Take a seat in a rarified world

Updated: 2014-12-27 05:14

By Matt Hodges(Shanghai Star)

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Take a seat in a rarified world

Silverlining founder Mark Boddington. Photo provided to Shanghai Star

Some of the pieces churned out by Silverlining's 55 craftsmen look like obscure works of art, for example a huge, polished wooden pebble that evokes Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate; many are considered investments.

One sold at Sotheby's 21st Century sale earlier this year for 3.3 times its estimated value. The company bills its pieces as "antiques of the future".

With orders pipelined until 2019, the company is a hotbed of creativity as its designer and engineers work in close collaboration with clients to magic up new inventory. It has over 1,400 shades of blue alone. One new "invisible finish" on wood makes red-wine spills a thing of the past, it claims.

The exception to its one-of-a-kind mantra is a funnel-shaped Infinity Table made of rippled sycamore and colored lacquer that changes color as sunlight moves over it. Eight versions of the perception-challenging table will be produced, priced up to over one million yuan ($160,000).

One will be demonstrated at next year's Shanghai Design Expo — but they have yet to make it. The original piece was snapped up by a Russian client who refused to take no for an answer.

As lunch draws to a close, Ashworth leans over and unlocks the case, drawing uninvited stares from nearby diners.

What would usually be a forgettable box of industrial materials becomes a tantalizing look through the keyhole into Silverlining’s lifeblood: there is a kind of plastic that feels like wood, but with a sand-dune pattern on top; embossed yellow leather molded into an elaborate floral design; blown glass bubbling to various degrees on one surface.

"The furniture we make is as intricate as your imagination," says 'Mr Ham' with deserved pride.


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