Furniture can be categorized as either free-standing or built-in. Free-standing furniture is the most common.
Take, for example, a bookcase sited within an alcove. However carefully sourced to fit, a free-standing bookcase is unlikely to fill exactly the space that it occupies, and this means that the use of space is not as efficient as it could be.
In this example, a fully stocked bookshelf also has the potential to be unstable. A built-in bookcase will fit the space exactly, with no awkward and inefficient gap around and behind it, and as it is attached to the wall structure, it is safer than the free-standing alternative.
Built-in furniture can create a very considered look within a space. It is unique, so each installation will need to be individually designed or, at the very least, standard-sized elements will need to be put together with unique trims to match the size of the space.
Th is is the approach often taken by the major suppliers of built-in furniture, but the whole piece can be a unique creation and it can be the designer that is responsible for creating the piece.
Some designers will have a thorough knowledge of cabinet construction methods and so retain creative control over every detail of the piece, whilst others will work with cabinet makers and delegate responsibility for the technicalities of construction, retaining overall control of the look of the piece. Bespoke pieces of furniture allow for real freedom of expression within the design.
There is no reason why free-standing pieces should not also be commissioned especially for a scheme, if budget permits. Although probably more costly than furniture sourced from stock, within residential projects, bespoke items will usually acquire the status of a family heirloom and their individuality can provide a compelling reason for a client to agree to their manufacture.
The designing and making of bespoke pieces are not to be undertaken lightly, but the furniture that results can be a very special answer to a need. As the car designer Ferdinand Porsche said, ‘In the beginning, I looked around and could not find the car that I dreamed of. So I decided to build it myself ’.
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