Cathy Azria is a tiny powerhouse, a southern-French dynamo surrounded by a workshop full of heavy metals, tools and furnaces. These are the components of BD Designs, a boutique company that has made a name for itself with its beautiful fireplace installations which have been commissioned for indoor and outdoor spaces in residential homes, hotels and restaurants, spas and public spaces.
The idea for Cathy’s unique designs evolved when she moved to London from the island of Porquerolles and begun experiencing true northern hemisphere winters and summers. “The fireplace is central in so many homes but here in the city you can’t have a real fire,” she says. “The gas imitations were so ugly that I began to think this was somewhere that needed my sculptures. My first designs were very linear, picking up on traditional fire elements such as sticks of wood and matches. As the designs evolved, so the shapes softened, and my current looped range allows the flames to flicker in a series of full circles. The effect is mesmerising.”
Climb the stairs from workshop to light-filled Kensal Rise studio and you’ll find the musings of a fine art sculptor, which explains the finesse that goes into Cathy’s bigger projects. Known for her elegant decorative human forms cast in bronze, she also designs hand-carved concrete garden pieces inspired by nature. Indoors, sculptural table and chair bases have formed the basis for tentative steps towards furniture design. The first pieces are a beautiful drinks trolley that aims to reintroduce afternoon tea and evening cocktails, comically named ‘Oscar the Butler’ and a sculptural combined table and book rest called the ‘Lazy Reader’. There is also a hand-sculpted cast-bronze table, sized and shaped to order. All three are art pieces rather than items of furniture, aimed at an audience that loves to collect and hand down beautiful things. Says Cathy: “It sounds clichéd to say that life is enriched by being surrounded by beauty, but it’s true. In the city we have a sensory overload and so there is a real personal value in being able to centre your thoughts on one piece that you enjoy. If you can pass on this piece to a loved one, then that value and the experience of owning it is transferred to the next generation. For me, that makes the creation process so worthwhile.”
Cathy’s sculptures and fireplaces can be viewed by appointment only at BD Designs.
BD Design, Unit 2 Park Mews, 213-215 Kilburn Lane, London W10; bd-designs.co.uk