Making Magic at Silverlining

How an acorn planted in the 18th century becomes the heart of a 21st-century Silverlining table.

Furniture is no longer just an accessory, it is not limited by its functionality and it can be a piece of collectable, one you inherit, or buy for the value it brings to your home, with an added rich narrative dipped in history. Silverlining, is one such furniture-making company that is as different from the large-mass producers that we find a dime a dozen, combines time-honoured craftsmanship techniques with the latest technologies to create one-off pieces.

The team who worked on the piece of wood that has a history that goes back to many centuries, explains the process to us: The Land, Sea, and Sky table features English brown burr oak from 1773 names. It incorporated an 18th-century brown burr oak, which the Silverlining team sourced five years prior. The oak tree was planted in 1773 at Castle Howard in England, to celebrate the birth of George Howard, 6th Earl of Carlisle. Brought down during England’s Great Storm on the night of 15th October 1987, the 214-year-old tree remained where it fell for over 25 years and became colonised by parasitic fungi. The fungus stained the natural pale, honey-coloured wood of the fallen tree a darker brown, creating a desirable type of wood known as brown or tiger oak. The ancient oak also had numerous rounded outgrowths called burrs, which form when a tree undergoes stress. As the wood within a burr grows in a deformed manner, it is highly figured and therefore greatly prized for its beauty and rarity.

The oak is the centrepiece of the Land, Sea and Sky table – a bespoke commission for a nature-loving client, made in collaboration with superyacht designer Greg C Marshall. The table’s pedestal was made from a large, heavily burred section taken from the base of the great oak, mounted on top of a circular polished stainless-steel plinth. To best showcase the natural beauty of the brown burr oak, the Silverlining design team created a central bowl section to sit within the butt section, beneath a see-through, five-piece glass top.

Although the team was keen to use the tree in as natural a state as possible, at a diameter of about four feet, the entire butt was too heavy for lifting onto the clients’ yacht. This meant that the large butt section had to be cut into five wedges, with the final assembly of the table done in situ on the client’s yacht in New Zealand. In addition, 160 micro-LED lights were connected and inserted into the wedges with a two-foot-long drill to penetrate the rock-hard wood.

The embedded, red, green, blue, and white coloured micro-LED lights twinkle brightly from within the shadows of the contorted tree butt, symbolising the stars in the night sky. The oak butt and bowl – with their stunning burr texture and rich brown colours – represent nature; whilst the greenish-blue cast glass top symbolises the swirling waters of the sea.

Remarkably, whilst the table’s journey started in the 18th century, on the grounds of one of Britain’s finest stately homes, it ended aboard a yacht in New Zealand, as a 21st-century design piece.

Silverlining is led by its founder Mark Boddington, a scion of the famous brewing family who opted out of the beer business in favour of a life at the bench and drawing board. Boddington’s first workshop (started when he was 21) was on the Grosvenor Estate in Cheshire, home to the Duchess and the late Duke of Westminster, where he met the couple’s interior designer John Stefanidis which was his first lucky break.

The second lucky break came in 1993 onboard a plane from Miami to LA when Boddington encountered Kevin Costner’s architect. This relationship led to a stream of commissions from Hollywood from clients such as David Bowie, Madonna, and Tom Ford. In 35 years, the company has been built on orders from less than 80 clients, yet it’s a successful, fast-growing business, with strong client relationships and repeat orders.

From the company base in Wrexham, North Wales, Silverlining’s 62-strong team of designers, makers, project managers, and other specialists seek out the finest materials –from rare woods and exquisite leathers to precious metals – and draw on the best of old and new techniques to conjure them into extraordinary pieces. They call it ‘making magic’.

Images Courtesy Silverlining.