WHEN you think of marquetry, what springs to mind? Grand old National Trust properties, antique family heirlooms and traditional Victorian furniture?
Well, it may be time to think again, because the mystical realm of marquetry is being brought bang up to date right in the heart of Llandrindod Wells.
Walking around the Radnorshire headquarters of Aryma Marquetry, it seems fitting that a famous Victorian style of design is being revived in a town which had its own renaissance during Queen Victoria’s reign.
Hundreds of years later, the world’s rich and famous (and those who really love their interior design) are still commissioning impressive works of marquetry, explained managing director at Aryma, Howard Sansome.
“These are statement pieces which make a strong visual impact,” said Howard, who came in as managing director of the Llandrindod-based business six years ago.
“I had a business in London but I was looking for a small company to work for,” he said.
“I was very interested in art history and had taken marquetry courses.
“It wasn’t until a carpenter who was working at my house spotted one of my pieces and mentioned ‘a small company in Wales’ that I took a strong interest.
“The company was then making small pieces, and I was keen to orientate in a different direction, towards bigger jobs,” he said.
“My aim is to inspire people well in excess of what they think of as marquetry, what they think are the limits of what is possible.”
Traditionally marquetry was used in Victorian furniture which was then churned out to the mass market, but that process has changed, Howard explained.
“You can’t make it cheaply. It takes a long time and a lot of skill. Getting the design to the right place, that’s very important.”
For a company operating out of rural Mid Wales, Aryma already have an impressive portfolio of work under their belt, including pieces for Stella McCartney, Jet Aviation, Rolls Royce, Royal Van Lent who make luxury ‘mega yachts’, and the Orient Express.
The company even has a client who wishes to replicate the famous ‘trompe l’oeil’ at the Ducal Palace in Urbino, Italy, an entire room of flat wooden panels made to look 3D.
They work with some of the most expensive woods in the world, include amboyna, a luxury veneer.
Wherever possible, the veneers used are from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) registered companies.
Their location outside London means they have had to fight a little bit harder, Howard said.
“We are physically removed, so networking and attending monthly meetings with cabinet makers and interior designs is difficult,” he said.
“But we have email, with modern technology it’s not insurmountable.”
Far from being isolated, Aryma have just hosted a royal visit by His Royal Highness Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who were very impressed with the facilities at the Ddole Road Business Park.
“It was a nice recognition,” said Howard.
“It’s a daily slog for us as in every business and Prince Charles recognises quality.
“We’re working on a gift for him, made from wood from his own estate. He’s very keen on feeding red squirrels so we’re making an English nut feeding box.”
The past 12 months have not been easy for the business, given the economic climate.
“We’re fortunate in that our clients are relatively immune to that,” Howard explained.
“We’re working with architects and keeping in touch with modern trends.
“Slowly but surely we’re gaining a reputation in London and there is no one else in the world to touch what we do.”