David Linley, son of Princess Margaret and 18th in line to the British throne, can get excited about wooden boxes. “Well, we are box-makers," he says. “And a neatly finished box is a very pleasing object." Linley is, of course, more than his aristocratic connections: the son of photographer and architect Antony Armstrong-Jones, he followed his father’s creative leanings in learning to become a cabinet maker and then, 30 years ago, established a business making bespoke and off-the-peg furniture and homewares.
But he’s uncommonly enthused by his latest offering: a collection of compendia – portable boxes that open to reveal drawers, holders and stands – designed in conjunction with art supplier Winsor & Newton.
While the new range starts at £250 (S$447) for an ink drawing set in walnut, the top of the range weighs in at £12,500 (S$22,120). Yes, it may be made with a ripple sycamore veneer bleached to mimic the colour of primed canvas, and have a marquetry colour wheel of 12 hand-dyed birch, tay and bolivar veneers, not to mention the 13 brushes, 96 watercolours and various other bits of kit inside – but clearly this is not for the impoverished artist.
“We get that of course," laughs Winsor & Newton’s creative director Ben Hovanessian, “but still feel artists of all levels would appreciate the craftsmanship that has gone into these watercolour boxes. We actually sold the first one to a practising watercolourist."
Winsor & Newton hopes the Linley compendia will be the first of a number of such collaborations, with ones with fashion and product designers being planned. “Because," as Hovanessian puts it, “these are all tools and materials that aren’t restricted to fine artists in their use – they’re enablers to creative expression of all kinds."