British luxury manufacturer Linley has been producing the very finest furniture since 1985, when the company was founded by David Armstrong-Jones, the 2nd Earl of Snowdon, known professionally as David Linley. Encouraged by his parents to pursue his passion for creativity from a young age, Linley channelled his talent for making things into designing and building bespoke pieces of furniture for private buyers, before launching his eponymous brand with a shop on the New King’s Road in London.
Over the past 33 years, the company has grown to incorporate a large online shop, three brick and mortar stores in the UK, and a number of stockists abroad. Today, Linley produces everything from fitted kitchens for residential homes to bespoke cabinetry and furniture for yacht interiors. It has become one of the most well-respected furniture brands internationally, no doubt partly due to the attention to detail bestowed on each and every piece by the most talented artisans in the business.
A signature of Linley’s work is its use of marquetry, the labour-intensive technique that creates painterly scenes in wood. The process involves assembling paper-thin, meticulously cut pieces of fine quality wood inlays, following a pre-planned design, to create a patterned effect similar to that of a mosaic. Linley is widely considered to be the modern master of the technique, using it predominantly on furniture such as writing desks and screens.
Indeed, the beautiful Cassiopeia Screen is the perfect example of Linley’s talent for marquetry, and it is perhaps unsurprising that it is one of the most requested pieces for superyachts. The room-dividing screen depicts a reclining nude modelled on British artist Jonathan Yeo’s early work, Scarlett (Cassiopeia Study) on one side, while on the reverse, which is clad in claret Connolly Vaumol leather, there is a coat hook and hanger, a glass mirror, a walnut accessory tray and shelves made from polished aluminium rails.
Another of Linley’s specialisms is incorporating ingenious hidden compartments and drawers into its pieces. Combining both a feat of engineering and fine wood workmanship, these secret spaces in bureaux and desks are both practical hiding places and fun additions to the furniture manufacturer’s creations, not to mention a rarity in design today.
The Odyssey Desk is one such piece, with a secret button – accessible only to the person sitting at the desk – opening a hidden compartment in its curved pedestal. Intended to stand proudly in the centre of the room, rather than be pushed up against a wall, the Odyssey’s design was inspired by the smooth curves of a camera lens, a fitting touch considering Linley’s father was the world-famous photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, aka Lord Snowdon. Made from hand-dyed blue eucalyptus and grey sycamore stringing, it features a smart leather writing top and bronze and black leather handles, and commands respect for anyone seated at it.
The World Map Table is another piece that demonstrates Linley’s great attention to craftsmanship. Made from 40 individually selected veneers from some 130 countries worldwide, including ash burr, quilted maple, lacewood, fumed eucalyptus and ziracote, this circular table features a compass at its centre as well as lines of longitude and latitude and a map of the world created from the contrasting wood shades. The main body of the desk is made from glossy sycamore while the supporting columns feature chic nickel stringing, creating a neoclassical piece that calls to mind the glamorous golden age of ocean travel – surely a fitting tribute suited to the master office of a superyacht.