I am a designer and maker of contemporary wooden furniture based in South London. Although rooted in the English furniture tradition at Heliconia Furniture I also use contemporary technology and methodologies to creates modern heritage pieces with narrative and provenance.
I am a designer and maker of bespoke wooden furniture, using everything from traditional woodworking skills to contemporary technology to create modern heritage pieces. In a previous life I worked in retail management and then IT project management, and carry the people skills and eye for detail through into my furniture company. I re-trained at the fantastic Williams and Cleal International Fine Furniture school on Exmoor in Somerset, where I learnt everything from traditional hand tool skills to the use of 21st century milling machines. The schools tutors can trace a clear linage back to the Arts & Crafts movement and embody its principles of design simplicity and material intelligence.
Although my grandfather was a carpenter and mechanical engineer and I have fond memories of his workshop, I only thought about woodworking as a career change whilst completing volunteer work in the forests of Ecuador. After several years at a desk I fancied doing something outdoors and physical and so the volunteering agency sent me to a village in the cloud forests on the pacific slopes of the Andes, where I was invited to stay with a lumberjack, Miguel and his family. As well as teaching English to everyone in the village in the evenings (terrifying!), I helped Miguel to fell and drag trees out of the forest during the day. I cut my hands to pieces, I nearly took my head off with a chain saw but generally I had a fantastic time. The forest was full of rainbow coloured parrots, lizards the size of dogs and these bizarre but beautiful heliconia flowers at the base of each tree we felled. The heliconia name seemed like a good fit for a woodworking business; natural but somehow full of engineering.
Involving mostly low turnover, specialist work, my practice is deliberately kept small scale with slow production and a short custody chain. Most of my projects are focused on materiality and the specific provenance of the timber is of paramount importance. When choosing materials for my products, I buy timber from local sources – trees that have fallen or have been ethically felled (trees that have been taken down for safety reasons or for the health of trees around it). Bespoke projects often involve clients with different costs and timescales and if the trees are not locally felled the timber is sourced through reputable FSC assured timber yards. For the last 3 years I have been involved in a Forest Commission steering group to discuss the felling, storage and distribution of timber from the urban forest. My waste disposal includes firewood bags I take to customers in Kent & Surrey and beyond. My wood chippings are picked up by local garden businesses in South London who use the waste for mulch and a local potter who uses it for firing.
Now based in South London - I provide a bespoke commission service for private individuals and commercial businesses.
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