History of a brand: Linley

For more than 30 years, this British cabinetry brand has been making the classics of tomorrow

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Linley

With founder David Linley's royal background, it's easy to see how his eponymous brand is known for creating furnishings fit for kings. The son of Princess Margaret and photographer Lord Snowdon, Linley’s early passion for arts and crafts was heartily encouraged both at home at Kensington Palace and in his father’s studio. In fact, his grandmother, the Queen Mother, was known to proudly pass one of his early creations from school, a handmade wooden cigar humidor, around at parties.

He studied Carpentry and Design at Parnham House under John Makepeace, one of Britain’s finest furniture designers, and set up his own carpentry workshop above a chip shop in Dorking after graduating in 1982. Three years later, he upgraded to the King’s Road in London, launching his own brand and shop, David Linley & Co, and in 1993, the rapidly growing company moved into its current showroom on Pimlico Road.

David Linley at his craft
David Linley at his craft

From the beginning, Linley’s designs have been known for their truly fine craftsmanship, with painstakingly detailed marquetry in a mix of exquisite woods, such as Macassar ebony, anigre, walnut and satinwood. In addition to the intricate inlay patterns, the brand’s desks, tables, screens and panels feature playful touches, such as cleverly hidden drawers and compartments.

Linley's 'Odyssey' desk in blue, the piece has three concealed compartments
Linley's 'Odyssey' desk in blue, the piece has three concealed compartments

The same year as his company’s launch, Linley presented his first furniture collection at Christie’s. The ‘Venetian’ range, inspired by the architecture of its namesake city, sold out on the day of its unveiling. At the event, Sir Roy Strong, the then director of the V&A museum, said, ‘David Linley's furniture will become antiques of the future’. His words were prophetic, and the commissions poured in. One, from the Metropolitan Museum in New York, was for a 20-metre-long conference table with neoclassical column legs.

‘David Linley's furniture will become antiques of the future’

With some customers ordering almost an entire home’s worth of Linley designs, it seemed only natural to launch Linley Interior Design. Some projects, such as the 2013 Art Deco-inspired ‘Map Room’ at Claridge’s in London, have involved creating interiors that evoke a certain time period. Others, such as the 2016 design for a resident’s lounge in the Battersea Power Station development, and a private home in Oslo, have moved the brand into a more contemporary design period.

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Linley's 'Cocktail Box'

With yacht interiors, car designs and countless kitchen projects under its belt, and a creative team comprising over 30 members, Linley’s purchase of renowned architectural interiors company Keech Green indicates that the company will continue to expand its reach into the interiors world. As Linley has deftly proved over the past three decades, no matter how much further the brand grows or expands, its core commitment to extraordinary craftsmanship is what will maintain its rightful place in the British design pantheon for years to come. davidlinley.com

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration October 2018

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