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A Round Table Discussion

Who doesn’t love a long weekend? Stepping out of the usual routine to savour new places and experiences is so invigorating – and it is definitely where inspiration often strikes us. It certainly did in Caithness.

At the very top of mainland Britain Caithness is a stunningly wild landscape of few trees, inland peatland and dramatic coastline, and it was the vast skies, vertiginous flagstone cliffs and rolling seas of the coast that drew us there. Our destination was the small fishing village of Berriedale, and in particular the abandoned cottages on the shore, lovingly restored as holiday accommodation by the Landmark Trust. Once the crowded homes of fishermen working in the herring industry they have been painstakingly renovated, maintaining an aesthetic connection with their heritage but modernised as warm and welcoming havens looking out across the shingle beach to the tumultuous sees beyond.

Access to the cottages is via a shoogly footbridge across Berriedale Water, with a handy wheelbarrow to carefully transport your possessions to the other side! The ever-changing weather guarantees that the views from the cottage are always different, but never less than beautiful. Excursions took us along the shingle shore, further afield to Dunrobin Castle to the south in Sutherland, and north to the remarkable Whaligoe Steps cut into the steep cliffside in the 1700s to give access to the natural harbour lying far below.

Needless to say the sketchpad was often called into action. We were particularly struck by an old, rough-hewn, three-legged table we found, and we also wanted to reflect the much-quarried flagstone of Caithness. After many rough drawings we decided that simplicity of line both reflected the landscape and also gave a timeless quality to what became the Berriedale Side Table. Its granite inset top combined with our Peat finish very much anchors this piece in Caithness, while also conjuring up a mid-century vibe that makes this table perfect for any interior.

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An Opportunity for Adventure

We often talk about the inspiration we find in Scotland’s rugged and majestic scenery. If you have watched our film of Rannoch Moor you will have been momentarily transported to a staggering wilderness of mountains and lochs and know exactly what we mean.

But it would be negligent to live in Edinburgh and overlook the beauty that is on our very doorstep! Immediately on the southern edge of the city are the Pentland Hills. Their rolling hill-tops with panoramic views of the city and beyond have inspired the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson (for whom, like ourselves, they were the “hills of home”), Walter Scott, Allan Ramsay and James Ballantyne.

The south-facing slopes have a very special place in our own hearts at Fisk and with the “bleating lambs and sheep, Of brawling torrents foaming deep” we hope to have captured their spirit in our Pentland Dining Chair. With such a clear mental picture from our many walks, sledging expeditions and picnics, the design was quite instinctive and the initial sketches came easily. Our aim was to find that sweet spot where comfort meets style, practicality meets individuality, and throughout the production of the prototype we finessed each element such as the breadth of the back rest, the angle of the legs, the depth of the seat, until we had achieved this.

As the wonderful A. A. Gill sagely put it, “Every meal is an opportunity for adventure”. With the understated glamour of our Pentland Dining Chair and its balance of rural charm and urban chic, we hope that we have produced the ideal seat from which to launch your own adventures as you come together with friends and family to share food, memories and fun.

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Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!

Tonight’s the night (if you are very lucky) that you will be celebrating both our national poet and dish at a Burns Supper!

The very first Burns Supper was held in 1801 and it’s a tradition that the Scots have upheld ever since. Burns Night has been exported around the world wherever an expat Scot has gained a foothold; with Robert Burns and the haggis themselves long-established, universally recognised Scottish icons.

Here at Fisk, like the Bard himself, much of our inspiration comes from the romanticism of the Scottish landscape and Scotland’s architectural and cultural environment. Here Callum, our co-founder, is celebrating Burns with the help of the “Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race”. Don’t be put off by its description as “gushing entrails”, we promise it’s delicious and of course a wee drop of the amber dew always helps! He is doing so from the comfort of our Pentland Dining Chair and supported by our Berriedale Side Table – both of which are inspired by the landscapes from which they take their names.

If you are excited about the prospect of a Burns Supper but not quite sure what is going on (we don’t blame you), we have reproduced the Address to the Haggis here, along with a handy translation. Enjoy!

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin’, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

Nice seeing your honest, chubby face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Belly, tripe, or links:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.

The groaning platter there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour sharpen,
And cut you up with practiced skill,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sight,
Warm-steaming, rich!

Then, spoon for spoon, they stretch and strive:
Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,
‘Til all their well-swollen bellies soon
Are tight as drums;
Then old Master, most likely to burst,
‘Thanks Be’ hums.

Is there one, that over his French ragout,
Or olio that would give pause to a sow,
Or fricassee that would make her spew
With perfect loathing,
Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On such a dinner?

Poor devil! See him over his trash,
As feeble as a withered rush,
His spindly leg a good whip-lash,
His fist a nit:
Through bloody flood or field to dash,
Oh how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his sturdy fist a blade,
He’ll make it whistle;
And legs and arms, and heads will cut,
Like tops of thistle.

You Pow’rs, that make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland wants no watery ware
That slops in bowls:
But, if You wish her grateful prayer,
Give her a Haggis!

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Happy New Year!

Last year was such an exciting year for us here at Fisk.

Establishing our London presence with a dedicated showroom in the heart of Chelsea’s design district has been a huge development for us. While our hearts and inspiration remain firmly rooted in Scotland, we have enjoyed being much closer to so many of our lovely customers, old and new.

Amy in particular has loved getting to know you through visits to your showrooms and by welcoming you to our Lots Road base. Being able to share the inspiration and tell the story behind our designs face-to-face is so much more evocative. And nothing beats being able to see our pieces in the flesh. Seeing our beautiful new brochure come off the press was another thrill and if by some stroke of misfortune you still haven’t seen it please do just get in touch with Amy for a copy – or, even better, have her talk you through it.

We were very proud to have our Howard Table selected by the fabulous Joy Moyler for the interior design event of the summer, the WOW!house at Chelsea Harbour. And what an honour it was to meet Joy herself. 

Witnessing the birth of our pieces is always a nervous but joyful moment and towards the end of the year we launched three brand new designs which we know you will love. Who wouldn’t like to sit back and survey the scene from our magnificent Cuillin Swivel Chair; or feast in stylish comfort in a luxuriously upholstered Pentland Dining Chair; while our Berriedale Side Table manages to combine Caithness’ wild coastline with a certain mid-century coolness.

As ever, our thanks go to our wonderful customers without whom we would not exist and our talented teams of artisans who help us bring our designs to life.

We are looking forward to an equally exciting 2024 with new designs already in the works and many an idea already on the drawing board. Watch this space!

In the meantime, best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2024 from the whole Fisk team.

Callum & Jackie

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Wow. Wow. Wow.

The much-anticipated WOW!house has opened its doors to great acclaim at Chelsea Harbour.

The WOW!house is a unique 500 sqm show house , with 18 rooms created by some of the world’s leading interior designers working alongside globally recognised design brands and suppliers. We are incredibly proud that, having been given carte blanche to decorate the WOW!house Dining Room, A-list New York interior designer Joy Moyler chose our Howard Side Table to feature in her fabulous room.

Joy explained

“the starting point for my Dining Room is just an environment that is beautiful, simply done, but the textiles and the finishes are all encompassing – to hold your engagement so you can enjoy your visitors’ company and linger into the wee hours of the morning.” She commented that she selected the Howard Side Table as the “perfect placement for a ruby red phone in my Tattler space.”

We had a blast at the launch and you too can be wowed from Monday 5th June until Thursday 6th July at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre.

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From Auld Reekie to the Big Smoke

We are very excited to be on the move at Fisk. We have travelled down the well-used high road that leads so many “Scotchmen” to England. From Edinburgh’s Auld Reekie to London’s Big Smoke.

Our hearts and inspiration very much remain in the wynds and closes of Scotland’s towns and cities as well as the magnificent scenery we are blessed to have on our doorstep. But we have been increasingly aware of the need to be amongst our wonderful customers, and most of you are based in the south. While many adventurous souls have travelled north to see our beautiful furniture it was less a pop in for a chat, and more a “walk 500 miles to fall down at our door”.

So here we are! Newly arrived in the heart of Chelsea’s design district at Worlds End Studios on Lots Road. Our small but perfectly formed showroom is headed up by the lovely Amy who is at the heart of everything we do at Fisk and who will give you a warm welcome, regale you with the backstories to our unique designs and answer all your questions – as well as make a mean cup of coffee. We set up Fisk after many years trying to source quality furniture with more personality, and we are delighted that everyone who lays eyes on our pieces falls just as much in love with their wild romanticism as we are. As interiors journalist Beverley Brown commented, “Photographs can convey many things but when it comes to Fisk’s furniture, seeing has to be accompanied by repeated touching to appreciate the remarkable fusion of form and function.”

Visits are by appointment so that we can give you our undivided attention, so please do get in touch. With chairs as comfortable as ours you can come and visit, but you may never leave!

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Made to Measure

We really enjoy working with interior designers to produce bespoke Fisk pieces specifically for a particular setting. Working alongside Ampersand Interiors on the new boutique hotel The Whittling House in Alnmouth we designed two bespoke Arrans and two tailor-made versions of our brand new Rum chairs.

The Whittling House, brainchild of award-winning restaurateur Richard Sim (of The Potted Lobster fame) and entrepreneur Tom Leslie, engaged Ampersand Interiors to bring some laid-back luxury to their new project on Northumbria’s beautiful coast.  Their brief was that they “wanted to create an atmosphere where visitors can feel comfortable and at home whether they’re in their flip flops after a day at the beach, or dressed up to celebrate a special occasion”. Ampersand have been so successful in achieving this that they have been shortlisted in The International Hotel & Property Awards 2021.

Our Arran chair was selected as the ideal piece for two specific spaces: the first a beautiful bedroom complete with indulgent en-suite and stunning 4-poster bed. Often described as more of a hug  than a chair the Arran was perfect for a dressing drink or a relaxing nightcap. Alongside our taupe sheepskin we upholstered the sides and back in a gorgeous copper fabric from Warwick which tied in seamlessly with the oranges and coppers in the room, designed to reflect the bracken-covered countryside. In addition the legs were subtly limed to match the fabulous four-poster.

In the public areas there was a need for a chair as a resting place between the entrance, the bar and the dining areas.  The Arran was the ideal piece with the scale to provide a focal point and the comfort to ensure this was a genuinely useful and usable stopping point and not just an “accessory”.  The contrast fabric was selected to work with the soft furnishings in these areas, on this occasion a lovely Osborne & Little fabric. In the dining room the space beside the striking double-sided fireplace was tight but crying out for fire-side seating. Our new Rum chair is the neatest design in our range and fitted like a glove. While usually fully upholstered in ivory sheepskin we produced these in taupe to continue the theme of the nearby Arran, along with a matching kilim contrast fabric. Whether for an after-dinner snort or an intimate, inter-course chat, the Rums provide a great place to perch!

Both Ampersand and The Whittling House were wonderful to work with and it is nice to think that our contribution to the splendid interiors may have played a small part in the project being shortlisted!

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From Arran with Love

It was while we were enjoying a long weekend on the Isle of Arran that we came up with a new chair design inspired by this beautiful island.

Our friends had generously offered us the use of their lovely cottage. As usual we cut things fine and made the ferry by a matter of seconds, arriving to the smell of burnt rubber and the sound of screeching brakes…and once across the water we realised we had left the keys back on the mainland, but that’s another story! Having safely arrived Arran worked its magic and we were able to totally switch off. Positioned in the Firth of Clyde and with its very own “Highland” and “Lowland” areas along with its forests, rivers, small lochs and beaches, Arran is often described as “Scotland in miniature” and from its high point of Goat Fell to Brodick Castle there is no shortage of natural, historical and cultural stimulus. Our particular favourite was the short, steep walk to Coire-Fhionn Lochan – a magically peaceful mountain lochan where Jackie, Paddy and I had the white pebble beach and wide expanse of clear blue skies entirely to ourselves.

We had been ruminating on a slightly less wild design than our Skye chair and the gentle undulations of the glens and coastline effortlessly insinuated themselves into the early sketches of our ‘Arran’ design. With its deeply scooped wings and softly bowed top rail it has a distinctive, highly individual outline. And with the island’s most populous resident being the ubiquitous sheep we only had one upholstery in mind – this time a short haired sheepskin that adds cosiness and luxury to what is already a hugely comfortable chair. Originally finished in a palette that reflects the soft natural tones of the island this popular piece has been bespoked in various sheepskin colours and alternative contrast fabrics to the sides and rear (a version destined for American customers was in pure white sheepskin with a red plaid contrast).

If you have visited Arran we hope you’ll think our chair does the island’s beauty justice – and if you haven’t yet been perhaps you will be inspired to book a wee trip! Whether you are curled up to watch a movie, read a book or take a nap, like the island itself, this chair is one that you’ll not want to leave.

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Top of the Pile

We were delighted to recently meet with Beverley Brown of The Herald in our showroom. She was such an informed and enthusiastic interviewer and her wonderful and generous article perfectly captures what we are all about.

“Historically, the visual arts has been well endowed with power couples – Ray and Charles Eames, Aino and Alvar Aalto, Hand and Florence Knoll to name but a few whose furniture designs continue to be icons of desire in the modern world. Worthy of joining the list is Edinburgh-based power couple Callum and Jackie Fisken, who soft-launched their fledgling company Fisk a year ago and are now gearing up to launch it later this month to the world at the Decorex international interiors trade show in London.

Photographs can convey many things but when it comes to Fisk’s inaugural collection of bespoke, made-to-order furniture and rugs, seeing has to be repeated by repeated touching to appreciate the remarkable fusion of form and function that reflects a new way of seeing Scotland’s architectural and cultural environment.

The husband and wife creative duo are best known as the driving force behind Ampersand, the interior design business they founded 25 years ago to tap into their individual skills, Callum as a furniture designer, Jackie an interior designer. As time went on Callum found he was increasingly spending more time running the business than designing. “What turned things round was me suddenly being inspired to make a side table, followed by a visit to Copenhagen where we were both struck by the idea of a chair upholstered in sheepskin…and suddenly pieces started to fall into place and Fisk was born”, says Callum, who named the company in homage to his Scandinavian roots.”

Continue to read here from page 24: The Herald: Luxury Edinburgh

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The Fisk Rannoch Chaise – wild splendour to relax in.

Great Britain is such a crowded island that it is easy to overlook the many areas of natural beauty that make it such an amazingly varied place to live. With thousands of miles of coastland, woodlands and forests and the peaks of Snowdonia, the Lake District and the Highlands you are never too far from magnificent scenery.

It is easy to forget just how rugged and isolated some of these locations can be. One place where you are under no such illusion, however, is Rannoch Moor. One of Europe’s last remaining true wildernesses, it is a breathtaking landscape of remote, wild splendour. Many times we have lapped up the views from some of the surrounding mountains such as Beinn Dorain, Buachaille Etive Mor and Schiehallion, but its sheer vast empty magnificence was first brought home to me over 30 years ago when I walked the West Highland Way as a schoolboy with a group of friends. Having never before ventured into the Highlands, they were simply awe-struck by Rannoch Moor. Seeing it through their eyes, at turns forbidding as the rain lashed down and other-worldly as the sun came out, really illustrated how stunning a location it is and how fortunate we are to have such spaces where time seems to stand still.

Capturing this rugged beauty was our aim with the Fisk Rannoch Chaise. Fully upholstered in short, curly, dappled sheepskin and with feature antler legs, the result is a unique combination of the wild and the stylish – a chaise that can be the dominant centrepiece to the coolest of apartments or the ideal element in a chalet-chic scheme. As GQ say, it will “add a frisson of highland sophistication to your pad”. As with all our seating we believe that it is also unchallenged in terms of comfort. Whether you are reclining with a page-turner or simply grabbing forty winks, the Rannoch’s gently undulating form cradles. Indeed, close your eyes and you could almost be lying out on the moor itself.