Article by Jody Beck. Images courtesy of Timothy Oulton.
It has been just over a year since Luxe Home Interiors celebrated the grand opening of the Timothy Oulton Gallery in Victoria. The showroom delivers an exceptional sensory experience: textures, fabrics, colours and patterns intermingle with objects in juxtaposition. Salvaged materials become utilitarian works of art. And, beyond the obvious and expected quality of each hand-crafted piece, interesting stories subconsciously emerge from within each daring collection. But what puts the Timothy Oulton brand in a class of it its own are the ideas and inspirations that inspire the work; these collections are Oulton’s life, translated into furniture. They represent his past and playfully hint at his future, all the while paying homage to his British heritage. We connected with Timothy Oulton, to learn a little more about him, and why he chose Victoria as a destination to land his international furniture brand.
Modern Home Victoria: If someone were to meet you for the first time, how do you think they would describe you?
Timothy Oulton: Probably what you see is what you get. I’m a very casual, relaxed person but I’m also a straight-talker, I say what I’m thinking.
MHV: Timothy Oulton is expanding its international presence and the brand seems to resonate well in Victoria. Was it the (obvious) British connection that made our city an appealing choice for opening a Timothy Oulton gallery or were there other major factors involved?
TO: We want to establish ourselves in the world’s best cities. And when building our plan for Canada, Victoria’s vibrancy, heritage, architecture and lively creative scene seemed a perfect home for us.
MHV: What qualities do you look for when selecting a retail partner like Luxe to showcase your brand?
TO: They have to share our values and feel that passion; a like-mindedness for hand craftsmanship and authentic materials. We felt that connection with Luxe, they get what we’re about.
MHV: Timothy Oulton furniture collections have a visual aesthetic that seem to connect to each other, yet equally embrace a unique style. Could you see the brand diverting at all into a completely different direction or is it important that every collection retains that British/military/antique feel with a historic reference?
TO: I’m a very creative person so I’m always thinking of the next thing. There are definitely some ideas we have that are pretty out there, but then being daring is part of who we are as a brand. Really it’s about keeping the authenticity, every piece has its own unique story and that’s not something I’d ever want to change.
MHV: It becomes extremely busy running a successful business, especially one the scale of your own. How much time does Timothy Oulton, the man, carve out to find inspiration on a daily level? Do you have any rituals that help you embrace your own creativity?
TO: I’m really fortunate that my lifelong passion – or obsession – has matured into the life I lead today and I’m very grateful for that. I suppose I look at things in a certain way, so I can get really excited over a threadbare old chair or get inspired by a friend’s bag, it’s an instinctive thing.
MHV: Reclaimed materials have appeared in so much of your work. Is it the salvaged finds that influence the design process or do you intentionally seek out materials to integrate into existing creations?
TO: It can be both. We’re always searching out the best and most authentic materials and I think reclaimed materials are very special. Of course it has character and stories from a past life which make it so interesting and unique, but it’s also incredibly enduring. The Tracks cabinetry in our new Adventurer range is hand-made from reclaimed railway beams, so the design really stemmed from the wood and wanting to bring that piece of history into the home.
MHV: Your furniture could be described as art, yet the craftsmanship command its use. How do you envision clients utilizing your furniture?
TO: Every piece we make is useful, it’s made to be lived on. Yes it looks great but you can also throw it around a bit, put your feet up on it. You could have the biggest, craziest house party and it would still look great, because the point is it actually looks better the more worn-in it gets because of the materials we use and the hand-finished detailing.
MHV: Are there any pieces, signature or otherwise, that are near and dear to your heart? If so, why?
TO: The drums are very cool, we’ve replicated actual 18th century military drums from the British army and repurposed them into bookcases and side tables. Also the trunks, I’ve got a thing for vintage luggage. Our Globetrekker trunk comes in this super sexy Orbit black leather finish.
MHV: What can we expect to see from Timothy Oulton moving forward? Are there any new signature pieces to be revealed in the near future?
TO: We’re constantly evolving and coming up with new ideas so there’s always something on the horizon. We’ve brought out four new collections this year which show a bit of a different side to us, from lighter, more summery pieces to our take on the Jazz era. Life’s an adventure and that’s what our pieces are about, they engage with your life and enrich those experiences.