Our March 2010 spotlight shines on furniture maker Gavin Robertson.
Gavin’s passion for making started at an early age. “I was always building things as a child, bikes with elongated forks, tree houses forty foot up and big enough to sleep in. It was not until my final year at secondary school that I showed an interest in furniture making, I had decided to make a Charles Rennie Mackintosh chair in my higher wood work class. It was this making process that attracted me to pursuing furniture making as a career.”
After studying a Fine Craft course at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University in High Wycombe, Gavin was taken on as a principal cabinetmaker by Martin Grierson, one of Britain’s leading designer makers
“This was a great opportunity for a young designer craftsman. The years spent working for Martin proved to be a pivotal point in my career; I was gaining a range of skills that was turning me into a master craftsman.”
After a spell with an Australian furniture manufacturer, Gavin wanted to set up a workshop to design and make bespoke items of furniture in the Highlands of Scotland. In 1993 he established Gavin Robertson Furniture in an old steading in the hills above Loch Ness. The last phase of development was in 2003, when the workshop moved into a 1500 square foot purpose built workshop that now employs two cabinetmakers.
“The woods I use may be dictated by the client, who will want a bespoke piece to complement their interior. I enjoy using Scottish oak, American walnut and cherry, Canadian Maple, and Scottish ash. At the moment I am experimenting with very minimal cabinets in pure white sycamore to the main carcase with the drawers being made from several highly figured dark woods.”
Gavin takes inspiration from The Arts and Crafts movement. “I thrive on making each piece - whether it is a table, chair, or even a complete kitchen - truly original by inlaying darker woods into the design or by exploring new forms and lines. ‘Within the Arts and Crafts movement the ethos was in the construction and detail - it should be good honest construction and detail should be seen,’ I endeavour to follow that, but with a slightly more minimal turn on it. I like clean simple lines, but to also give it that attention to detail with inlay or, in the construction, perhaps tuning a constructional joint out so it can be seen. I think you have to remain true to your ideas, and for me that means sticking to a high quality product that is finished to the highest of standards.”
Gavin works with a range of clients: from interior designers and architects to individuals who desire bespoke pieces.
“I enjoy the interaction with people, and being able to solve an interior design problem for them. An exciting commission at the moment is for the actress Tilda Swinton, I have been asked to produce a book-room in Canadian Maple, which will also incorporate a window seat and fire place.”
Visit the Gavin Robertson furniture website.