Interview with Stephen Richards, furniture maker & sculptor
Using traditional craft techniques within contemporary contexts, Stephen Richards works to individual commission to create innovative and challenging pieces of furniture.
Characterised by simple lines and purity of form, his designs are visually calming. Take a closer look, however, and the clean lines often reveal a structural complexity.
Did you undertake formal training in college or within the industry, or did you find your way into crafts via a different route?
I trained initially at Buckinghamshire College. This was followed by two years at Parnham College.
How would you describe your work and
your position within the crafts world?
What type of material do you prefer to use?I use predominantly European and North American hardwoods and try to avoid exotic timbers. I also enjoy incorporating other materials in my furniture, which I source from other specialists.
What would you most like to make that you haven't so far?
I would like to be commissioned to make furniture for a whole interior.
What would you describe as the most significant development in contemporary furniture-making within the last 5-10 years?
Materials and overheads have certainly increased drastically since I first starting making furniture eight years ago. Certain aspects of furniture-making (e.g. kitchens) have a high perceived value and so these are areas where a small-scale craftsman can compete by producing one-off, custom-made units.
Free standing furniture (e.g. tables and chairs), the area in which I most enjoy working, is a more difficult market. Although there is no comparison in quality between craft-made furniture and furniture for sale in shops, the price of foreign imports available through retailers is frighteningly low. To overcome these handicaps the craftsman needs to be flexible, innovative and produce items of the highest quality.