Nov 23
Bespoke winners 2023

‘Flowing and beautifully functional’ – the winning bespoke oak chest

A meticulously considered, scorched oak chest, Serenade, by John Makepeace OBE, has taken the top prize in the Bespoke category in the Wood Awards.

Inspired by the ancient hollowed-out tree trunks that were used to carry the possessions of those on the move, this chest of drawers accommodates the personal items of a less nomadic lifestyle.

Beautifully executed, the chest has been made from a single tree of English oak – lovingly nurtured by generations of foresters since its planting in 1740, up to its felling in 1980.

With precise detailing, the grain runs continuously around the form, matching at each junction and allowing the drawers and carcase to move in harmony with changes in humidity. Lined in scented Lebanon cedar, the scorched oak drawers have central runners to minimise friction in use.

Having started his workshop in 1961, John Makepeace OBE has more than 65 years’ experience as a creator in wood. Evolving from modest local commissions, he has gone on to become one of the UK’s most renowned designers and furniture makers.

This collector’s piece is represented by Sarah Myerscough Gallery, London.

Corinne Julius, the lead furniture and product design judge, said:

“This intelligently designed object shows a passion for material and a deep knowledge of how to use it. Sculptural, flowing and beautifully functional, it has a timeless appeal, able to complement both a historical and contemporary context.”

The Wood Awards furniture and product panel is led by design critic, curator and journalist Corinne Julius. The panel includes Oliver Stratford, editor of Disegno magazine; Sculptor in Wood, Eleanor Lakelin, Sebastian Cox RDI, and Yael Mer, founder of Raw Edges, a London-based design and research practice.

Among the furniture and product design pieces which won in other categories was The Exchange Table and Chairs, from Mentsen, together with The Exchange Erith who were awarded in the Production Category, and Rocaille Morphosis, from Joanne Grogan of City & Guilds of London Art School, who won the student prize.

At the 2023 Wood Awards this year’s best new timber building was also announced as New Temple Complex, designed by James Gorst Architects.

As a not-for-profit competition, the Wood Awards can only happen with collaborative industry sponsorship. A huge thank you for continued support from Carpenters CompanyAmerican Hardwood Export Council and Timber Development UK.