Furniture to look up to

IT'S not every day that specialist cabinet furniture maker R E H Kennedy Ltd has to think about where in its Ipswich factory to manufacture a particular item, but that was a key decision when embarking on the production of a magnificent four-metre tall, four-metre wide bookcase late last year.

IT'S not every day that specialist cabinet furniture maker R E H Kennedy Ltd has to think about where in its Ipswich factory to manufacture a particular item, but that was a key decision when embarking on the production of a magnificent four-metre tall, four-metre wide bookcase late last year.

It was also the first time the company has needed to erect scaffolding to create a piece of furniture.

The brief from the client, a wealthy businessman, was for a practical bookcase that looked “absolutely stunning” for the office at his country estate in Gloucestershire.

“The stature of the room allowed us to be more extravagant than normal,” said Mike Ruffles, director at Kennedy, pictured, left, dwarfed by the bookcase together with fellow director Russell Langham who designed the piece, ahead of its delivery to the customer this week.

Retailing at around £60,000, the bookcase took five to six weeks to make and a further five weeks' man-time to French polish by hand.

“The finishing is often under-rated but it's as important as the structure,” explained Mike.

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Then there was the glazing, silk-lining the drawers and the many other finishing touches that were all carried out on-site at the White House Road premises in Ipswich.

“It was a very labour intensive job - the bookcase has 20 different parts - and we needed to choose the right place in the factory to ensure we had the height we needed,” added Mike.

The two directors took ownership of Kennedy, which employs 32 skilled workers, in a management buy-out two years ago having both worked at the company for several years. As a supplier to Harrods, the Ipswich manufac-turer has an enviable reputation in the high-end traditional cabinet furniture industry with a client base of retailers and interior designers worldwide.

It has a range of more than 1000 standard models as well as making bespoke items on request - though not nor-mally as sizeable as the bookcase.