Vamping up vintage design

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Copy of David Llewelyn large chest [1] . David Llewelyn large serpentine chest, R14 200.

Johannesburg - If you love ornate Louis XV furniture, take a look at the David Llewelyn collection which launched in South Africa last November. This is French-style furniture splashed with colour, and although you might balk at the idea, it actually works. Beautifully.

At the heart of this collection’s appeal is the bold, artful skill of its creator, Roy Griffiths, owner of David Llewelyn Furniture.

He’s a guru in gilding techniques, and with his new brand, he’s doing what he does best, on a bigger scale than ever. “I’ve been working on classics for many years now, but doing just a piece here and there in homes that I have decorated,” he says.

The David Llewelyn collection is inspired by an international trend – namely customising semi-classic furniture with colour – that Griffiths observed in Paris last year. “They are favouring furniture with more straight lines. Instead, I’ve adapted the trend to apply to exact replicas of French classics,” he says.

Although such a bold treatment of classics is “a huge step for the South African market”, Griffiths says locals are getting more and more exposure to international trends and are becoming more adventurous.

“South Africa also has very talented decorators who do international work, and they’re on top of the European trends,” he says.

Copy of David Llewelyn jacobean drawer [1] David Llewelyn 3 drawer Jacobean low boy, R7 400. .

David Llewelyn furniture is made from a combination of mahogany and mhindi timbers and stained with rich walnut tones. Customers then have the freedom to spec their furniture with the finish they desire.

They can choose any combinations of colour, and there are 15 shades of colour to choose from. In other words, no two David Llewelyn pieces are alike in style and customisation.

Griffiths says the furniture comes from Europe, and then clients tell him how they would like the pieces customised. “I advise them on classics that would suit the setting. The furniture never dates, so it’s worth spending a little bit more on, say, a piece for a reception,” he says.

New designs and pieces are regularly added to the David Llewelyn collection, with the current collection illustrating a variety of highly specialised finishing techniques that are new and fresh in the South African market.

The pieces include bedside tables, chests of draws, corner chairs, bookstands, dressing tables, drinks trolleys, drop-leaf tables, gate-leg folding tables, Georgian Canterburys (open-topped racks), coffee tables and occasional chairs.

“Furniture is my passion and I love classics. I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” says Griffiths, who says he comes from a background “surrounded by grand design”. An understatement, given that he’s the son of David and Gladys Griffiths of Griffiths & Griffiths in Kramerville, the premier suppliers of solid mahogany English replica furniture in South Africa.

Copy of David Llewelyn drop leaf table [1] David Llewelyn drop leaf table, R5 900. .

Griffiths is formally educated as an interior designer, and much of his career spanning 13 years was spent in the family business, where he has conceptualised, designed and decorated both residential and corporate properties for a list of influential clients.

“As part of my evolution as a designer, I needed to develop and design my own range of furniture. Hence the David Llewelyn brand,” he says.

The uptake of his take on vintage French furniture has proved his instinct right. “It’s taken off exceptionally well. I have had so much fun branding and establishing something new,” he says.

He has now designed and developed a new range of pieces that are personal favourites, due to arrive in April.

To see his newest products, you can log into the David Llewelyn page on Facebook. “I am also bringing in stock of all my products in plain rich walnut colours for those who are not mad about the colours, so I am covering all my bases,” he says. - Daily News

* See the furniture online at

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