CoucouManou is a quirky, evocative new furniture brand producing amazing child friendly pieces with their own style aesthetic. Fluxlings speaks to designer Nell Beale on launching CoucouManou, and her artisan approach to design and build.

 

 

Buying kids furniture is a really fun challenge. You can go completely bonkers with colour and motifs in a way that you just wouldn’t dream of in most pre-child universes.

So it’s great to discover new designers who are making the job even more delightful with kids furniture pieces that you will look upon with envy from your grown up spaces.

The wonderful CoucouManou range by Nell Beale (the name CoucouManou derives from Coucou which is “Hi” in France, and Manou, an affectionate term for Nell’s daughter Manon) is a really amazing child/adult crossover range of beautifully crafted design pieces all finished by hand. The designs range from wardrobes designed with turrets and flowers to highly functional drawers and cupboards. Each piece is created from high quality materials, crafted using solid, trusted construction methods. Finishes are in paint, oil or wax that is eco friendly and 100% child safe. And everything they offer is designed and built in the UK.

Fluxlings speaks to Nell on her inspiration and her artisan approach to design and build.

 

FLUXLINGS: What made you decide to set up your own furniture design company?

NELL BEALE: Designing and making freestanding and fitted furniture for private clients is something I have been doing now for the past 18 years. I have reached a point where I want to concentrate solely on designing my own collection on spec, rather than to commission, so that I have free reign in the designs.
 
FLUXLINGS: What materials do you use?
 
NB: We mainly use high quality sheet materials such as veneered birch plywood and a material called Valchromat which is the black board used in the Boulder Range. All the materials, including the paints, are classed safe to use for children’s toys and every piece is finished by hand using water based paints & toluene free waxes.
 
FLUXLINGS: Where are the items designed and made?

NB: The pieces are all designed by me whenever the inspiration takes me. I start with sketches and then move onto the computer to draw up the designs in CAD. They are currently made by myself in the CoucouManou workshop near Bath but as the company grows we will form an in-house workshop team.

FLUXLINGS: Is there a common thread that makes a piece stand out as a CoucouManou piece?

NB: I suppose the obvious theme is the colour that runs through virtually every piece. I do get enormously excited by colours! All the pieces have a look of simplicity to them as well, clean lines and bold shapes.

FLUXLINGS: Did you study furniture design? How did you first get into it?

NB: I studied on an HND Furniture Design course at Shrewsbury college between 1992 to 1994. That’s a scarily long time ago! It taught me an awful lot about cabinet making and design. Previously to that, I did a City & Guilds Joinery Skills course for a year which is where I discovered I was rather good at it.

FLUXLINGS: Do you have your own favourite piece of furniture in your home or office ?

NB: Well, I do have a pot cupboard that belonged to my Granny that I’m very fond of but unfortunately it resides in our house in France as we couldn’t fit it in the van when we moved back to the UK. So, in my home, it has to be the Green/blue Boulder Display unit!

FLUXLINGS: Has your child inherited your love of design?

NB: I have an eight year old daughter who certainly has her own style when it comes to fashion and she comes up with some great outfits! She does like to look through design books and magazines with me and she often gives me her ideas on colour schemes, not that I use them! So, yes, I would say she has an interest in design.

For more information or to buy CoucouManou see www.coucoumanou.com.