TRIPPING THE LIGHT FANTASTIC: GARETH DEVONALD SMITH



 

 

Six months ago, A-Gent of Style was invited by Mary Fox Linton to join her at the Homes & Gardens Designer Awards 2013 hosted at the British Museum where the eminent Interior Decorator deservedly received the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to her by none other than Nicky Haslam. As you would imagine, it was a wonderful evening especially as she introduced me to Gareth Devonald Smith.




I was familiar with Gareth’s fantastical and whimsical work through a few lighting and furniture commissions that he had made for instance for the Murano restaurant, Veere Grenney Associates where I used to work and also for Porta Romana.

Ham Yard Hotel, Firmdale Hotels, London

Ham Yard Hotel, Firmdale Hotels, London

 

Murano, London

Murano, London



Veere Grenney Associates - Wyoming project

Veere Grenney Associates

 



Veere Grenney's apartment

Wall sconces for Veere Grenney’s apartment

 


Fast forward to a fortnight ago and the delightful Gareth had accepted to be A-Gent of Style’s next ‘victim’ and invited to me to his studio. Nothing had prepared me of course for the spectacle that would unfold before my eyes. Situated in a Victorian industrial building’s conversion at the back of a gated neighbourhood, Gareth ushered me down the long corridor of his ground floor studio that opens up on a vast, bright and all-white space replete with various pieces of his, that were either standing, sitting or hanging, each of them as striking and unique as the other. Needless to say, I was instantly gasping at the sheer beauty of his otherwordly and intricate constructions.








 

A staircase leads upstairs to Gareth’s two-floor ‘living’ zone where some of his work is naturally featuring amongst an elegant and interesting juxtaposition of mid-century decorative pieces. Like many other impulsive creators, having both his working and living spaces seperated by only one flight of stairs allow Gareth to channel his artistic and creative flow solely on his craft whenever it may strike.




Gareth’s work is more than just decorative: whether you want to call for instance his light suspensions ‘sculptural lights’ or ‘light structures’, the word ‘chandelier’ is somehow not quite befitting and almost reductive as chandeliers can too often conjure up classic images of a Louis XV Rococo glitzy pendant or a Murano glass light fitting. And Gareth’s pieces are much more than that. Their post-modernist look – you certainly couldn’t call his work ‘traditional’ – is already timeless and difficult to classify. I asked Gareth if he was influenced by other artists but he explained he doesn’t consciously associate his work with any other artists or knowingly feel influenced by external visual factors. “I work in a bit of a vacuum” he said. “People say my work has an odd quality to it, and I think it’s because I work from inside myself, rather than looking outside”.













It is therefore not surprising that his creations singularly stand-out and are notable for their distinctive and intelligent designs, high-quality materials and exquisite finishes. His private commissions, all tailored to his clients’ requirements, are sought by distinguished interior decorators and discerning collectors and can be found in some of the world’s most beautiful residences, hotels (there is a project with Kit Kemp of Firmdale Hotels in the pipeline), restaurants ( Murano) and yachts. His work is often featured in leading publications like House & Garden, Architectural Digest or The Independent.







Gareth’s commissions can understandably take weeks to several months from the inceptive brief and drawings to conception and installation. He explained he generally works on the preliminary stages of the construction such as welding and soldering in his studio but would outsource bigger elements. He painstakingly but passionately creates his commissions from different cut pieces of materials that he would then organically and invisibly join and weld. He tends to work with hard materials such as steel, copper (reclaimed), brass, marble, perspex, bronze, silver, gold or plaster but also crystals, gems or stones, which can be in different finishes: high gloss, polished, brushed, patinated, etched, powder coated or rough. His palette of colours seems to be neutral but bold accents of colour, like blue or red, are not unusual.










What I also found most fascinating about Gareth is his versatility and obvious high-skilled artistry as a multi-faceted designer: he first studied as a textile designer, became an interior designer and worked for Mary Fox Linton in the 1980s (hence the connection), then began working as an artist and designer, gravitating towards metalwork (he learnt silver soldering whilst sharing a workshop with jewellery designers) and eventually producing the sculptural lights and furniture which we see today. He is also a painter…









Be it a floral and feminine design or a geometric and architectural one – the latter being more his current inclination – his objets are undeniably exciting and intriguing: contrasting and alternating shapes, distinct tangle, symmetry and asymmetry, kinetics, energy, tension, balance  always arranged in an elegant and often playful manner contribute to Gareth unique aesthetics.

 











Through his art, Gareth proves that, whilst good architecture and interiors are essential to creating incredible design, the impact and effectiveness of his pieces are instrumental and almost essential to enhance a décor in a very unique way.

 It is with great anticipation that A-Gent of Style awaits to see Gareth’s new collection for Porta Romana that will be launched under his name during Focus this September and also his own first collection in the UK.




One comment


  • Gareth’s works are so creative, whimsical, beautiful and genius. A real pleasure viewing all aspects of his works. Thank You

    June 6, 2016

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