To say that David Ebbetts and Palmer Linwood Smith, co-founders of the new furniture brand South + English, are opposites is to see it in too limited a scope. Both tout their own design perspectives – Palmer is a Southerner through and through, and is also a painter and antiques dealer with a love of topsy-turvy yet balanced design; David, who grew up outside London, brings a more buttoned-up aesthetic – yet they come together to start a brand that feels both fresh and timeless. As seasoned design and furniture execs for the likes of Mr. Brown London and Julian Chichester, their experience has informed their creativity to craft a brand that brings something new and edgy to the table.
Their Clean Slate collection, launched this fall, will be showcased at AmericasMart Atlanta this January and their 30 thoughtfully designed pieces will be exhibited in the HD Home temporaries, an exclusive invite-only selection of furnishings and décor. We sat down with the duo to find out more about their exciting brand launch.
How would you describe the concept behind South + English?
Palmer: South + English is a way of living and being in the world, expressed through furniture and design. I am the South piece of the equation, new South I should say – modern, in motion, respectful of tradition all the while twisting and turning what was to create something new.
David: And I am English, of course. As business and creative partners, Palmer and I are very different people, but differences needn’t be polarizing – that’s an important message today in design and in life.
What was the impetus behind starting this new home furnishings brand?
David: We are both creatives at heart – and Palmer is actually a fine artist, a painter in his own right under the brush name Linwood. We found ourselves at a crossroads: design products and build brands for others or start our own company. I wasn’t ready to put on my slippers and call it a day, so South + English was born.
Palmer: There’s a great query: what would you do if you could do anything? South + English is our response. I think David is spot on with the emphasis on design and creativity. But to sing David’s praises, he also knows how to run a business!
Tell us about how AmericasMart is the right place to showcase the new line and what visitors can expect to see?
Palmer: Atlanta is the emotional heart of South + English. I grew up in South Georgia. As a child and young man, Atlanta was a beacon of creativity and style – and still is – for me. We are showing at HD Home, the AmericasMart creative incubator, so to speak, perfect for our new brand. Visitors may expect to see a jewel – beautiful new designs, innovatively staged, hip and classic all at once.
Could you tell us about some of the pieces in the first collection that you are showing?
David: I love our Callas pieces in a collection we call Clean Slate – dining tables and cabinets for now – so named in honor of the famous soprano. The design is quite distinctive. The dining table base, for example, features a series of individual vertical ribs set on a gold metal drum. It’s all bench made by hand. We’ve developed a choice of seven unique finishes, and, since Callas is made in America, designers can expect delivery in about 8 weeks. Customization is also on the table – or cabinet!
Palmer: Where to begin. There are two new mirrors that I labored over. Coburg is angular with a Prussian vibe. Giselle is inspired by maize-leaf carving and cast in Sculptor White, a gesso look. The 3-piece Galvarino coffee table is a scene-stealer, and our Franchetti chaise is swoon-worthy with a single curvaceous arm.
What is your favorite part of attending AmericasMart?
Palmer: It’s all about the people. Showing at AmericasMart is like a homecoming for South + English. First, the AmericasMart team is great. They make the show easy. It’s terrific to reconnect with designers, retailers and fellow exhibitors we’ve known for years. And then there are new friends. For anyone designing in the Southeast (and even beyond), the January show is a must-attend.