Ground-breaking and one-of-a-kind, Silverlining’s pieces belong only to a very exclusive pool of discerning clients. Yvonne Xu finds out from company founder and chairman Mark Boddington what bespoke design truly is.
Silverlining, a company that creates luxury furniture for super yachts, palaces, and private residences, has had only 30 clients in the last 29 years. The exclusivity points to a portfolio of projects that are bespoke and exquisitely detailed—projects of the best quality in execution. The company’s founder and chairman Mark Boddington says this way of working ensures they exceed every client’s vision and expectations and make the commissioning journey special.
Silverlining has a reputation for creating extraordinary furniture for yachts. Featured here: furniture by Mark Boddington, yacht design by Michael Leach. Photo courtesy of Palladium, Michael Leach Design Ltd
Boddington is the great great grandson of the famous founder of Boddingtons English Beer –Henry Boddington. In school, Boddington discovered that he had the natural talent for furniture making and followed his individual passion and trained with the eminent furniture designer John Makepeace. The budding designer had his first lucky break at 21 when he set up his first workshop on the Grosvenor Estate in Cheshire in 1985, home to the The Duke and Duchess of Westminster, who were about to extensively remodel their home. He was then introduced to their interior designer John Stefanidis and commissions flowed in from Eaton Hall and other English aristocratic families in Britain, USA and Venezuela. Boddington’s second lucky break was when he met Kevin Costner’s architect in 1993. Projects for David Bowie, Madonna and Tom Ford followed. Today Silverlining’s client list reads like the Who’s Who of the world.
Needless to say, there were some incredible projects created. “Recently we were asked to design a 14 metre by 2.5 metre wide table to be made as one structure,” Boddington shares. “In addition the table had to meet stringent fire safety regulations. This led us to turn to the aerospace industry to find a solution for creating a one piece organic design in non-combustible and super light composite materials. The shipping and installation were challenging as the table was so large it had to be lifted into the building before the roof went on. To do this we designed a special weather proof air conditioned shipping and storage container, which was then dismantled 12 months later after the building was finished, leaving the table in place. Over the years we have had some interesting requests including a secret drawer in a desk for a pistol and a dining table strong enough for belly dancers to perform on after dinner!”
Other past projects saw Silverlining hunt down some of the world’s most unique materials, including a 227-year-old reindeer hide salvaged from the Metta Catharina that sank off Plymouth in 1786, and a 418-year-old brown burr oak from the stately Holker Hall in Cumbria, England.
Creating bespoke projects means knowing a client’s need intimately. This is partly why Silverlining maintains such a small client list. “The process is really a journey of collaboration between client and designer or craftsman,” Boddington shares. “As bespoke furniture mirrors a client’s personality, the starting point is to get to know the client: what is their background, what do they collect, how do they spend time relaxing, do they have children, family history, what drives them, etc. It is also important to understand their vision for the project.”
‘We then spend time on inspirational research to stimulate thought and ideas – it is important to show what’s possible and to expand everyone’s minds before choosing a particular direction. Ideas are then presented to the client as hand illustrated sketches with a maquette sample showing the combination of materials such as wood, or a combination of wood and leather, stone, metal, gold leaf, etc. Once the final design, cost and timescale are agreed, the designer, craftsman and project manager then work as a team to oversee engineering, manufacture, finishing and finally naming and dating. They even personally wrap, pack, deliver and install the furniture in the home, office or yacht and finally provide training on how to care for the furniture. In reality it is a very close bond between designer, craftsman and client – one we hope that will last for many generations.”
Indeed, Silverlining has started working with the next generation of clients – children of their earliest clients. They are exploring what Boddington calls ‘21st century craftsmanship’. Much of the work is in reinvention and innovation. “It could be combining centuries old and modern day materials and techniques, such as combining tactile shagreen leather (found on 14th-century Samurai swords) with highly polished moulded carbon fibre composite found in the aerospace industry,” Boddington shares.
Now, Boddington is in Asia to look for just one or two clients to add to his exclusive list of clientele. Let the search begin!