The winner of the prestigious Best British Designer Award 2013, Welsh designer Bethan Gray combines a passion for using luxurious natural materials – leather, marble and solid wood – with an extensive knowledge of craftsmanship and cutting- edge manufacturing technologies. Her warm and contemporary designs reflect her personal history. Her maternal ancestors, famous for being artistically inclined, travelled from Rajasthan to Persia hundreds of years ago before eventually settling in Wales in the 18th-century. Bethan’s designs are hence strongly rooted to both traditional Welsh culture and craft as well as to the geometric patterns and forms, and use of light found in the East. She is further inspired by everyday items that surround us all, and to objects and buildings discovered whilst travelling the globe. Her great-great-grandmother defied 19th-century convention to become a cabinetmaker, whilst her grandfather worked as a forester and made small carved objects for Bethan as a child – nurturing her love of crafting objects from those natural materials.
Following her graduation from DeMontfort University, with a degree in Three Dimensional Design, Bethan was discovered by Tom Dixon in 1998 when he awarded her the prestigious New Designers Innovation Prize, which led to a role at Habitat. Six years later she was their Design Director. Whilst there, she designed their best selling Parker and Hana ranges and overall her enduring designs accounted for 20% of global turnover. During these years she also gained invaluable experience working with manufacturers and craftspeople from all over the world. She left to establish her own eponymous studio in 2008, to both broaden her client base and work with the luxury materials she was so passionate about. Having previously established a successful program of collaboration at Habitat, commercially successful design collaborations are now at the heart of the approach to work at Bethan Gray Design.
Whether it’s working on bespoke commissions and collaborations, such as her elegant and timeless collection of table ware for Wallpaper* Handmade; her collection of solid marble and brass tables for stone specialist Lapicida; through to her own boutique collection of occasional tables, G&T, Bethan’s warm and contemporary, timeless and elegant aesthetic is instantly recognisable. Her deep understanding of the needs of a retailer and the manufacturer have led to best-selling collections for the Design Collective at John Lewis and newly launched major collaboration with US retailer Crate & Barrel and her exclusive collections can be seen is some of the most prestigious stores globally, including Lane Crawford in Asia and Liberty and Harrods in London.