6th May 2021

Who is Isambard Kingdom Brunel?


Our Brunel collection includes some of our best-selling pieces and is inspired by arguably the greatest British engineer to have lived, but how much do we really know about this icon?

Born in 1806, Isambard Kingdom Brunel followed in his fathers’ footsteps; the two even worked together on the Thames Tunnel in 1825 – a project that almost resulted in the death of the young engineer. Brunel is now best known for his involvement in constructing tunnels, bridges, and viaducts – many of which are still in use today.

In Bristol, we are surrounded by his work, from the Clifton Suspension Bridge to the Temple Meads Train Station – which is why we felt it was suitable to pay homage to the master of engineering in our industrial designs.

A word from the designer:

“I wanted to create an iconic table leg that looked like Brunel designed it himself. Inspiration for the curved arch came from an old piece of industrial machinery. My obsession with industrial design helps me spot a shape or feature that can then be the starting point of a new piece of furniture.” 

Martin Ball – Creative Director

Clifton Suspension Bridge

His first major project was also his last – at just 24, Brunel won a competition, judged by architect Thomas Telford, to design the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The build completed in 1864 – 5 years after Brunel had died from a heart attack. 

SS Great Britain

Not only was he involved in the construction of railways and bridges, but he was also responsible for the designs of several famous ships, one of which, was the SS Great Britain, the world’s first iron-hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam-powered passenger liner. 

Great Western Railway

The Great Western Railway (between London and Bristol) is probably his best-remembered work due to the sheer scale of the project, including a network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts, in addition to Bristol Temple Meads and Paddington Train Stations.

Paige Allison