A blog by David Lonsdale a former Chippendale International School of Furniture student who has set up a furniture business in the Chippendale Furniture Incubator.
What sort of work were you doing before becoming a student at the Chippendale International School of Furniture?
I previously worked in sheet metal fabrication for an aerospace company (Midland Aerospace). Working with metal I believe is a good flow through for then working with wood as you need the same attention to detail and very high tolerances especially with aerospace.
I then set up in business in 2004 as Lonsdale Home Improvements doing general DIY, decorating, basic joinery and carpentry. I’ve always enjoyed working with wood and creating something out of nothing!
What were the highlights of your 10 month furniture design course?
I enjoyed being able to work with wood other than pine and MDF! Other highlights were being able to experiment with my own designs and ideas, and having the opportunity to express myself through my designs.
It was interesting having a mix of nationalities and cultures at the School, and seeing how it influences their style and designs.
Which pieces of furniture did you create while you were at the Chippendale School of Furniture?
My first term ‘solid wood’ piece was an olive ash writing bureau with a concealed chair and some secret compartments. This was a more traditional piece which i originally made for myself but actually ended up selling at the School exhibition.
My second term ‘veneer’ piece was an i-pod shelving unit which we now just refer to as ‘the pods’. I wanted to make a modern piece with a funky vibe to it yet still be functional; it is all wired up as an i-pod docking station. You could call this modern art!
Please tell us about the business you have now set up: what are your objectives for the business?
Since finishing the course I have moved up to Scotland with my wife and children and have set up as LR Custom Furniture. I am gradually building a reputable business. I have attended plenty of craft fairs to market the business, products and bespoke furniture making service, and this has proved quite successful.
My aim is to build up the business with a solid reputation for unique, functional and beautiful furniture, kitchens and gifts.
Why did you choose to base yourself in one of the incubator units at the School?
Having not lived in Scotland before and, as I’d moved the family up, it seemed the most sensible option at the time. I wanted to have a solid base to build up my business but still have access to the School for advice and help if needed.
Could you please describe some of your recent commissions?
Previous commissions have been two oak bookcases. These were built to fit into difficult spaces that no ‘off the shelf’ product suited. Another commission was a modern occasional chair made from sycamore and upholstered by me. This was made for a very lucky lady as her Christmas present!
My most recent commission is a walnut chaise longue. It was made to my customer’s specification but I still managed to put a bit of my own design into it by suggesting storage compartments under the seats and putting it on castors to make it more versatile.