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English Barn with a Racing Spirit

The stone barn, built within the grounds of a country home in the Cotswolds, UK, serves as an executive suite and a place to house a classic car collection. The designer at Splinter Works was commissioned to plan the layout and design custom-made furniture to fulfil the many functions required of the space.

The owner of the space is a classic car and aviation enthusiast, so Splinter had an abundance of good aesthetic references and a strong direction for the style they wanted to create for him.

“We began by delineating the large upper space into functional areas: his main working area, meeting area, and relaxing space. On the ground floor we situated his car collection, and games area,” according to the designers.

They continued: “The main linchpin of the layout of the interior was positioning the desk, as we wanted to incorporate the best vantage point of the long views down the valley through the full height glass wall. We were also mindful that the desk needed to command the space and would have a good line of sight of the entrance. The Wing desk with its aeronautical design influences was itself split into two zones with one desktop sited at an angle for computer work, and another dedicated to working with his assistant.”

In the central area, Splinter designed a generous conference table. Taking the form of a modified diamond shape, it allows all the participants of a meeting to see and hear one another, regardless of where they are seated. With its sculpted metal base, glass, and light burr olive ash wood veneer, it brightens and highlights the centre of the room. Between the meeting area and the neighbouring lounge area, the designers commissioned a painting by Tim Layzell, depicting a graphic, retrospective, motor-racing scene. The painting not only references the automotive design influences, but also conceals a large television screen, which can slide from either side, serving as a conference screen during meetings, or a television in the lounge area. As it opens, it blocks out the small windows on either side, shutting out unwanted daylight from behind the screen.

At the end of the barn is a lounging area, which looks down onto the esteemed car collection through the glass floor. This area has a more intimate atmosphere with a sofa, bookcase, credenza, and narrower windows.

“No architectural features delineate the zones, instead we used functional counterpoints, like a dramatic open fire between the lounge and meeting area, and two cabinets, to break up the space,” according to Splinter.

They also recreated the house’s branding on the internal glass door. Colour-matching concrete to the Cotswold stone walls, they cast the client’s house logo into a circular handle which sits in a glass door as a discreet underpinning of the building’s provenance.

The furniture on the perimeter of the room uses darker walnut woods and bold colours, which fade into the centre of the room to softer, burr olive ash wood, and reflective metal surfaces.

A staircase leads down through a double height atrium into the central vestibule, with the car collection to one side, and games area to the other. Dividing the zones is a bar made in concrete, also colour-matched to the stone wall.

“To create an impactful vestibule, we mounted a prized set of Rubens Barrichello overalls in a customised glass casing and suspended in the pitched roof a larger scaled Nest light. This illuminates the vaulted atrium, and draws the eye up to the stairs, which lead up to the office.”

Splinter Works’ mission is to create furniture that is engaging and in-spiring. All the pieces are handmade in Britain. Splinter Works was formed in 2009 and is a collaboration between Miles Hartwell and Matt Withington. The design studio is based in the UK, thirty minutes south of London.


Photos: Stephane Rocher