The New House of Windsor


The New House of Windsor:
Bern Chandley talks to F&C about his interpretation of a style that’s never been out of fashion.

Bern Chandley talks to F&C about his interpretation of a style that’s never been out of fashion

They say you should never meet your heroes and I’m inclined to think that the same rules apply when deciding where your next project will take you. Not so much a hero as an icon, the Windsor chair is so deeply ingrained in Western culture that to understand it completely is to understand man’s journey from
stone-wielding Neanderthal to steel-wielding millennial. And while the distance travelled is not commensurate with the time it’s taken to get here, the journey has been momentous.
Sitting in on a class at The Windsor Workshop last year James Mursell explained to me that ‘Windsor is not a
style, it’s a technique’. Dumbing it down for my benefit he went on to explain that any piece of furniture that has at its centre a slab of timber through which legs, arms or backs are passed constitutes a Windsor. And for a split second, in rural West Sussex time stood still and I’ve been considering the implications of that bombshell ever since. Suddenly the lineage of Welsh stick chairs to Shaker benches to Scandi chic and beyond all made sense.

New but familiar
One of many contemporary iterations of the Windsor form is being made by Bern Chandley in Melbourne, Australia. ‘I guess you could say it’s based loosely around the idea of a Shaker style,’ he told us, but that’s inevitable, surely? I mean weren’t the Shakers the original exponents of minimalist proportions for an aesthetic effect? For ‘effect’ yes, ‘original’ definitely not.
Bernard has been a furniture maker for 17 years, less than the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things, but has put his use of the Windsor technique to great effect in creating some of the slickest contemporary seating you’re ever likely to see. You could argue that in terms of development we haven’t really come that far as the basic principles are the same whichever century you care to study. Stylistically, however, the subtle shifts in form make every version a variation of a perfect form that’s not only stood the test of time but has also lived in perfect harmony with its surroundings for the majority of man’s time on this planet. 

An iconic design originating in 18th-century New York, the Continuous Arm Rocker includes the eponymous crest rail, which is one length of hand-shaped wood steambent to form the three curves. The version pictured here is painted pin oak with Melbourne street elm seat.

The Lowbow Diner is part of Bern’s contemporary range of furniture under the ‘Windsor modern’ brand, designed with smaller dwellings in mind. While they would be perfectly at home in a larger area they come into their own in the confined spaces of apartment living. They are light, versatile and comfortable. The version pictured here is in American black walnut

The Lowbow Rockers are designed for those who like to keep their hands busy while relaxing. Whether playing guitar or crafting, these rockers provide incredible comfort and support. The Lowbow Rocker has a small footprint so it’s perfect for a home where space is at a premium. The version pictured here is in American black walnut

Based on the late Rodback-style American Windsors, the entire upper section of the Rodback Settee is steam bent for comfort and beauty. The version pictured here is in Tasmanian blackwood with English ash spindles

Based on the historic Welsh stick chair, this dining/armchair has a one-piece steambent arm rail and, as with the seat and spindles, it is carved and shaped by hand. The Lowback Stick Chair evokes both the simplicity of its Welsh origins and the sophistication of the mid-century modern style. The version pictured here has an elm seat and arm rail, the spindles and legs are American white ash

The Shaker Modern Bench is a contemporary take on the traditional Shaker Meeting Bench. It can be built to any length and in a number of timber species


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