There’s something so romantic about furniture with a story. But if you can’t find that perfect second hand piece, or you’re a sucker for a contemporary industrial style, then you might be tempted to go new. However, this doesn’t have to mean ditching the back story. Furniture makers Richard and Andrew created Salvation Furniture, based in Suffolk, as a way to create beautiful pieces with soul. Often made from salvaged materials, the pieces by Salvation Furniture feel as good to touch as to use.
We caught up with Richard to give us a bit more detail about the brand and share an insight into life as a furniture maker….
Tell us a bit about your background – how did you come to be a furniture designer?
I’d worked in publishing and communications for years, but felt a deep need to try something altogether different. A new challenge.
I’ve always been a real auction addict, bidding on forlorn-looking pieces of country pine to repair and rejuvenate in my workshop. This passion for old and characterful furniture was the catalyst to do something bigger. And while I wanted to create furniture with an instantly natural warmth and convivial feel, I didn’t want it to be too quaint and ‘chocolate-box-cottage’. I decided that reclaimed and character wood combined with sleek and angular steel was the perfect partnership of old and new.
What sets the furniture you make at Salvation apart from mainstream high street brands?
Just about everything! First of all it’s a real artisan approach. I’m working with my own hands or with other small makers, so it’s not a huge factory operation churning out replica pieces. Everything Salvation makes is unique. Similarly, each piece of wood is individual with its own character, and that’s the appeal to me. I don’t like things to be too ordered, but more natural, rustic, relaxed and lived-in.
We’re also making things in the UK, which has a sustainable edge while offering the chance to get something that’s fully bespoke, rather than having to compromise with a large-scale, factory-made item. Yes, this might have a small cost implication (but probably not as much as you might imagine), but if you want that table to be 20cm longer, taller or higher, to fit your space perfectly, we’ll do it! Suffolk also plays a role in our look. It’s a really kicked-back county, off-track and has a relaxed, escapist air to it, so I like to think that’s fed into the DNA of each piece we make.
What do you love about reclaimed wood and the mixture of the materials you use?
I love the counterbalance of a slab of gnarly wood that’s lived a life and carries the scars of its past existence with the sleek, modernist edge of steel. It’s about bridging the gap between the kind of warm, convivial feelings you get hunkered down around an old table in a country pub, with a design that has relevance and makes a statement in today’s contemporary spaces.
Tell us about the process of designing and making a piece – how long does it usually take to create a piece of furniture?
It generally takes about six to eight weeks to make a piece of furniture, but this can sometimes be quicker depending on how busy we are and if it’s needed urgently. When we’re working on new designs we liaise closely with a local engineering firm to discuss options for the steel framework. The timber is then selected from our store and joined and finished to enhance and celebrate the character of the wood.
Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?
Antique furniture and old country furniture at auctions and fairs can be great sources of inspiration and a starting point for designs. Elsewhere, it’s everything from furniture books, Scandinavian design and blogs, to Instagram and Pinterest. Ultimately, it’s about furniture, like our dining tables, that look like the kind of place you’d like to gather with family and friends, kick back and spend some time together.
What’s your creative space like? Tell us a bit about your studio.
It’s a former pig unit (oh, the glamour) that’s been converted into a workshop, not far from the Suffolk coast. When I’m there it’s about selecting wood for orders, sawing to length, joining, sanding, more sanding (even more sanding) and finishing. That’s the practical side of it. But it’s also wearing every one of the diverse hats that larger business have separate departments to undertake: from designing and making products, dealing with any suppliers, keeping an eye on the accounts, arranging shipping with couriers and rolling up your sleeves to do some packaging. Then there’s the marketing side of things, ranging from designing and building an e-commerce website, to finding time for some Instagram updates and tweets amongst it all. Every day can be a blur, but there’s nothing like being your own boss!