Private commissions have always been at the heart of the business and in fact initially acted as David Linley’s inspiration behind starting the company. Due to its popularity, certain pieces that were commissioned by clients were commercially recreated and introduced as retail product ranges. This trend still continues today. Keen to learn more about the department, we spoke to Yasmin Khajavi , Head of Private Commissions. Trained at the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s school originally as a furniture designer, Yasmin has worked at LINLEY for 8 years and now manages bespoke clients. Tell us more about your background and how you got involved with working with private clients? During college, I majored in furniture. I was fascinated with how people interact with a designed piece of furniture. After a few years of working I found my biggest interest lied in the client facing side of the role, that’s when I started focusing more on sales. Today, although I still design concepts and get involved in the initial stages of design with clients, I leave the detailed design and technical drawings to our team of expert designers. How has the division grown since you arrived in 2008? Bespoke, or Private Commissions as better known at LINLEY, has always been a key part of the business. Over the last few years it has become a lot more structured, with various people in the team focusing on different types of clients including Private Yachts and Trade clients. We have a lot more projects compared to when I first joined the company. This has allowed us to dedicate an area of our retail flagship store to Private Commissions. On the bespoke floor we showcase one-off pieces as examples of new techniques and materials that can be used in projects, as well as a range of samples and materials that get updated regularly. It is a perfect place to meet clients to discuss briefs and sketch ideas together with our designers. This stunning Dining Table was commissioned by Oro Bianco (Interior designer), it has been crafted with rich marquetry and golden leaf detail. You can learn more about it here. Can you talk us through the process of how a piece of furniture/accessory is commissioned… We generally come across two main types of commission enquiries; commissions that are based on an existing piece of furniture/accessory and commissions that are fully bespoke and start from a blank canvas. In both cases, we meet the clients (when possible) with a dedicated designer from our team to discuss the initial brief and design work commences following the meeting. When possible and if it is relevant, we carry out site visits and start the design work which could take around 2-6 weeks depending on the complexity of the project and our schedule. Designs are then shared with the client for feedback and revisions are carried out until we have a design that the end client is fully satisfied with. A quotation at this point is provided and upon agreement on the price, the technical drawing stage begins. At this point, the dedicated designer completes very detailed drawings of how the piece is to be made. These drawings are used by the makers as blue prints to create the piece and also give clients another chance to go through the final details of their design before the making phase begins. And what challenges do you face in the lead up to delivery? Keeping the project running to the promised time frame takes a significant amount of planning and project management. We are talking about unique pieces that have not been made before and therefore there are a lot of complications and unexpected challenges that come our way as the production develops. To avoid disappointment, we need to be constantly a step ahead of the potential issues and think about solutions in advance. What is the most interesting piece of furniture a client has requested? There is a desk that has been featured a lot in our bespoke advertising and although it has extended into the retail range (known as the Riviera Collection) and we have made many variations of it, the original commission is still a great example of a very successful bespoke commission. Greatest examples of bespoke furniture in my opinion happen when the enthusiastic client has a key involvement in the design process. The designer in this case helps the clients transform their dream into an operational piece of furniture that is designed to perform a certain function and is also visually beautiful. This Rivieria inspired L-shaped desk was designed to suit how the client interacted with it including his need for storage. Featuring beautiful Ziricote with sap on the edge faces, the desk has integrated fans for the user’s stored electronics, adjustable shelves, a filing drawer and of course a few secrets – A LINLEY trademark. Tell us about a project you are currently working on? I have a large number of pieces being made for a client who again is very much involved in the designs and shares our enthusiasm for the commissioning process. The most interesting piece in this project is a watch cabinet which is designed specifically for his vast collection of luxury watches. As well as the functional requirements for winders and such, we have studied how different watches sit around the watch rolls and have made the rolls to a specific shapes to individually fit his watches. There are various pull out trays that are leather lined for the client to place his watches on to look at or wind or change straps using a watch tool box which is hidden in a drawer that houses various tools sourced from Bamford Watch Department. Again what I love most about this piece is how it is specifically designed for how this client interacts with his watches and uses the cabinet. It validates the whole process of having a bespoke piece made. Finally, what makes a LINLEY piece so special? For my clients it is the relationship with David and the brand which in a lot of cases goes back to the early days of the business. The relationship in most cases becomes more than a furniture purchase due to the time involved in commissioning a bespoke piece and the interaction during the design phase. At some point after everything looks good on paper, the client will need to take a leap and trust that we will deliver their dream product. We deliver on that trust and that’s what keeps clients coming back for more commissions. And then there is the quality and attention to detail and all those secret compartments and hidden fun elements that come with every single LINLEY piece, however large or small. LINLEY pieces tend to please and put a smile on people’s faces, this is a great quality to be proud of. You can learn more about some of the LINLEY Private Commissions here.