If you follow me on any of my social media channels, you might have seen that last week I went on a top secret interior design press trip with furniture specialist DFS down in Derbyshire. Myself and five other interiors bloggers were invited to stay the evening at the Priest House Hotel, before venturing off the next day to meet with the DFS team. Our reason for being there? The launch of the pretty special, limited edition Britannia range. But before I get to that, I’ll start with our first evening in the hotel.
And what a beautiful hotel it was.
Tuesday evening was so warm and sunny, I spent a good chunk of the evening just soaking up some rays before being joined by the DFS team, Antonia of Tidy Away Today, Jen from Love Chic Living, Jess from Only Girl in the House, Jaclyn of Bumpkin Betty and finally Anneli from Anneli Bush. I was staying in one of the side cottages, so after getting showered and changed we all made our way to the bar before feasting on beautiful food in a private dining room. The meal was delicious and I made my way through coarse pate, herb crusted lamb and finally red velvet cake with ice cream. Let’s just say I slept well that night.
The next morning after a breakfast of smoked salmon and eggs (sorry, I like to mention food a lot), we were driven to the DFS factory to see how the company works on a day-to-day basis. Now, if I’m completely honest, before this trip I had very little knowledge of DFS as a company. With such quick lead times and purse-friendly prices, I just assumed everything was imported from the Far East, where production was much cheaper. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
DSF is British company, employing a huge amount of craftsmen and women in this country for over 45 years – 3,400+ people to be exact. With a three large factories in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, the brand prides itself on playing a key role in keeping UK manufacturing alive. And because remaining British is incredibly important to them, their latest venture seemed fitting to say the least.
Today sees the launch of The Britannia Range, which is a sofa collection that has been specially created for Team GB athletes competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. As the official homeware partner for the British Olympians, the range – which includes a four, three and two-seater sofa, an armchair, an accent chair and a large footstool – will help the athletes to relax, rest and recover in comfort whilst at the games. And there’s actually a pretty obvious synergy between DFS and Team GB – what more could an athlete want after a hard day winning gold at the Olympics? To put his or her feet up on an incredibly comfy sofa.
After visiting the factory to see how the Britannia range was made, we were taken to the design studios to learn a little more about the inspiration behind the designs. Meeting with DFS’s design director Philip Watkins, it was so interesting to hear how they had initially drawn inspiration from the iconic Chesterfield, and gave it a modern update without compromising on its signature aesthetics.
Featuring a sweeping “camel” back, the limited edition design incorporates a premium viscose linen blend from British weavers, Art of the Loom, who develop and weave the fabric just north of the factory in Lancashire.
“In support of Britain’s finest athletes, we set out to create a modern classic that represents the very best of Britain’s proud history of furniture design and craftsmanship,” explained Watkins. “From our expert carpenters who hand cut and assemble each and every hard wood frame, to our experienced upholsters who painstakingly set each button by hand to create the distinctive diamond shape pleating effect, every step of the way, we’ve looked to fuse quality British materials with quality British craftsmanship.”
Notice the look of sheer concentration here?
After hearing from the design team, this is where the hard work set in and we were asked to don our plastic goggles, pick up a staple gun and set about upholstering our own armchair. OK, so we didn’t do it completely from the beginning but I did create an arm, and have a go at hammering the stud detailing in to the trims. Although I only did about ten before my weakling arm started to ache, the armchair actually comprises 233 gold studs, representing the exact number of gold medals Team GB has won in the Summer Olympics to date.
And here’s the final sofa, all finished and impeccably styled – can I move into this living room right now please? I absolutely love this design – I was a huge fan of the Chesterfield anyway, but to add another element of comfort with deeper seats and added length, it just elevates the iconic style to another level completely for me. And to know it’s made here in the UK, supporting the athletes that are travelling out to Rio makes it all that more special.
I had a brilliant time with the DFS team, and I was able to finally put a voice to the bloggers I read on a daily basis. It was also nice to be surrounded by people who didn’t judge me for taking a picture of my red velvet cake.
The Britannia Range is available to buy from today for a limited time only so if you’re in the market for a new addition to your living room then this range comes highly recommended. Coming in four colourways, my personal favourite was the grey tone, although the oatmeal was also beautiful.
Finally, thank you to the DFS team for giving me such a great insight into this British brand and the people behind it.