Figura, the Victorians and Good Design

Figura, the Victorians and Good Design


Strolled under this wonderful 1860's railway bridge on a relaxing weekend walk near Albury in the Surrey Hills a few weeks ago. The design stood out because of the simplicity of the intriguing twisting curve alongside its longevity and performance.  The result is a beautiful arch, sitting comfortably within its setting, that has stood the test of time.

It may seem strange to seek comparisons between rural railways bridges and luxury hand-crafted furniture, but whilst standing beneath the bridge, I was struck by the commonality between the successful design principles employed by the Victorians and those deeply rooted in Figura.

1. Problem solving is part of good design

This bridge is a skew arch.  It uses a method of construction developed to enable an arch bridge to span an obstacle, such as a canal or road at some angle other than a right angle.  The design and considered layout of the brickwork stretching between the abutments gives the bridge strength and structural integrity. It is also visually appealing.  

This is the first similarity with Figura.  We take time to consider our clients' needs, think practically about how a living space will be used and who by, whilst understanding the aspirations for a project.  We then set about finding ways of helping achieve the end result clients are looking for. Experience and designing by hand helps with the thought process and problem solving nature of spacial planning.   

Figura - Hand Drawn

2. Skilled Craftsmanship & Longevity

In the case of this masonry skew arch, the construction will have required precise stone cutting, as the cuts do not form right angels. A template will have been designed and created by a team of skilled craftspeople and then built using traditional techniques.  As testament to this craftsmanship, the bridge is still in use today, 150 years on, carrying passengers from Reading to Gatwick.

All Figura kitchens are built and installed by highly skilled craftspeople, including cabinet makers, lighting designers, engineers and architects.  We have the freedom to instruct the very best craftspeople for each project, sourcing and managing the perfect team of experts to ensure that every detail of each project is outstanding.

Figura Kitchen: Curves are used on this central island with stunning effect

3. Curves

Today's designs are no longer confined to restrictions by straight lines, sharp angles and boxy shapes.  The Victorians incorporated curves into their architecture to overcome obstacles and provide strength to their structures.  

Although for very different reasons, Figura often introduces curves in to our furniture and floor design to achieve a comfortable flow around a room. Curves can be used very effectively to create a dramatic focus, fusing architectural and design elements or in the detailing of the furniture.  As with all of our designs, we start with the functionality of the kitchen and look to add features such as curves as needed.

4. Simple and Elegant

This bridge was incredibly complex to design and to construct yet it appears simple and unassuming whilst undertaking it's important role day in day out, without complaint for over for 150 years. Surprising where you find comparisons and inspiration for timeless, functional and elegant design......but those elements are the cornerstones of Figura.

Why not go for walk and take a look at the craftsmanship if you are in the Albury area.  The William IV pub at Little London is also recommended for a great pint and relaxing lunch... think of muddy wellies and wet labradors!

At the centre of all good design is the notion that it can stand the test of time and that is certainly the case with this railway bridge and with all of our projects in clients' homes. May the trains using this bridge continue carrying passengers to their destinations for as long as people keep living, cooking and entertaining in Figura kitchens.