Petter Bjørn Southall
Award-winning designer craftsman Petter Southall has been making his distinctive furniture at his studio outside Bridport since 1991. Originally from Norway, he makes his designs using an innovative combination of boat-building and fine cabinet-making techniques. View Petter’s furniture currently in stock.
Or go straight to Petter’s website: pettersouthall.com
Lattice Chair in ash with veg-tanned red Tuscan leather. A very fine chair built up from laminated slats to create a light, flexible and very strong structure.
Petter Southall’s astonishing steam-bent Wave was designed and made for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 as part of garden designer Tom Hoblyn’s Dubai Majlis show garden.
Designed and made by Petter Southall in 30-foot-long solid Douglas Fir, as far as we know this is the most radical steam-bent form ever constructed. Place it to frame a view or give shelter from the prevailing wind as a place of tranquility, a performance space, a sculptural feature and a beautiful focal point. Designer Petter Southall will help to install it successfully in its next incarnation.
The Wave is now available to buy and install into its permanent setting. Please contact the gallery on firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire. £poa
‘The studio produces everything from chairs to beds – all with a readily identifiable aesthetic… The result is a range of furniture, exquisite in its simplicity, that is richly reflective of boat-building traditions in so many subtle ways. Finishes are natural, created by oil and soap and designed to weather comfortably.’ – Paul Atterbury in ‘Antiques of the Future’, BBC Homes & Antiques
Petter’s designs have a distinctive Scandinavian confidence. He works in unique beautiful pieces of oak, ash, elm and other Northern European hardwoods, often using wood sourced from the area local to his customers. He specialises in steam bending thick solid boards into the arches, twists, curves and rings that are so striking in his designs. His work is built to last, using immaculate craftsmanship and attention to detail. His through-joinery creates the decorative effect in most of his designs. Petter is conscious of the health-giving qualities of natural materials and works hard to avoid emissions by using as little glue as possible and working mostly in solid timber or where necessary cutting his own veneers. His polishes are natural oils and waxes but he also offers a tactile washed finish which is very smooth surface with nothing between you and the wood. This can be kept clean by washing and over time builds up a beautiful natural patina. His furniture is made to last and be passed on through generations, in use bringing pleasure every day to the home, work place or public space.
Commissions include the directors’ dining room at the National Gallery, the boardroom for Barbican Art Gallery, reception and boardroom furniture for many different companies and corporations mainly in London & locally for Bridport Town Hall, LSI and Lyme Regis Philpot Museum. He has designed and made public art seating for Cambridge Science Park, the Wessex Ridgeway Sculpture Trail, Sanctuaries for Newton Abbott and Minehead Hospitals & the Macmillan Garden at Hereford Hospital. In 2019 his Wave Pavilion was commissioned for Tom Hoblyn’s Dubai Majlis Show Garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Garden. Private commissions have been numerous and varied, sometimes including milling and drying trees from clients’ own land.
‘Unadorned simplicity, coupled with extreme attention to detail and quality of workmanship’ – Mary Myers, Country Life
A peripatetic childhood lead Petter to study traditional wooden boatbuilding in his native Norway. At first he walked the fjords and islands of western Norway, working with the highly skilled old boatbuilders in their waterside boatsheds. He attended Jondal wooden boat building school and then was one of 8 young men taught to build the highly prized Oselvar Faering, an open sailing rowboat known as the Stradivarius of the sea. For ten years Petter built boats, running his own boatyard in Norway and later making yachts in Maine. He still sails his first Oselvar from West Bay harbour.
In 1984 Petter went to the College of the Redwoods in California to study cabinetmaking with James Krenov, the intuitive cabinetmaker. James Krenov’s influence was profound. He too loved the simple lines of boats and is quoted as saying, “There’s hardly a straight line on them, but there’s harmony. People think right angles produce harmony, but they don’t. They produce sleep.” Krenov had no time for over-elaborate, stained, or disproportionate furniture. He loved wood and saw the process of designing as composing in response to the individual character of the timber. His emphasis on the use of hand tools and light finishes have all contributed to Petter’s direct and honest language in wood.
In 1989 Petter came to UK to study sustainable design at John Makepeace’s forward-looking Hooke Park College. Already an outstanding woodworker, Petter benefitted from a high level of publicity and funding and lecturers from all parts of business and design. He graduated with commissions including a dining room for the sculptor Dame Elisabeth Frink and set up his i tre workshop at Chilcombe in West Dorset where he has worked ever since usually with a team of craftsmen and apprentices.
From 2001-4 Petter ran the i tre showroom on Pimlico Road, Belgravia, London which lead to many interesting and exciting commissions. In 2006 he opened Sladers Yard in West Bay Dorset, now a highly respected art gallery, showroom and award-winning licensed café run by his wife, Anna Powell.
To discuss commissioning a piece of furniture from Petter Southall, please email him at email@example.com or his showroom at firstname.lastname@example.org. More of his work can be seen on his new website here or on www.itre.co.uk