Timothy Oulton

Co-founder of Timothy Oulton Studio

About Speaker

Exposure to the antiques industry from an early age introduced Tim to beautiful design. In 1976, his father, Major Philip Oulton, opened a village shop near Manchester, England, and called it Halo Antiques. From the age of seven, Tim attended Ampleforth College, a 200-year-old boarding school run by Benedictine monks, who instilled in Tim the value of personal contribution. As a teenager he pitched in at his father’s store during the summers, and when he left school at 18 with no clear plan, he joined his dad full-time. Three months in he was hooked. In 1990, Tim took the helm at Halo.  

After a decade working in the antiques trade, Tim had learned everything about craftsmanship and materials, but realised that buying and selling antiques wasn’t scalable. He wanted to build a business and contribute something of real impact. So taking his knowledge of craftsmanship and eye for vintage pieces, the young creative began to craft new products out of reclaimed wood and distressed leather for wholesale, which brought him to the Canton Fair in China twice a year.

Things really took off in 2004 when Tim decided to move to China, initially hiring a workshop that made gym shoes to handcraft his first sofa collection. “The reason I came to Asia”, he says, “was because I knew that I wanted a diverse collection – upholstery, cabinetry, tables, lighting – and I don’t know of another place where I could have managed that complexity and detail at such a high level of quality.” 

As the business grew, Tim launched his eponymous retail collection in 2008 and opened the first Timothy Oulton store in Los Angeles.  Over 40 stores followed, including New York, Sydney, Moscow, New Delhi, Hong Kong, and an award-winning flagship in Chelsea, London. 

In 2010, a friend introduced Tim to Simon Laws, who had his own successful business designing and constructing customised houses in Australia. They instantly clicked. The pair began work on Halo’s 40,000 square foot showroom in Gaoming, cladding the entire ground floor with 2,000 French doors that Tim had collected over the years. The next project was to transform an old lychee orchard near to the workshops into a tranquil ‘village’, with seven brick-clad round houses accommodating Tim and his international design team who travel to China for extended periods. A sustainable, prefabricated timber dome called the Dome Home was constructed as a social hub where the team could engage in conversation, eat together, and host overseas guests. More domes have since been built and shipped to clients across the globe for a multitude of uses from spas to restaurants to showrooms. 

These inspiring projects took the company’s design well beyond furniture and into full spatial experiences, leading Tim and Simon to formally set up Timothy Oulton Studio in 2014, offering fully bespoke project concept design, manufacturing, and installation supervision. “The company has fantastic resources and the ability to do things that are just not possible elsewhere” says Tim. “We have specialists in wood, stone, furniture making, upholstery, lighting, so many areas that we can pull together in a project and create pretty much anything you could imagine.”

Boundary-pushing projects include the Apollo private VIP pod, the San Kok Arts showroom, for which Timothy Oulton Studio received the 2018 Perspective A&D Trophy Award, and 1880 in Singapore; a 22,000 square foot members’ club, colliding the notions of work and pleasure. 

As for what’s next, Tim Oulton continues his quest to enrich lives through great design, from one-off installations that transform a space to large-scale show-stopping environments that have the power to change how people feel, behave, and connect with one another.        



13:30 17 September 2020