Maker of the month - Designer and engineer Louis Calmels, Fairlight

Louis Calmels - Designer of the Khora Dome

Louis Calmels - Designer of the Khora Dome - Credit: Archant

British engineer and designer Louis Calmels has been making custom-built, high quality architectural metalwork, garden structures, furniture and lighting for more than 25 years.

Louis is the third generation of his family to be involved in the metalwork business and many of the craftsmen who work with him have been in the company all their working lives.

His latest exciting venture is the design and launch of Khôra Spaces, a range of unique glass and metal structures incorporating the company’s signature curved glass dome.

The Khôra Dome, the first contemporary domed garden room made of steel and curved glass, combines a classical aesthetic with modern engineering and was inspired by the Palm House at Kew. The dome recently premiered at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2014, winning two prestigious awards.

The prototype for the Khôra Dome was built as an extension onto Louis’s home at Fairlight in East Sussex, where he has lived since 1992. “We bought it as a wreck and renovated it,” he says. “My wife Maggie used to regularly go to that part of Sussex as a child – she has fond memories of playing on Winchelsea beach so it was a place that was very familiar to her.” But Louis also felt that Sussex was the perfect place to bring up his children. “We had two young boys and wanted them to have access to the countryside growing up – they loved it. Also it’s a beautiful spot – opposite a pretty Victorian church (which replaced the original Norman one in 1845) and backing onto the open cliffs and glens of the Fairlight Country Park, known locally as the Firehills. On a clear day you can see beyond the white cliffs of Dover in one direction and Eastbourne and the South Downs in the other, and across the channel to the coast of France.”

The dome was added to their property four years ago. It’s worked out really well, Louis says. “It’s a fantastic place to be at any time of the day. It looks particularly amazing at night when the chandelier by Rocco Borghese is lit up.”

Louis’ workshop is based in Vauxhall in London and he and his wife Maggie divide their time between working commitments in London and their beautiful home in Fairlight.

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