The Ottoman Empire


"WE'RE DOING THEM BECAUSE no one else is," ottoman designer Tim Marks says. "We can be as fanciful as we want to be, with no boundaries. You can do so much with just a box, you can fluff it up or make it stark. The same shape in two different places can look radically different."

The Ottoman Empire is a custom design and manufacturing company and design collective headed by husband and wife Tim Marks and Gail Blackburn. "Our No. 1 criterion for what we do is quality," says Mr. Marks, who with Ms. Blackburn conjures each design in the home where the finished piece will eventually reside. His stated goal, because of the generally small size of the pieces, is to create a devastatingly attractive personal element that is in itself a work of art.

After the initial design concept has been developed, the three full-time and two part-time upholsterers are invited into the decision-making process. "They know what's practical, so they have the last word," says Mr. Marks.

A graduate of the London College of Furniture, Mr. Marks is schooled in a variety of furniture-making skills, and his company will upholster everything from the smallest footstool to a large piece such as a sofa. The emphasis, however, is on the ottomans. Each piece becomes a small, perfectly made treasure.

"We do them because we want to," he says. It shows.

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