The great outdoors… we love it – and that’s arguably a bit odd for a furniture company whose products more typically live indoors.
If you browse around our site, you can’t help but notice that a number of our sofas and chairs are photographed outside. It’s not a recent affectation – we’ve been doing that for over 30 years. There’s a reason we do, but like most inspired and practical ideas, our passion for sticking our furniture in the landscape was borne out of enthusiasm.
It’s pretty simple really. In the early days of Balmain & Balmain, Sarah and Andrew got hugely excited about all the furniture they’d put together for their customers (some things never change – we still get pretty giddy). So excited in fact, they had to take a photo. Usually in a bit of a hurry as the delivery van had to go out.
So, Andrew would break out the Minolta and, before the van hit the road, a quick snap of the most exciting pieces would be taken before they were loaded up. Typically the shots featured a bit of Dorset in the background, or one of the dogs. Or occasionally a child. Or a log pile, or lavender beds, cows, an Old Rectory, Volvos, Land Rovers, boats… Basically anything that wasn’t the sitting room.
Why the fixation with the great outdoors? Well, for one thing, the light’s great for photgraphy, but more importantly our senses are highly tuned to the familiar. Placing pieces entirely out of context and in an unexpected environment helps you to see form and function without the distraction of a formal and more typical room setting. That’s a real advantage if you’re trying to hone in on a particular style in a world awash with fabrics, colour and shape.
Any military men and women will tell you the same thing. The best camouflage is the familiar. Your eyes are naturally drawn to things that stand out – the sheen of a gun barrel, or an unnatural flash of red in a verdant green backdrop. If you’re a soldier the last thing you want to do is stand out. Fortunately for us, camouflaging our furniture isn’t our objective – quite the reverse, in fact. And we like to think it’s outstanding in its field, especially when it stands out in a field.
PS. Don’t try this at home unless it’s a nice dry, sunny day – in which case, crack on and be at one with nature from the comfort of your sofa.