Interview - Richard England image

January 7, 2021

Members Interviews

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The perfect chair! Ultimately, it’s an unachievable goal – marrying form, function and fortitude to such a degree – but it won’t stop me trying.

How would you describe the style of your work?

My style is evolving but I guess it could be described loosely as contemporary. Form is what interests me most. Materials and design details follow from that.


What are your favourite materials to work with and why?  

Probably walnut. It’s such a beautiful looking timber and a joy to work with.


What are the benefits for you of being a member of the SFMA?  

Being part of a supportive community of passionate, like-minded people. 


What would you say are the challenges facing craftspeople today?  

Getting our work in front of the right people. Marketing is so important in building a successful business. It’s perhaps an uncomfortable truth to many, but people often don’t buy the best made furniture or even the best designed furniture – they buy the best marketed furniture. 


Why did you decide to become a furniture maker and what have you learned along the way?  

I’ve probably come to it from a different direction to most. My first career was in PR and marketing – largely in financial services. It was very intangible, and job satisfaction was usually achieved through the work of others. I wanted to market something I created, something I could see and touch, and something I was passionate about. Furniture got a hold and now I’m hooked!


What are your sources of inspiration?  

Everything really. Nowadays I struggle to follow plots in films and tv series, as I’m always distracted by the furniture in the background!


What’s your starting point in the design process?  

Quite simply, what the client wants – whether it’s just the kernel of an idea or a fully-realised vision. I work my ideas out directly on CAD – I use Fusion 360. I find it easier to riff on a theme that way. No pencils and paper, just my macbook and mouse. I love that interplay between modern technology and the traditions of furniture making.


What piece of work are you most proud of?  

To date, my low-back ‘Winzer’ chair. I made it at home during the first Lockdown. I didn’t use any machinery or power tools. With no lathe, the round, tapered legs were a challenge. The chair was made with traditional mortice and tenon joinery and the Harris Tweed seat was upholstered using horsehair. I had mixed emotions when the chair sold at an exhibition. I would gladly have kept it. But you can’t be too sentimental in our line of work.


What is the one item in your workshop that you couldn’t live without?  

My pencil sharpener! Sharp furniture starts with a sharp pencil. Accurately drawn lines are the very bedrock of refined, beautiful work.


Is there a particular technique you enjoy using in your work?

I enjoy incorporating gilding where appropriate. It’s a lovely process and produces an aesthetic that just can’t be replicated with other materials.   


Is there a piece you’ve always wanted to make but haven’t got around to yet?  

The perfect chair! Ultimately, it’s an unachievable goal – marrying form, function and fortitude to such a degree – but it won’t stop me trying.


When you’re not making furniture, how do you like to spend your time?

Hillwalking and attending the theatre and opera. 



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