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.
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.”
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.
Every great chieftain needs a great family seat, and with 25th January soon upon us what better vantage point from which to enjoy the bacchanalian delights of a Burns supper than our Skye chair.
Skye epitomises so much of the romance of Scotland’s Highlands, from the majestic peaks of the Cuillins to the bonnie boat speeding across the sea to Skye. Having made many trips to this wonderful island, enjoying the hill walking and the hospitality (including Talisker, that wonderful star in the whisky firmament) Jackie and I were determined to try and capture this spirit in a Fisk furniture piece.
The initial bolt of inspiration actually struck over 700 miles away – in Copenhagen. One of my favourite cities, we loved the welcoming generosity displayed by the many pavement cafes and bars who place sheepskins on their chairs (and the fact that the Danes don’t pilfer them!) Why, I wondered, was it so rare to see a chair that is actually fully upholstered in sheepskin? And so the idea of this chair was born.
The very first priority of any chair is that it successfully serves its primary purpose – comfort. So we were very particular in our deliberations over the rake of the Skye chair’s back, the angle of the lugs – in short we wanted a chair that was as much a hug as a seat. It also had to have a presence and personality to do justice to its namesake, so we carefully selected a black long-haired sheepskin to provide the very essence of windswept and interesting. We want all of our Fisk furniture pieces to be as much a talking point in a loft of a croft and so decided on a counterpoint to the sheepskin with a 50’s-inspired cocktail chair-style base, upholstered in feature broad-chalked pinstripe. The finished piece is so striking and definitely one of my favourites.
With a tumbler of whisky lovingly poured from the Fisk Staffa drinks cabinet and rested within reach on a Howard table, you couldn’t have a better environment to contemplate the honest, sonsie face o’ the great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race.
Do make an appointment to view our full range in our showroom.
Who hasn’t been struck by the primeval geometry of Staffa’s basalt columns and the romance of Fingal’s Cave? It has inspired writers, explorers and, most famously, Mendelssohn who composed his Hebrides Overture in homage.
It was certainly an image that had lurked in the back of my mind over the years, reinforced by many a painting and engraving, before forcing its way into our thoughts as a prospective, and unusual, furniture design. I put pen to paper with many initial ideas – some attempting to also reflect the fluid outline of the island or its craggy brow, but we felt these were aping the island and that the sketches of, for example, an occasional table appeared forced.
Influences come from many directions and it was actually a piece of glassware by Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala, in an exhibition of Nordic Modernist Design at the National Museum of Scotland in January 2017, that proved vital in how Fisk would reference this pillared island in a piece of furniture.
It is often the ‘art of omission’ which enables a motif to provide substance to a design without overwhelming it – what you leave out being as important as what you include – and the elegant simplicity of Wirkkala’s glassware helped inspire the stylised, irregular columned doors of Fisk’s Staffa cabinet. The irregularity was further amplified by offsetting the doors and we drew the eye to this intriguing asymmetry with a brass finish fore-edge.
Of course, a drinks cabinet should hint at the pleasures within and this brass detailing acts as an invitation to open and explore a glamorous glass and smoked mirror interior.
In sketching out this piece we were as conscious as ever of our desire for Fisk furniture to complement any interior. We are delighted that the Staffa can be the centrepiece to a Cosmopolitan in the country as much as a Manhattan in – well, Manhattan.
We were incredibly proud that Fisk was shortlisted for the City Award at the 2017 Creative Edinburgh Awards.
Now an annual fixture, these awards aim to shine a light on Edinburgh’s creative achievements over the past year. The City Award looks for an “outstanding creative contribution that has promoted Edinburgh nationally or internationally…or has incorporated a cultural idea specific to the city.” It was our architecture-inspired cabinets and rugs, including the Circus, New Town and Playfair designs, which were singled out by the judges.
Congratulations to tech incubator, Codebase, who won on the night. We were thrilled to be judged in such innovative and creative company, shortlisted alongside GRAS’s designs for Edinburgh’s iconic Ross Bandstand; Hidden Door Festival’s reopening of the neglected Leith Theatre; Open Close’s illuminating arts project and Boat’s graphic novel.
We have designed each Fisk piece to be as striking in a croft or a loft, and with special finishes available to order. We’d love to introduce them to you in person, by appointment at our new Fisk showroom – so do get in touch.
Fisk has been catching the eye of some key names in the style media, from GQ to The Times, as we unveil our beautifully against the grain bespoke furniture launch collection.
We loved GQ’s Thomas Stephenson’s championing of the Fisk Rannoch chaise as one of the ‘10 Coolest Things in the World this Week’:
“Inspired by Scotland’s overlooked architecture and landscapes, Fisk’s first collection features 12 pieces, including our favourite, the Rannoch Chaise. Upholstered with sheepskin and reclined over natural antler legs, it’ll add a frisson of highland sophistication to your pad.”
“Elsewhere in the capital, other new launches have been making waves in the luxury sector. Fisk is a permanent addition to Edinburgh’s design scene from the couple behind the interior design company Ampersand.
Better known for overhauling the insides of the nation’s finest homes for the past 25 years, Callum and Jackie Fisken’s first foray into furniture reimagines Scotland’s landscape as upmarket occasional pieces. Their Staffa drinks cabinet takes its form from the eponymous island’s basalt columns, while rugs with patterns replicating the civic layout of Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town give a nod to the 250th anniversary of the capital’s re-creation.
The inaugural range also includes sheepskin-clad armchairs that wouldn’t look out of a place in a chic hotel lobby and a chaise longue with whimsical antler feet. Pieces are made to order with an 8 to 12-week lead time.”
If you didn’t wake up on Friday morning with memories of abundant withered vine walkways, peering crows perched on railings, Georgian fancy dress and some suitably intriguing and heady signature New Town Punch and Highland Fling cocktails, then you surely weren’t at the beautifully against the grain affair that was the launch of Fisk.
Our twelve unique bespoke furniture pieces, were unveiled to an invited party including Paul Walker of Walker Slater; Gabriella Bennett of The Times; Rachel Simmonds, Programme Director of Interior Design at Edinburgh College of Art and guests from Colefax Fowler; Drennan Antiques; Rem Associates; Melford property development; Zone Architects and ESPC Premier Living magazine, as well as our lovely friends and clients.
The Fisk launch collection ranges from the rugged sheepskin-upholstered Rannoch chaise and Skye chair, to elegant architecture-inspired cabinets and hand-tufted rugs, including the Circus, New Town and Playfair designs, influenced directly by Edinburgh’s Georgian architectural heritage. Each Fisk piece is equally at home in a croft house or penthouse, with special finishes available to order.
We loved welcoming guests and introducing them to Fisk bespoke furniture, reflecting on our long-held passion for reflecting the beauty of everyday motifs in a unique furniture collection, hand-made and expertly designed.
Our beautifully against the grain bespoke furniture company has launched its first collection, inspired by Scotland’s overlooked architecture and landscapes.
While thousands of residents and tourists fill the streets of Scotland’s capital and the moors and machairs of its coastline this August, Fisk has launched its first furniture collection based on the everyday, often overlooked details of our architectural and cultural surroundings so many of us might walk straight past.
The collection of twelve pieces includes the Giles rug inspired by the grilles beneath the windows of the Bank of Scotland headquarters on the Mound in the capital; an elegant Circus cabinet inspired by the graceful Georgian crescents of James Gillespie Graham’s Randolph Crescent, Ainslie Place and Moray Place in Edinburgh; a Playfair cabinet evoking Edinburgh’s neo-Classical architecture and its world-renowned purveyor, William Henry Playfair; and our New Town rug, subtly referencing James Craig’s acclaimed New Town plan designed for Edinburgh in 1767, and celebrating its 250th anniversary this year. Elsewhere in our collection a Punk sofa riffs on the genre’s appropriation of classic Scottish textiles and patterns, with its feature buckles and leather and stud detailing.
We are not just inspired by urban design and culture, but by the evocative and rugged landscapes of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. The Fisk Staffa cabinet reflects the incredible basalt columns of the island, its irregularly columned, off-centre doors opening to reveal a smoked glass. The striking Rannoch chaise boasts dappled curly sheepskin upholstery reclining over natural antler legs, reminiscent of the moorlands of the Scottish Highlands, and an Arran and Skye chair draw similarly unique design inspiration from their environments.
Many roads have led us here, but it is most definitely the one which lies ahead which excites us most this week, as we finally see our bespoke furniture launch collection unveiled and we take our vision for Fisk into the public gaze. What an adventure, with so much opportunity. We’re so glad to have you with us.
Callum and I have spent more than 25 years building and finessing our understanding of design, luxury craftsmanship and style. So much more than that, though, we believe our passions and inspirations are always what makes our work truly individual for clients.
Fisk bespoke furniture is the natural progression for our talents, embracing our enthusiasm for the everyday details of urban and rural environments and reflecting them in beautiful designs which exude character. Scotland’s extraordinary architecture and landscapes were the most obvious place to start, offering inspiration which proved hard to contain in only twelve pieces (so watch this space.. )
We hope to inspire you as you enjoy viewing Fisk’s launch collection online. Follow us over on our Instagram and Twitter pages for updates, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or ideas about the pieces. Indeed, if you see us out and about with our sketchpads and cameras, you might just catch sight of the intriguing Fisk creations still to come.