Calvary and Guards Club - Autumn Lecture

The Entry Hall

The Entry Hall

If we look back we are dying on our feet.
- John Makepeace

This past Thursday we were invited to attend a private lecture at the Calvary and Guards Club which is near Hyde Park Corner. Dress code was men in suit and tie, dress smart, absolutely no jeans and no trainers - failure to the observe the formal dress code would result in denied entry. 

The evening was outlined as follows:

6.15pm gather in the Waterloo Room

6.30pm Lecture in the Peninsular Room, followed by Q&A

7.30pm Drinks in the Waterloo Room

The evening was fabulous and I loved what I learned during those few hours. Lecturers were John Bly and John Makepeace.  

John Bly is the resident furniture expert on BBC Television’s Antiques Roadshow since it started in 1978, and has his own ITV programme Heirloom. The Bly family have been dealers in Tring, Hertfordshire since the beginning of the 19th century and John Bly worked for four years at Sotheby’s before joining the family firm. He lectures in Britain, Europe and North America and writes for a variety of specialist magazines. He has written and edited 14 books related to antiques.

John Makepeace is a renowned furniture designer and maker. Early professional recognition led to his work as a design consultant to the all India Handicraft Board, a founding member of the Crafts Council in the UK and a Trustee of the V&A, London. Early commissions from Templeton and Keble College, Oxford, and Liberty’s were followed by major museums, corporate and private collections around the world.  

In 1976 he bought Parnham House, Dorset to set up a college alongside, but separately from, his own furniture studios. Parnham rapidly gained an international reputation. Following the sale of Parnham in 2001 he purchased Farrs, a listed house in Beaminster, and here he and his wife, Jennie, now have their home, gardens, design studio, gallery and timber seasoning for current and future commissions. 

John Makepeace was awarded an OBE in 1988 for services to furniture design and in 2002 received the American Furniture Society’s Award of Distinction.


  • We are like trees - we grow from the inside out. We weather, show sign of our age 
  • The hidden beauty of trees - it's inside, it's revealed when we cut into the tree.
  • Disclosed and revealed beauty
  • There's nothing in life that isn't reflected in furniture
  • 1 - material, 2 - use/function, 3 - shape, 4 - decoration, 5 - manufacture
  • Age of timber...first, oak. Second, Walnut. Third, Mahogany. Fourth, Exotic timbers
  • 1700's staff would bribe the dinner guests because as they drank alcohol during the meal they would become indiscreet. To fix this they had the servants leave after the food was served and that's when self-serving furniture/pieces were created. 
  • How will your designs reflect your pattern of life? And the patterns of life of your time? 
  • Furniture fulfills four functions: sit, support the body at ease, tables (the floor raised off the ground) and cabinets/storage (added level of protection) 
  • Structure, Expression
  • Anything looking backwards has no future
  • Design is about constant innovation. Nothing remains the same. 
  • If we go back we are dying on our feet. 
  • New
  • New opportunities
  • Equals new inventions
  • In regards to clients: What they are trying to say instead of what they are saying
  • Repeating doesn't lead to innovation and invention
  • Trends are superficial
  • Find something personal

Wandering the building

Wandering the building