In conversation with: Cox London

Founded by Nicola and Christopher Cox in 2006, Cox London create remarkable furniture, lighting and mirrors. We discuss their style, involvement with Collect and the importance of nurturing traditional skills

When did you start the business and why? Nicola and I met studying fine art sculpture in London (Wimbledon School of Art). By the time we left in 1997 we were already pooling our skills to help create each other’s work.

Nicky moulded and cast her work in various materials including bronze and Jesmonite and I welded and fabricated metalwork sculpture. Creative workshops allowed us to earn, learn whilst purchasing equipment and materials for our own private practices.

Over a period of five to six years my work in a London antique-metalwork restoration workshop and Nicky’s work in a glass casting studio and at two bronze foundries (one in London and another in NZ) gave us the experience and confidence we needed to set up our own independent studio and workshops.

We were driven on so many different levels to create, as sculptors, as practitioners of traditional crafts and as lovers of the decorative arts. We wanted to make a unique brand of our own. A skilled and versatile, modern-day arts and crafts atelier, creating unique pieces with a reverence to the past that would stand the test of time. We never observed what was fashionable but have always loved genre defining art and design. All of the Cox family (three generations) were antique dealers and artists and at some point we realised that if we could craft unique artisanal design to the highest quality, we might be creating the antiques of the future. That possibility has been a clear driver for over 20 years now.

Inside the Cox London showroom

Can you describe the Cox London style and ethos? We often talk about the nature within. From the natural world that inspires us, to the nature of the maker and the way mankind is compelled to create something from nothing. The nature of materials we use, casting molten bronze, hammering hot iron and honing natural stone, glass and timber and the nature of the spaces we and our clients seek to define and elevate.

The Cox London ethos is to be the best craftspeople we can be and, on that journey, continue to practice heritage skills and processes, keeping traditional skills alive for generations to come.

The dramatic 35ft Olive Tree chandelier

My readers are interior designers. What about Cox London should appeal to them? Tailor made, predominantly to the trade, means our clients get exactly what they need, and customisation means every piece is unique to their project.

Our pieces are never static, they bring life and movement to the homes and spaces they inhabit. The hand of our makers is evident in everything we produce, the soul and energy of the handmade, with all its atmospheric imperfections on display.

Everything is hand made in our London workshops with over 30 in house crafts people, working across many disciplines (foundry, forge and finishing) creating everything we design. This means clients can see their work being made here in the capital and sign off on form and finish if they wish to.

We’ve made bijoux wall lights for powder rooms and chandeliers, monumental in scale, for staircases and halls. We recently created a 35 ft long Olive Tree chandelier for a British chapel barn.

Octagonal coffee table from Cox London
Octagonal coffee table from Cox London

You were recently recognised in HRH The Princess Royal’s training awards. What was this for and what does this mean for the company? We’re so proud of this accomplishment and so many of our team were involved in making this happen. We have been presented with a PRTA for our in-house training program. The training focused specifically on our patination team and the efficient and effective teaching of a broad spectrum of finishing we practice. Teaching, sharing and nurturing traditional skills is high on the Cox agenda. We’ve long recognised that training is vital to maintaining a skilled team, exceptional quality work and a successful business. We applied for a PRTA as way of formalising our intentions.

As our team of makers continues to grow, we hope that winning the award sends a positive message to future employees and our existing team. Ultimately, we want Cox to be a great place to work as well as a well-regarded company to have worked for.

The PRTA has inspired us to carefully develop training schemes for all our departments.

You are creating the lounge at Somerset House for this year’s Collect – what can we expect to see? Cox London have built a reputation for creating elemental and remarkable pieces of lighting, furniture, and artworks. Everything we design is handmade in our own studio, workshops and bronze foundry in London, making Collect the perfect platform, and the lounge at Somerset house the ultimate showcase, for our unique brand of interior landscaping.

At Cox London, we are foremost artists and makers and so have a true affinity with Collect. From the handmade, soul-nourishing work it showcases, to the extraordinary artisans it celebrates.

For around eight months we’ve been working on new pieces for Collect Art Fair at Somerset House, a top favourite of ours. We are engaged to design the whole room and chose to make a completely new set of pieces for the occasion.

We have created a nature inspired, woodland glade of pieces. Our new Queen of the Night chandelier will twist and bloom the length of the room. Burr wood tree trunks, realised as two grand consoles, will take root on the ground. Folly branch-style furniture, sofas and armchairs, wrought in bronzed iron and traditionally upholstered (sculpture meets, traditional, decorative arts) will provide high comfort lounge seating. Two extraordinary cast bronze Wisteria mirrors will creep up the walls and a Lilypad console table.

Rush Matters are kindly creating two beautiful bespoke rugs for us and Rupert Bevan is collaborating with us on an ambitiously, enormous panel mirror. Atelier Ellis have created a wonderfully unexpected and unique colour for the walls and TM Lighting will bathe our space in their unrivalled brand of architectural lighting.

If you enjoyed this feature, you might also like my interview with lighting designer Christopher Duffy of Duffy London

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