Ferrious - Altrincham's new cutting-edge furniture store
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 May 2019
Ferrious, the recently opened furniture store in Altrincham, has a long history of pleasing design conscious customers.
Ferrious was founded by Jeremy West and Paul Tempest in 1989, as a solution to pending unemployment.
'We graduated with degrees in Interior Design in 1989,' says Jeremy, 'straight into the face of a recession. There were no jobs doing what we wanted to do, so we decided to create our own. We designed pieces of furniture, took them to shows in Milan, Paris, London… and then made up the resulting orders.'
It all sounds very millennial, a good few decades before the term was even coined. Jeremy makes it sound easy, but surely it can't have been that straightforward?
'Oh, we didn't make any money!' he laughs. 'Any profit we made we put straight back into the business. We opened a small showroom on Whitworth Street, in Manchester, and just did that for a long time, then we realised that we were making more than we were designing. There was no time to be creative. Our solution was to expand the premises, bring in a careful selection of high end interiors brands and become an interior design resource, rather than a designer-maker.'
This idea really took off, with customers asking Jeremy and Paul to design their home and business interiors – at last, this was what they had both trained for.
'About six years ago we realised that most of our residential customers were based in or near Altrincham. These clients would come to our showroom, and we would visit commercial clients in their place of work. Gradually residential customers stopped coming: the Manchester location just wasn't working for us any more. We love design and have always sacrificed everything in order to show what we believe is the greatest design in the world, so we needed to move somewhere where people could see us and we could talk to them about what we loved. So we started looking for a place in Altrincham.
'Why the building that we are in? Well quite simply it is beautiful and needed two guys with more passion than sense to give it some love and let it show that the most contemporary design in the world can sit comfortably in a historic building or home.
'I had seen it a lot as I visited Altrincham and had become wildly obsessed with it. Ideally, a furniture store needs a lot of windows. This is wrapped on two sides with floor to ceiling glass – and it has a wonderful history. I have done a lot of research on it. It was built in 1936 by a certain Montague Maurice Burton, who had come to England in 1900 – a Lithuanian Jew named Meshe David Osinsky. He started selling men's suits door-to-door and by 1903 had opened his first store, in Chesterfield. He went on to be the biggest retailer of men's fashions in the UK, with the brand still going today – Burton menswear. He really wanted corner sites for all his stores, even buying sites along the streetfront until he could get to the corner, and developed a house style of how every store should be: Art Deco. I knew that beneath the fascia boards acid-etched glass and gold leaf printed windows were there, it was just a matter of what condition they were in.
'When we finally came to remove the boarding it was so exciting – but then a massive disappointment: many were broken and someone had painted over all the windows. When we finally scraped it back, it was all as it had been though. I was determined to restore the building as far as I was able to. I even travelled to Aberystwyth to see the store there, still as it was first built, as I wanted to photograph the doors and have new ones made for our own building.'
It's a fabulous space, that's for sure, and it allows Jeremy and Paul to showcase the brands they carry in grand style. The lighting is breathtaking and the few carefully selected pieces of furniture all stand-out beautiful.
'I'm not one for cramming stuff in,' Jeremy laughs. 'We only work with ten carefully chosen brands and design houses. By working in this way we have developed close relationships with people we like, who we trust to deliver the service customers who are investing in such pieces deserve. Every piece has a longevity to it. Our Carl Hansen collection is among our biggest sellers, yet he would be 110 years old now. We also watch out for today's equivalents: Michael Anastassiades, for example, who designs for Floss lighting, is a genius. There aren't many designers I am jealous of, but he's one.'
Ferrious is a place people can find furnishing classics of the past - and the future. Whether it's a single piece of furniture or lighting, an entire room scheme, residential or commercial interior design, this is far more than a furniture store – it's a design destination.
47–49 Stamford New Road
Altrincham | www.ferriousonline.co.uk