At Alexander Lamont we make furniture, lighting and accessories that are made to last for your lifetime and beyond. If well looked after, we believe our pieces will be the important collectable antiques of the future - given the increasing rarity of our materials, designs and techniques today. Our production is very small and we take great care to make sure the environment for our workers is as clean, comfortable, safe, well ventilated and well lit as possible.
Our products are not as cheap as some other Asian producers because we work with customers who recognize that quality comes at a price. We have great pride in showing our customers the quality of storage, procedure, work conditions, employee terms, management, safety and experience that is applied to our working areas and techniques.
All production is done by permanently employed workers who are part of our welfare and health schemes. We never pay our workers by the piece, appreciating that rushing our pieces is not possible.
We have periodic inspections by UL (electrical wiring facility) and Thai government factory inspectors for our production and storage areas. We have regular safety and fire inspections and training according to Thailand’s strict factory and labour laws.
Our main production areas are located on floors beneath our trade showrooms and office areas – thereby creating naturally cool spaces. Our production workers mostly prefer to work in natural air and fan ventilation than in air-conditioning.
Vegetal lacquers have inherent toxicity in their liquid state. In the fully cured (finished state) the lacquer is totally non-toxic and foodsafe. Our lacquer areas are well lit and well ventilated. To achieve a fine finish we have carefully planned closed areas where we ‘scrub down’ the floors thrice daily. This creates a very low-dust environment.
SHAGREEN OR GALUCHAT
Shagreen was commonly known to be made from sharkskin. In fact both shark and stingray were used in the past – the key difference being that sharkskin has a tiny diamond pattern while stingrays have beads of enamel with a larger central bead. In Alexander Lamont workshops only stingray skins from the species dasyatis bleekeri are used. Skins are obtained from stingrays fished in the coastal waters of Southeast Asia as a by-product of the fish meat industry. While the stingrays are a staple foodstuff in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, the skins are inedible and are discarded except at ports where their careful preservation is organized.
We only use raw skins and do not use skins that have undergone any form of chromium tanning. Tanned stingray skins are notorious for the unpleasant and polluting process.
At Alexander Lamont we endeavour to use every inch of each of these precious skins and we keep wastage to a minimum.
We source parchment (goat and sheep skins) from Europe and Asia. Goats are an important foodstuff throughout Indonesia and the Philippines. The skins are not tanned but are cured, dried and scraped to finally reveal the taught natural ivory tone. We use the maximum area of skin and keep ‘scraps’ for later use on small items. No chemicals are used in the preparation of these skins – compared with the chromium treatment of tanned leathers which are highly polluting.
Bronze and brass casting is done in non-zoned areas of rural Thailand, away from residential areas. This traditional method has changed from using wood and charcoal-fired crucibles to using oil and electric-fired crucibles. The considerable heat (over 1200 degrees Celsius) needed to melt the bronze does require a large energy usage. However, compared with plastics and other more ‘disposable’ materials, we believe that this energy use is justified in creating objects of lasting value with a precious material.
Workers in Thailand do not wear the heavy protective clothing found in US or European foundaries. In fact they prefer to wear shorts and open shoes. When asked about the apparent danger they have told me that the heat of the fire plus the heat of the Thai sun (often over 30 degrees C/approx 90 degrees F and intense humidity) means these suits are impossible to wear. It has been my observation that the bronze workers are very careful and skillful in making bronze in the way it has always been made in Thailand – one of the very early places in the world to caste bronze approximately 3500 years ago.
Straw is a benign material. We use water-based dyes to create colour. The marquetry areas are well lit and ventilated.
The value and vulnerability to dust and wind have led to our gilding areas being located on enclosed upper-floor rooms that are dust-free and gently air-conditioned. The rooms are well lit and ventilated.
Within our workshop we have sanding, spraying (resins for protection of gold leaf), inlay, lacquering, woodworking, gilding, patination and other production areas. Anyone involved in any work process with potential hazardous materials is trained in their storage and usage. Masks are required at all times in dust or spraying or sanding areas and recommended for general use. Every year work stops for a day and a detailed medical check-up is performed on all employees. Another day is spent on fire training by the fire department. We also have an annual trip to a resort in the mountains or at the beach, where workers can relax and have a chance to play.
Objects of grace and beauty cannot be made in conditions of hardship or pressure.