Handmade or hand-selected, we're proud to support exquisite craftsmanship and specialist skills. Join us as we sit down with artisans, curators and designers in our Meet The Designer series.
A true family business, Jon, and Martin began their journey by restoring vintage industrial furniture such as school lockers, filing cabinets, and tanker desks. Today, focusing on the creation of handmade industrial style furniture they have firmly established themselves, and their business - Steel Vintage, as innovative leaders in their industry. We visit their Bristol workshop to find out more.
What first inspired you to begin furniture restoration?
It all started back in 2009 when my brother and I discovered a mutual passion for vintage industrial steel items. We enjoyed finding old pieces that were engineered to last a lifetime but were also in need of some love. By removing the old layers of paint and rust we were able to expose the fine details hidden away. Welds, grind marks and the general patina of the steel were revealed.
By polishing and clear coating these beautiful pieces of early 20th-century industrial design, they could once again be admired but this time by a new type of owner. Our work started to generate interest and we sold more and more restored furniture to homeowners and creative businesses alike.
Can you tell us about some of your original work? How has it changed to what you produce now? What do you specialise in?
During the first few years, we repurposed hundreds of items from pedestal desks to school lockers and even restored a 1970s gynecology table. As demand for industrial steel furniture increased, we needed items that traditionally would not have been used in most industrial settings. Items such as TV units and coffee tables had no place in a typical workshop and although we knew these would be popular with our customers, finding a steady supply of items that could be reused for this purpose proved difficult. Both Martin and I originally came from design backgrounds so realised we could use our knowledge and experience to start designing our own products.
Since 2012 we have grown in size to a skilled team of 10 allowing us to design and manufacture from our 5000 sq ft workshop in Bristol. With our unique designs, traditional handmade manufacturing processes and industrial grade materials, we have been able to create items such as office desks, sideboards, filing cabinets, seating, and tables.
“By removing the old layers of paint and rust we were able to expose the fine details hidden away...”
What pieces continue to prove popular with your customers?
We have become specialist in our field and often work with well-known brands and celebrities on both commercial and domestic projects. Our extensive range of unique office desks and tables are always popular.
How would you best describe your aesthetic?
Unlike mass-produced furniture or poorly made “budget” items, Steel Vintage offers something different. Each piece we create is carefully designed and produced based on our understanding of authentic industrial furniture.
We prefer to over-engineer rather than cut back on materials. We aim for a luxury finish that is both refined and industrially styled. Our aim is to produce heirloom quality products that will last generations.
Why do you think the industrial style is still so popular with your customers?
Our repeat customers are testament to both the quality of our products and our service. Our designs are not only visually appealing but highly functional which makes them perfect for the contemporary home or commercial space.
What’s next for Steel Vintage? Is there anything we should know about?
Since the start, we have always enjoyed designing and creating new furniture. We have many products in the pipeline with a new kitchen range out soon and a garden furniture range planned for spring 2018. Many of our new designs come from bespoke commissions which is something that always gets us excited. It’s great to take a clients idea from a simple concept through to a finished product.