Take a seat in a rarified world
Updated: 2014-12-27 05:14
By Matt Hodges(Shanghai Star)
Furniture to fancy: An Infinity Table from the bespoke furniture maker. Photo provided to Shanghai Star
In 29 years, the company has provided some almost impossibly engineered furniture and 3D art for the palaces, private residences and super yachts of just 30 clients, including "12 of the 20 richest people in Russia," says Ashworth.
Madonna, Kevin Costner, David Bowie and the brother of the Sultan of Brunei also own coveted pieces, along with at least one Asian customer: a businessman from Singapore.
Armed with a heavy dose of Sinophilia, Ashworth is targeting the top 1 percent of China's swelling population of ultra high net worth individuals — those with a personal fortune of at least US$30 million.
But while he may be the company's mouthpiece here, close friend Mark Boddington is its centrifugal force.
Having emerged from the shadow of his family's brewery business, Boddington set up the company in 1985 and is now considered among the finest furniture-makers of his generation. He previously trained with John Makepeace.
"With the growth of the Asian Tiger, the future has to be on the Asian continent, together with Britain's unique heritage and respect for British-made goods," says Boddington, adding that his company is now working on seven yachts larger than 70m.
One Russian tycoon paid the company 8 million British pounds to retrofit his super yacht, while the wife of a Texan billionaire commissioned a games table embossed with images of the aircraft her husband flew in World War II.
"We are like the Formula One of bespoke furniture: innovative, with excessive costs, but most of all we represent attractive, addictive passion," Ashworth says.
"McLaren have even met with our engineers to understand how we make some of our lightweight materials," he says, referring to the cutting-edge F-1 outfit. "We have also worked closely with Bentley."