By Regina Connell.
You need something spectacular for the nest. Something different. Something you.
But you just don’t do mass retail, and all that implies. Nor are you one of the “hire an interior decorator” crowd. You’re not really the DIY type, and besides, you suspect that whipping up a sofa, table, or bed is best left to the professionals. There are galleries, but they’re not in the business of customizing things. (It’s art, darling.) And Etsy and Artful Home just aren’t your thing.
So what about custom? Well, yes. But. There was that custom table you had done a few years back. You liked working with the maker, but you’re Not Quite Sure about it. Something got lost in the process.
This is why you’re still living with that empty space in the corner, not to mention that vaguely tragic light fixture you bought a few years back.
Convenient (online, all in one place), well-designed, custom (meeting your specific needs, aesthetic and values) AND artisanal (where you can engage with the maker) haven’t really come together in any meaningful way.
Bespoke Global describes itself as the first online marketplace for internationally-sourced bespoke home furnishings and accessories.
Founders Gwen Carlson and Pippa McArdle are passionate about design, and Bespoke Global matches up a rigorously selected set of talented designer/makers with customers who want exceptional work: a match made in heaven.
What we love about them: they bring the artisan to the fore in their relationships with clients, and that’s different, and important.
Says Pippa, “Our aim is to elevate everyone. Our focus is to keep and looking for artists and designers from all over the world and to really keep building a great clientele that’s looking for bespoke work.”
With clients mostly in North America but also Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Latin America, (and many of them repeat customers) it’s clear they’ve tapped into a client base that’s been hungry for what they’re offering.
Gwen and Pippa are thoroughly passionate about great technique, and exceptional craftsmanship. At the same time, they’re deeply invested in and committed to the spirit – and not-always-pretty reality – of collaboration between the buyer and the artisan.
It’s also their eye that makes a difference: they have a great sense of design and craft. It’s warm, modern, and knowing. They feature beautiful and often ingenious furniture, lighting, rugs, textiles, and accessories by artisans such as glassmaker Heather Palmer (see her profile here), metalworker Darcy Miro, woodworker Michael Coffey, and UK-based furniture maker Paul Kelly.
(We’re so in love with the desk below: a blue acrylic cube conceals a secret desk arrangement when the panel is pulled away, revealing a leather chair, and polished mahogany drawers and filing cabinet.)
Prior to founding Bespoke Global, Gwen was a lighting designer with a global A-list clientele. In the course of her work with clients, she was always being asked to find other people who could do great custom work. Pippa worked at Starwood developing globals brands, but her background is in design. The two friends got together, and hey presto, history was made. Well, it wasn’t quite like that: Bespoke Global was several years in the making. And it shows.
The artisan is very much at the heart of the process: in fact, commissioners of work can see videos of their pieces being made. Pippa points out: “We pride ourselves on understanding the creative process. This is the way we select and curate.”
As curators, they’re tough. They say no, a lot. “Anytime you’re building a platform, you have to be careful,” says Pippa. ”We hope to be a trusted source, so we do our homework on our artisans. We talk to them, video them, take a lot of time to get to know them. We want to make sure that every client and artist that works with us has a great experience.”
This is particularly important because not all clients understand the creative process, and not all artisans are ready for the give and take of the custom job. The artisans that do thrive on the challenge and the process of problem solving and working through multiple considerations.
Bespoke Global’s also expanding and enlarging what they do as a business. First up, Be:Sotted, an exclusive collection designed by Gwen. What we love is that Gwen’s brought together different artisans and had them extend their talents to areas they might not have in the past.
Example? The Be:Sotted collection features work by, among others, Heather Palmer, who worked with Gwen to extend her work (for the first time) to lighting. The result? The glorious Blue Sea Fan.
Another example we love? The Yanagi Drum with Maki Yamamoto. Known for her highly developed knowledge of fabric and instinct for color, the artist worked with Gwen to create unique fabric drum lighting, inspired by Maki’s Yanagi fabric creations.
Like so many online enterprises, they’ve also gone offline, by opening a Summer Store in Southampton, NY. (We do love the idea of a store just open for the season. Very civilized.)
What keeps the Bespoke Global team going is the end result. “Everyone works really hard to make something incredible. Our favorite part of the process is when the work comes in: you open the box, and you get that tingle, that feeling of wonder,” sighs Pippa. “That’s what makes it worthwhile.”
Kudos to Gwen and Pippa for creating and nurturing a community of connoisseurs, and a smart, savvy platform for makers.
All images courtesy of Bespoke Global