AFTER MORE THAN 50 YEARS IN THE BUSINESS OF ANTIQUES AND FURNITURE RESTORATION, BRITISH DESIGNER RICHARD BROAD BEGAN WONDERING “WHAT ELSE IS THERE?” “After so many years, when you make a table, initially it’s fun. But then, after the first leg, you don’t want to keep making the table,” he jokes from his Greenlake workshop.
Arriving in Seattle by way of Somerset and then New York, Broad also notes the perceived change in appreciation for his craft that he’s observed in the city since he first moved here in the 1980s. “When I first came here, there were at least a dozen antique dealers who had a good designation for the word antique,” he says. “They defined it in their stock and approach. Now, there are practically no antique dealers left in the city. They’ve been driven out by increased rents or lack of interest.”
What is piquing people’s interest, though are the antique bracelets that Broad creates from reclaimed scraps of the furniture he restores. Shaping the walnut, ebony, satinwood, and mahogany pieces using a lathe, Broad then accents each one-of-a-kind accessory with leather strips from vintage desk blotters that he sources from local auction houses. Finally, each bracelet is tooled with 22-karat gold leaf in traditional patterns that Broad models on styles dating back to the 17th century. “They’re individual, they’re random,” Broad says. “I don’t want to get into the idea of what to design.” As he tells it, the materials are what drive his inspiration. “A lot of the time you don’t know what you’re going to get when you start turning a piece of wood. You might get more color, more brightness, more variation than you imagined…that’s the exciting part.”
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