A bespoke furniture manufacturer is bringing the Far East to the North East after being inspired by Japanese craftsmen.
Edward Walton successfully completed a two-year course in furniture making at the Building Crafts College in Stratford, and then spent nine weeks studying in Japan working closely with respected Shokunin craftsman Masaki Kondo.
The 30-year-old said: “I have always had an interest in Japanese architecture, ancient and modern, particularly since the Kobe earthquake where everything had to be rebuilt.
“The craftsmen over there spend so much time and detail on their work, and that is something that really made an impression on me.”
Edward Walton Fine Furniture was set up earlier this year, and is already building up a strong reputation within a specialist market.
He added: “Some people want a piece of furniture that no-one else has, that is unique to them.
“A piece with a story to it. They want to know how it has been made, where the wood has come from, the techniques used to get specific effects.
“Every piece I design and build is unique. We are creating family heirlooms.
“You can go to a High Street chain and get a piece of furniture that will last about five or ten years. But what a master craftsman creates should outlive you. Something that can be passed through the generations.
“I suppose it is the antiques of the future. Pieces that will have stories to tell from their making through to different generations of families and homes they have lived in.
“Some people come in with a sketch of some early ideas, some come in and say they want a table or bookcase or chair and that’s as much as they know.
“I tend to go out to their homes to get a feel for their tastes and ideas and also invite them to the workshop so they can get to understand the process.
“It is all about building up a relationship, giving the customer their input and also letting them see how the furniture is made, how we choose which wood we use, where it has come from.”
Once a customer places their order, Edward makes sure they are kept updated on how their piece is progressing from the earliest stages.
“I use a timbermill in North Yorkshire close to where I went to school and the guy there has a real passion for wood and where it is sourced,” added Edward, a former Yarm School student.
“He knows his trees and he wants to see any that are felled put to the best use.
“If I’m looking for some beautiful English walnut or something in particular then I have a chat with him.”