New Zealand’s Sublime Vineyard inspires furniture design talent Anthony Glynn
Anthony Glynn has just headed home to Bath from the Chippendale International School of Furniture near Edinburgh. He was highly commended for his work at one of Europe’s premier furniture design and restoration schools, and now plans to start up his own bespoke furniture business.
ANTHONY GLYNN, IN HIS OWN WORDS
I had a 20-year career in the IT industry, followed by an extended gap year that has lasted almost 10 years. During that time I’ve built up and sold a successful restaurant and pub business, travelled around the world, run a ski chalet in the French Alps and been a chef and butler at a stately home in the New Forest.
It was while doing voluntary work at the Sublime Vineyard in the inspirational setting of New Zealand’s Waitaki Valley that I that I got hooked by the bug for woodworking. I was helping to recycle old French oak barrels into rustic furniture. They had previously been used for pinot noir wine making. The feeling of satisfaction of making something useful from a beautiful material was the seed for an idea that when I returned to the U.K. I would learn to make furniture professionally. It was this decision that ultimately led me to the Chippendale School.
I found the Chippendale School by searching on the Internet. The syllabus looked very broad and the vast amount of hands-on bench time really appealed to me. By chance I was visiting Edinburgh with my wife as she was researching her ancestry, so I took time out to visit the school. I met Anselm and was so impressed by the standard and quality of the furniture making and the idyllic setting of the school, that I brought forward my plans to undertake a furniture-making course by a year and submitted my application to Chippendale immediately.
Having now completed the course, the school has exceeded my expectations about how much I could learn. Looking back over the last nine months, you can see that we’ve crammed a lot in.
For me, the highlights have been the many ancillary crafts and skills you learn at the furniture school: carving, gilding, marquetry, boulle work, glass skills, carving, and learning about veneering with Scott Grove, one of the visiting experts.
Of course, the resident tutors have also been a vitally important factor in the learning experience for me personally. They’re extremely knowledgeable and phenomenally patient – being slightly forgetful, I must have asked Graham the same question 50 times! The student-to-pupil ratio was very good, and you soon get to know which tutor is best to go to for help in particular areas.
From a standing start, in just nine months I’ve gained the confidence to know that I can make furniture on a successful commercial basis; the Chippendale course not only taught me how to make furniture, but just as importantly, how to go about setting up a commercially viable business model.
I’m particularly proud of my final term project piece; a retro Danish-style cabinet made in sweet chestnut with a striking rosewood veneered front, and fumed sweet chestnut detailing. I inlaid veneer stripes into the rectilinear legs and, together with the fumed sweet chestnut stripes in the cabinet, I’m thinking of developing this as my signature style. I plan to translate this signature into various other forms, including tables, desks, dressing tables and bedside cabinets.
I was delighted to sell the cabinet at the end-of-course exhibition, along with my Louboutin-inspired stiletto table. I sold the stiletto table to a local art collector, and it was wonderful to see it on display in her home. You get a real confidence boost when someone buys a piece of your furniture!
Now back in the “real world,” I don’t want to lose the momentum; I’m looking to rent workshop space and setup my own business in the Bath area. The money that I made from selling my pieces of furniture at the end of course exhibition is a great kick start for my new business; it will cover the rent for a year, and allow me to invest in some of the equipment that I need to make furniture again.
As a footnote, at some point in the future I would love to return to the Sublime Vineyard in New Zealand and make a special piece of furniture for the vineyard owners Steve and Fenella, as a thank you for being the inspiration for what I know is going to be an incredibly satisfying second career for me.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Anthony James Glynn Bespoke Furniture (www.ajgbespoke.com) is taking on bespoke commissions for clients in the Bath area for new furniture and restoration projects.
For more info about the Chippendale International School of Furniture, visit http://www.chippendaleschool.com/