Furniture designer, Christian O’Reilly, wins York art gallery contract

Cornish-based furniture designer Christian O’Reilly has won a contract to design and make bespoke seating for the £8million refurbishment of York Art Gallery.

Opening in summer 2015, the newly refurbished gallery will have 60 per cent more display space as well as a new entrance, collections store, café, shop, learning studio and green outdoor public spaces.

The building which houses the gallery opened its doors to the public in 1879 for the second Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, inspired by the Great Exhibition in London of 1851 and then in 1892 it became the City Art Gallery.

York Art Gallery’s collection of paintings spans more than 600 years and works range from 14th century Italian panels and 17th century Dutch masterpieces to Victorian narrative paintings and 20th century works by LS Lowry and David Hockney.

“We’re really excited to be involved in this redevelopment which will transform a beautiful Victorian building with new modern spaces and facilities,” he said.

“The staff at the gallery share our belief that furniture should belong in its space – complementing gallery design as well as the architecture of the building.

“We’re really enjoying developing ideas with the team in York and we’re very much looking forward to seeing the benches take their place in the new galleries next summer.”


This commission follows O’Reilly’s successful project to create 11 unique benches for the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), Exeter which in its new incarnation melds the 19th century Venetian Gothic building with a much sparer twenty-first century extension.

“In line with our brief, Christian O’Reilly’s public seating works successfully in both settings, as well as meeting all the practical concerns we identified O’Reilly will make 11 benches for the gallery,” said a RAMM statement.