Use of strong colour is key to the beauty of Coucou Manou’s designs. Designer and maker Nell Beale says, “I love pattern and colour. More and more I seem to use the pieces I design as canvasses. Colour has always been hugely important to me throughout my life, from the clothes that I picked as a teenager to the way I decorate my own house. When I see a particular colour, it can make me really nostalgic. I love playing with colour schemes and I want to make beautiful things that make people go wow.”
Based near Bath, Coucou Manou makes unusual and striking furniture, often to order, using a mix of veneered sheet materials, solid timbers and Valchromat. The latter is a high quality high-density fibre board that is created ecologically from existing wood waste, dyed throughout so that the colour is solid. The transformation of these materials relies on the use of CNC machines to produce pattern, shapes and form. The pieces start from Nell’s original detailed drawings, which are transformed into plans for CNC precision-cutting and routing. Nell works closely with her local CNC company, specifying, discussing and carefully assessing the possibilities and pitfalls, and developing solutions for any issues. After cutting, the various components come back to her rural workshop, where she is meticulous in use of her cabinet making skills to join, sand, hand assemble, paint and finish each piece of furniture.
Nell was part of Crafts Council’s Injection programme in 2015 and joined the Design-Nation portfolio in 2017.