What is it about wood that attracts you? "Woodworking skills came to me easily through a combination of reading, observation and practice. With my growing interest in forestry, I have come to realise what an extraordinary luxury fine timber represents. The thought that no two pieces of wood are the same still amazes me. I think it is the totality that I enjoy so much. There is so much involved in sourcing the materials, understanding the nature of them and how you put them together, and learning how you can do that better; how technology impacts and how design can be more effective; and how furniture can communicate."
Your chairs are highly distinctive. What is the key quality you strive for? "We design chairs for everybody. They are all comfortable. It is such a rare experience to sit on a really comfortable chair. The science of seating has been well researched. When this is imaginatively applied, it is possible to seat people of very different heights and physique in comfort. Too many chairs ignore the principles."
How do you source rare timber? "Whenever I see a really exceptional tree in a lumberyard I will often buy it in order to be able to offer clients a wide range of choice of indigenous woods. Among my clients are the owners of great estates where their forests have been magnificently managed over the centuries, producing wood of the highest quality. For them it is advantageous to sell these to me rather than to the sawmilling trade."
What part of the creative process excites you the most? "It is hard to say as I love the whole sequence, from discussing new projects with clients, working through various possibilities in the design process, discussing the proposals with the client, selecting the materials and overseeing the making through to installation."
How has technology enabled your work to evolve? "I find it best to develop concepts through drawing, model-making and full-size mock-ups. These then go onto the computer. This provides a high degree of precision in three-dimensional forms, enabling an efficient means of practical and aesthetic refinement before making any prototypes.
"For more than 20 years we have made various cabinets with sculpted surfaces; as individual items, these have been done by hand, however, several recent projects have involved digital sculpting and I am excited about the potential for this as a way of celebrating the luxury of solid timber."
What are you currently working on? "We have just completed a stunning leaf-shaped dining table in mulberry and cast bronze, and a set of dining chairs for a house in Repulse Bay. For another client in Hong Kong, we made their dining furniture and a display cabinet in yew."