Describing the CABINETS, tables, chairs and writing desks of Grazyna Solland as “furniture” seems barely adequate. They might be functional pieces, designed to be used, but they also display the passion and the sensibility of a fine artist who expresses herself through her sculptural art furniture.
“At the core of each piece is a concept,” says Grazyna Solland. “There’s always an idea that lifts it way above functionality and places it firmly in the 21st century.” These are architectural sculptures, using spectacular shapes, striking colours and high levels of British craftsmanship.
Gallery Sollands in London’s Mayfair has been the home to Grazyna’s designs for almost three decades. It showcases her Gra collection of art furniture – varied, individual bespoke pieces that combine classic quality and modernism. Mirrors abound in the gallery, revealing a perfection of finish, including on the surfaces not normally on view. Where the upper surface of a desk or table gleams with numerous layers of polished lacquer, so too does the hidden under-surface. Run your fingers beneath and the finish is as silky smooth and unblemished as the top.
“There is no wrong way round for our furniture,” says Grazyna. “Their complete finish is impressive from any angle. Even the drawers are finished and lacquered to our very high standard. The level of detail is outstanding: pieces are strong, sculptural, elegant and built to last.”
What also defines Grazyna’s work is the extraordinary quality of the craftsmanship – seamless dovetails, delicate marquetry and exceptional levels of hand-finishing. Sollands uses fine materials – burr woods, semi-precious stones and sterling silver, registered with Grazyna’s own official assay mark – and the work is redolent of a past age of uncompromising luxury and opulence.
“Designing each piece is an incredibly long process, and one that goes through many stages,” Grazyna explains. “First, I’ll sketch the idea until I’m happy with what I’m looking at as a drawing. Then we will sit down and work out the technical details. After the prototyping stages, various adjustments and amendments often need to be made to a design before it is finally achieved as a reality.” This process becomes evident as you look at the clean circular chair back which appears to float unfixed above the seat of a chair, or the highly decorative marquetry seamlessly covering all sides of a tall, majestic display unit.
Sollands has also worked on a select number of residential projects in the UK (including several Grade 1 and Grade 2-listed houses) and overseas. The firm has received praise from English Heritage for its work on a 36,000 square feet major refurbishment of a residence that was described as a “private palace”. “These projects require a high level of input, creativity and skill,” says Grazyna. “As a result they are as unique as our art furniture.”
To achieve the originality and guarantee the finesse needed, Sollands established its atelier in the Norfolk countryside in 2002. Here a group of exceptional, experienced craftspeople work to realize Grazyna’s designs. Only by having such a single-purposed establishment can she truly flex her creative wings and achieve her most original dreams.