Case Study: Library inspired by Prague’s Strahov Monastery

The working relationship between woodcarver and cabinet shop has existed for centuries. We use tried-and-true techniques passed down through generations of our trades that ensure our hand-carved ornamentation integrates perfectly into joinery projects.

One example of this partnership was a complex library we did with bespoke British joinery company Artichoke Ltd. Artichoke has earned a reputation for meeting tight deadlines—and when they promise a delivery schedule to their clients, they expect their subcontractors to do the same.

Thanks to our large workshop and dedicated project managers, we are able to meet virtually any deadline while never sacrificing quality. We had not worked with Artichoke before and we were keen to develop a lasting relationship with them. It was a perfect match.

Artichoke had been commissioned to produce a grand library in a late-17th century Grade II listed Georgian Hall in the English countryside. The exquisite design was based on the Philosophical Hall of the Strahov Monastery in Prague—a library built in a lavish Baroque style with typically bold features such as gilded ornamental woodcarving. (Check out this stunning panoramic photo of the library here.) Our task was to create hand-carved decoration as opulent and as beautiful as the original.

Artichoke needed more than 120 hand-carved acanthus leaf ornaments, in addition to numerous mouldings, swags, and other decorations, delivered in just over eight weeks. Obviously we didn’t have the luxury of time on our side.

There would be more than 2,000 carving hours in this project. That kind of production is impossible for a small workshop, so in some cases a joinery company might opt to work with a loose collective of workshops. That can create potential issues such as inconsistent quality and complicated personnel management. Luckily for Artichoke, our workshop is able to produce 50,000 carving hours annually. We also have dedicated project managers to keep everything moving efficiently.

We collaborated with Artichoke to produce samples that would help verify design and construction details and establish quality expectations. They sent us drawings, templates, and photographs to communicate relevant information, and we returned to them beautiful hand-carved samples in our own timber.

Throughout the process we kept them informed of our progress with regular updates and photographs. Samples went back and forth over a couple of weeks, allowing for minor tweaks that would ultimately guarantee all the actual pieces would fit perfectly. We then hand-carved each individual ornament and returned everything to Artichoke for gilding.

Retaining complete control of all the construction details saved Artichoke time and money, and it ensured a smooth installation within the promised delivery schedule. Best of all, the end result was a stunning library that remains a true masterpiece of our time.

Read Artichoke’s case study of this project here. Some photos below courtesy of Artichoke, Ltd.