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Interview with Stephen Richards, Furniture Maker & Sculptor

Stephen Richards

Stephen Richards

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.


'Mind the gap II', Stephen Richards, 2002

'Mind the gap II', Stephen Richards, 2002

'Against the grain', Stephen Richards, 2002

'Against the grain', Stephen Richards, 2002



 


How would you describe your work and
your position within the crafts world?

'Storm Chair' Stephen Richards, 2000

'Storm Chair' Stephen Richards, 2000

Depending upon the client's brief, my work ranges from very sculptural to very functional. The bedrock of all my work is the quality of the making, complemented by innovative design. My aim is to produce pieces with a long life-cycle and thus low environmental impact.

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.

'3vp', Stephen Richards, 1999

'3vp', Stephen Richards, 1999

'Warren street', Stephen Richards, 2004

'Warren street', Stephen Richards, 2004



 

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.

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