In line with the trend towards more ecofriendly consumption, conscious buyers are increasingly seeking out brands that carefully create bespoke products that offer longevity and employ the skills of local artisans. This benefits both the community and the planet, and is one of the initiatives which has inspired our new Made in England (MiE) project.
The limited-edition R5 High Fidelity Music System is the first model in our MiE collection. Together with Terry Croucher from Storm Furniture – one of the country’s most talented craftspeople – we have created a design that is modern yet sophisticated, offering a distinct finish to match this tabletop system’s gorgeous new slatted wooden grille.
Terry’s keen eye for woodwork was established at a young age, influenced by his craftsman father. While he started out in mechanical engineering, he soon aspired to do something more creative and decided to enroll at furniture college. Following his degree, and 10 years at a joinery firm, he set out to establish his own workshop, with a focus on traditional woodwork practice. The combination of his technical proficiency from mechanical engineering, and his manual experience at the joinery meant his business quickly grew from fitting units out of a van, to acquiring his own eco-friendly workshop in Suffolk, England.
When discussing his favourite field of woodwork, it’s clear Terry’s passion spills into all areas of the craft: “I like veneers as I can create something more unique. I use all sorts of materials, I work with a lot with solid timbers, l do laser cuttings, I use brass, bronze, patinas. I don’t really say no to anything - I’m always experimenting to find something new.”
Speaking more specifically about his time working on the MiE project, Terry explained the intricate process of creating a bespoke Ruark finish: “There was a lot of trial and error around the prototype stage. Creating the right jig, the veneer, the closed-grain finish… it required a lot of time and care. Once the prototype was complete, I could begin creating the first batch, which alone took a good couple of months. This project is 100% focused on perfection, so Alan [O’ Rourke] and I were constantly seeking out solutions to make it just right”.
Modern mass production methods mean that most of the products we purchase these days are usually of good quality and value for money, but nevertheless, mass production means that each element of the product must be made or assembled according to a schedule, so the time allowed to perfect is often limited. On the other end of the spectrum, we give time, care and attention to every single step in the creation process. Terry agreed, saying “With what we do, there are no corners to cut. We’re always thinking, ‘what extra touches can we make so that this even better?’ It’s those little details that really make a product”.
Being a British brand, it was important for us to collaborate with local designers and use one-of-a-kind processes that are unique to the smaller, artisan market. Terry suggests “People are often wary of spending the extra money that comes with shopping local, and it’s often true that mass-market retailers are cheaper. However, the quality and attention to detail that comes with local craft are second-to-none and in the long run, very few people ever regret paying extra for a product they will cherish and enjoy for years to come. As the old saying goes, quality is remembered, long after the price is forgotten”.
R5 MiE will be a limited edition with only 35 units available exclusively through John Lewis and will retail for £2,000.