While summering in London in 1992, 19-year-old Francis Sultana paid a visit to David Gill’s furniture gallery in South Kensington. Sultana was familiar with Gill’s limited-edition contemporary furnishings and engaged the gallery owner in a conversation about the design world’s masters. Gill was sufficiently impressed with the young man’s knowledge of luminaries such as Emilio Terry that he offered him a job on the spot—marking the beginning of a design career that took new shape this year with the launch of Sultana’s first solo collection.
Over the last two decades, Sultana has created a range of bespoke furnishings for private clients and collaborated on collections with design heavyweights such as Zaha Hadid, Tom Dixon, and Mattia Bonetti. In 2009 he took over Gill’s London showroom space and opened his own gallery there. This May, he filled it with his collection of customizable furnishings, which he says were influenced by his early days with Gill. “[David Gill Galleries] was my first contact with quality furniture, and it had a lasting impression on my work,” Sultana says. “This collection was my way of starting back at the beginning and paying tribute to the great masters by adding my own modern and elegant touches.”
The 38-piece collection, Homage to the Art Deco, comprises handmade chairs, ottomans, tables, and lighting fixtures. Each piece in the line—priced from $3,140 to $36,250—incorporates the Art Deco style’s trademark ornate materials, such as patinated bronze, gilded glass, ebonized wood, hand-dyed shagreen, and couture fabrics. “I use all of my favorites—from bronze and gilding to scagliola, a traditional way of imitating marble—but I do it all in contemporary colors and fabrics,” Sultana says.
Highlights from the collection include the Venise dining table, a round tabletop finished in teal-and-cream scagliola atop a gilded bronze base with an African-inspired pattern, and the Celia daybed, which has slender patinated bronze legs and a metallic-upholstered body with dramatic curves. Each of the pieces is signed upon completion and can be customized in virtually any size, finish, or fabric—assuming they meet Sultana’s standards. “No matter how far I push the boundaries of my work, the one thing that will stay the same is the quality of materials,” he says. “Those will always be the best.”
Sultana’s personal favorite piece in the collection is the Anthony coffee table, which features a smooth glass top that hovers over a hollow bronze base finished in pearlescent blue paint. The table has a slightly more contemporary edge than the other pieces, a style Sultana plans to expand upon in a sophomore collection due to launch in April. “The next collection will no longer be embedded in Art Deco,” he says, “but will instead move toward something more modern and sexy.”
Francis Sultana, +44.20.7589.5946, www.francissultana.com