Mark Gabbertas was born in Yorkshire in 1962, and graduated from DurhamUniversity with a degree in political philosophy. He joined an advertising agency as a motorbike messenger before moving to Saatchi and Saatchi where he stayed for nearly 8 years.
In 1990 he left advertising to train as a cabinet-maker. Initially this was as an apprentice with Codrington Furniture and then with Stemmer and Sharp at Oblique workshops in Hackney as a junior maker.
He set up on his own after two years training and embarked on the well trodden path of the designer-maker. Initially commissions were for private clients, but briefs from larger commercial organisations increased in number and became the focus of the workshop. Mark Gabbertas was commissioned to design the furniture for Atelier, a new restaurant in Soho, which won the FX Furniture in Practice award in 1995. The 3` chair that was designed for this project was subsequently licensed to Allermuir, which proved the start of a relationship with this company that continues to this day.
During this time, limited editions and batch produced designs were exhibited around the world. With the organisation New Designers, he exhibited at the ICFF in New York, the Cologne Furniture Fair and in London at the Business Design Centre. In 1996, he was sponsored by Hille to preview the Tubby chair at Orgatec in Cologne, which again was licensed ultimately to Allermuir. And under his own name, he exhibited at 100% London in 1995/6/7 and held an exhibition in association with Lloyd Loom at the Concord Gallery with Simon Pengelly in 1999.
Mark Gabbertas was at the forefront of the renaissance in British design in the 1990’s, especially the rise of the self-production designer. A number of retail outlets carried his work including Purves and Purves and The Furniture Union.
He won the competition held by the Geffrye museum to design furniture for the museum and worked with Allies and Morrison to design the public outdoor seating for Tate Britain. Despite the profile of this work, the trend was for a move away from commissions to working with manufacturers and he undertook projects with HJBerry, Lloyd Loom, Englender and of course, Allermuir. Work for these companies was shortlisted 4 times for the FX awards in 2000/1/2.
In 2002, he established Studio Gabbertas in West London. In the same year, he collaborated with Purves and Purves for the exhibition ‘Wood for Good’ presenting a variation of the original G90 table/bench that was included in the International Design Year Book 2001. Mark Gabbertas was the judge for the New Designer’s exhibition in London and exhibited in Sweden in Lamhults as part of the ‘designer’s day’ open exhibition.
A strength of the studio that was becoming increasingly apparent was that of upholstered seating and examples of this were projects for Artifex [Helm], Allermuir [Tommo], Boss [tom dick and harry], and Nomique [ebb/flo and Asis] with designs for these companies being shortlisted or winning 7 categories of 4 different award programmes in 2007/8. At the same time, the studio was pioneering new forms and processes for glass based furniture and the work for Isos [Alice mirrors and ‘on thecorner’ tables] and iglass, for whom the studio acted as creative directors, are good examples of this desire to push technologies. For iglass, the studio helped develop the process of printing on glass and a range of tiles for both wall and floor use were launched at 100% Design in 2006, followed by the ‘crosstile’ which was subsequently included in the International Design Yearbook 2007.
In 2006 the studio started to work with 2 leading outdoor furniture brands, Gloster and Valeur, at a time when this market area was undergoing significant re-evaluation by consumers and manufacturers alike………and designs such as Eclipse and Scoop were at the vanguard of this sea change when they were launched in 2007/8. Eclipse emerged as a somewhat iconic design, helping it to win the FX furniture awards in 2007. In 2009, three further ranges were completed for Gloster, including Axis, a reinterpretation of the historically traditional typology, teak furniture, which was awarded a red dot in 2010, and Cloud, which emerged as the definitive outdoor seating programme that continues to set the standard for the category and which has been recognised through a number of significant awards programmes worldwide. In 2010, Nomad and Bloc were launched for Gloster, both of which challenged received wisdom on how outdoor furniture could be designed and used and which have pushed the boundaries of exterior furniture design once again. The studio is now considered as one of the most experienced designers of outdoor furniture and continues to design for a number of brands operating in this sector.
Concurrently, the studio completed designs for a number of interior furniture brands which also could be considered as being at the vanguard of design thinking. The Haven range for Allermuir, comprising modular seating, benching, tables and screen systems is one the most comprehensive and technically challenging projects to come from the studio and took two years of research and development to resolve. The screen system incorporates the largest 3 dimensionally knitted component ever realised. The range received a red dot in 2012. The range was launched initially in Europe in 2011 and then in the USA later the same year at Neocon.
Also at Neocon in 2011, Leland launched Ebb, an upholstered seating programme which was awarded the ‘silver’ ‘best of Neocon.’
At the same time, work was exhibited by the Belgian brand, Mirodan, for whom the studio designed a series of glass based furniture, taking production techniques to the extreme in the process. The studio regards this as a great opportunity to work with a specialist and highly skilled manufacturer to realise really rather special designs that might not work for a more mainstream brand….. a rare opportunity.
In 2011, the studio was commissioned by two fledgling, but highly prestigious British brands, Chorus and Lyndon, to work on new projects. For Lyndon, a subsidiary of Boss, 4 ranges were previewed at 100% design 2012; two upholstery systems, Orten and Framed, and two table projects, Triad and Metro. These are the first in a number of projects planned for the brand as part of its repositioning following the tie-up with Boss. For Chorus, the studio developed a table system, Diabolo and an upholstered public seating programme, Mir, which were previewed at Design Junction in 2012.