
NB: I suppose the obvious theme is the colour that runs through virtually every piece. I do get enormously excited by colours! All the pieces have a look of simplicity to them as well, clean lines and bold shapes.
FLUX: Did you study furniture design? How did you first get into it?
NB: I studied on an HND Furniture Design course at Shrewsbury college between 1992 to 1994. That’s a scarily long time ago! It taught me an awful lot about cabinet making and design. Previously to that, I did a City & Guilds Joinery Skills course for a year which is where I discovered I was rather good at it.
FLUX: Do you have your own favourite piece of furniture in your home or office ?
NB: Well, I do have a pot cupboard that belonged to my Granny that I’m very fond of but unfortunately it resides in our house in France as we couldn’t fit it in the van when we moved back to the UK. So, in my home, it has to be the Green/blue Boulder Display unit!
For more information or to buy CoucouManou see www.coucoumanou.com