Alice Blogg to Talk at Artichoke Conference

At Artichoke, our long term vision is that English design, craftsmanship and architectural joinery will still be flourishing in 100 years. It is partly our responsibility, as a guardian of our craft, to do everything we can to ensure that designers and makers across Britain will still be in relative abundance in many years and still creating magnificent interior and hand-crafted architectural joinery that will be admired by their future generations. To realise our vision, it is vital we support up and coming makers today as they start their journeys, just as we were supported some 30 years ago.

We are therefore delighted to announce that Alice Blogg will be speaking at the first Artichoke New Designers and Makers Conference which is being held in Cheddar on February 25th, 2022.

alice blogg in her workshop
Alice Blogg in her Dorset Workshop

Alice is a Designer Maker based in Dorset. She began her journey by studying 3D design before coming into woodwork via an apprenticeship with a local joiner. She is widely respected as one of the UK’s foremost female designers in wood. With her father being a carpenter joiner, her grandfather a boat builder and her great grandfather a shoe-last maker, she is well placed to be at the forefront of the new generation of British furniture designer makers and architectural joiners, and her work has been featured in Elle Decoration, Modern Rustic, and Homes and Antiques.

Alice has also collaborated with Benchmark Furniture, Hole and Corner, the British Council and Heritage Lottery Fund and her team have worked on many exciting projects, covering whole room interiors through to restaurants and commercial product ranges. To top that, Alice is also creative director of the joinery company Arttus.

designer maker alice blogg

 

We are hugely grateful to Alice for giving up her time to talk at our conference, particularly as she is also the mother of two very young children. Alice will be giving us all an insight into her journey so far with a focus on some of the lessons she has learned along the way.

The conference is free to attend, and if you are a student or new designer maker and would like to register for a place, please see the link below:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/artichoke-new-designers-and-makers-conference-2022-registration-163075355779

Artichoke Talks at Traditional Architecture Group

UPDATE:  The captured Zoom lecture given by Andrew and Bob can be seen below:

 

Andrew Petherick of Artichoke and Bob Sykes of Sykes Timber will be giving a talk to the Traditional Architecture Group (TAG) on 26th August on English Country House Timbers.   The talk will cover correct specification, treatment, environment, uses, availability, and alternatives to those now scarce.

The Traditional Architecture Group forms part of the Royal Institute of British Architects and was founded in 2003 in response to the growing number of architectural practices and architects in Britain that are now building traditional buildings.  Artichoke are proud members of TAG.

library traditional joinery
European walnut panelling by Artichoke. European walnut stock in Europe was decimated by the Great Frost of 1709, opening up the door to mahogany from the West Indies.

 

Anyone wishing to attend can visit the link below:  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-talk-about-english-country-house-timbers-tickets-163196580365?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

 

Artichoke Regatta 2021

The inaugural Artichoke Regatta was held last week.  Making the most of the local Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club, we squeezed into wetsuits and threw ourselves headlong into the unchartered waters of Cheddar Reservoir.

During the afternoon, we displayed quite brilliantly that we are not just great at making history, but also great at making fools out of ourselves.

Ben (Projects Director), Tim (MD), Emma (Project Co-ordinator) and Cat (Project Manager) made a strong start in the Single Giant Stand Up Paddleboard Challenge, where remaining standing became the true challenge.

 

James (Operations Director), doing a sterling job bulldozing his way through the final of the Single Stand Up Paddleboard final.

 

Production Manager Arthur remains well balanced on the giant stand up paddleboard, supported by Jason and Craig (Cabinet Makers)

 

Chief race organiser Nige (right) did an excellent job of keeping proceedings in order on the water.

 

Kelvin (Designer) receiving his trophy for foul play on the water from the Regatta chairman, Andrew.

 

No expenses were spared in the creation of the silverware. Kelvin shows off his award for Foul Play.  It is now locked away safely.

 

Despite his winning the foul play award, Kelvin failed to beat Tess at table tennis.

 

New recruit and Cabinet Maker, Jack (in black), the winner of the single kayak sprint.  There was little actual ‘sprinting’ to be fair, but Jack managed to sprint less badly than everyone else, making him a worthy champion.

 

Ava (Polisher), Rosie, Wilma and Cameron (Cabinet Makers) bask in the sun and the glory of brilliance on the water.

 

Cobbs of Cheddar produced a wonderful dinner for us all.

 

Evening sun.

We would like to thank Aaron Geis for sending us these images and letting us use them in this blog, and also for his hospitality as one of the members of the Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club.

I am sure we’ll be back next year!

 

All Party Parliamentary Group for Craft

We were delighted to have been invited to present our work with the Artichoke School of Furniture to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Craft on 17th June 2021.

Peter, one of the first graduates of the Artichoke School of Furniture

 

The Artichoke School of Furniture was set up by us to answer a need, both our need and students.  Our need is that we must meet our company mission which is to ensure English design and craftsmanship is still thriving in 100 years.  The students’ need is that provision for some of the more practical aspects of DT are lacking.  By running the school we can hopefully inspire and excite students towards the craft skills we are trying to keep alive.  It was an enormous priviledge to be able to show off our work on the school to the APPG.

All Party Parliamentary Groups are informal cross party groups run by members of the House of Commons and House of Lords.  The Chair of the APPG for Craft is Sir John Hayes MP, and Vice-Chairs are Sharon Hodgson MP, the Earl of Clancarty, Lord Cormack, and Baroness Garden, all supported by Patricia Lovett and Daniel Carpenter of the Heritage Crafts Association (HCA)

It is immensely encouraging that the topic of crafts and the challenges faced by many crafts based businesses are being listened to by members of parliament.  While our craft, furniture design and making, is not on the HCA’s red list of endangered crafts, it is at potential risk, with far fewer GCSEs being taken in Design and Technology (DT) in the first 20 years of this century.

When we create rooms to last forever, we usually don’t do it entirely on our own.  We often employ third party craftspeople such as tile makers, glass engravers, leather workers, carvers and the like, so it is also within our interests to support other crafts as well as our own.

We were particularly encouraged to learn the government is in the process of rolling out T Levels, which are alternatives to A Levels and focus more on vocational activities such as Craft and Design (due for launch in 2023).

 


If you’d like to discuss the work we are doing with the Artichoke School of Furniture, please email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call 01934 734270

 

 

Somerset Stories Interview with Bruce Hodgson

Bruce Hodgson, Artichoke’s founder and creative director, was recently interviewed by Somerset Stories, a podcast which explores the lives of the people that live, work, and create in Somerset.

If you’re interested in our story and how we started from humble beginnings on a borrowed workshop bench to evolve into one of the leading architectural joinery designers and makers in the UK, have a listen.

Episode Synopsis
In the latest episode of Somerset Stories, we meet one of the country’s foremost architectural joiners, the founder and creative director of Artichoke– Bruce Hodgson. Based in Cheddar, Bruce has – over the last 30 years – designed and created interiors for some of the world’s finest and most historical homes. With an ethos that combines technical craftsmanship, historical preservation, and stunning design, Bruce’s vision has created a business that has placed it’s stamp in properties from Jacobean manor houses, to villas in Tuscany.

 

 

The interview was conducted by Lewis Webb, who has conducted many other interviews with some of Somerset’s most creative and dynamic teams.  Other interviews can be heard at Somerset Stories.

 


If you’d like to discuss our approach to architectural joinery and our passion for how brilliantly designed furniture can immesuarbly improve your experience of living in a period house, please email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call 01934 734270

English Joinery – the lost art explored in Country Life

Shining a light on the lost art of English joinery in a recent article in Country Life magazine, Interiors Editor, Giles Kime invites our founder, Bruce Hodgson, to explain how door casements, shutters, panelling, skirtings, architraves, cornicing and dados can transform a space.

 

If you’ve been inspired to know more about the transformative impact of authentic joinery led interiors, please do get in touch and tell us about your project or read more about our services. To view the article in Country Life Magazine Interiors section, click here

Finding the Why Behind Artichoke

When we’re all asked what we do, the answer usually trips off our tongue.  But when asked why we do what we do, we’re often lost for words.

Discovering why a company does what it does is usually hard.  In Artichoke’s case it has taken several years to find our ‘why’.  In retrospect it had always manifested itself subconsciously in our daily behaviours, but we’d never attempted to proactively find it or explain it.  It took six months of corporate therapy, a company-wide meeting, three arguments and several packs of Post It notes to look deep within Artichoke’s soul.

A board with post it notes on
The process of finding our why

 

More marketing literate companies are often founded on their ‘why’.  Starbucks sells coffee. This is ‘what’ it does.  However, the reason it was really founded was to offer a ‘third space’ between work and home. The provision of a welcoming and comfortable high street location for people to meet or email from is why it does what it does, and that’s what’s made it a success.  The coffee and cake is simply a by-product.

Other companies are founded to solve a problem, only to stumble on their ‘why’ later on in life.  In 1901, William S Harley designed a compact motor designed to power a push bike, and if you ask the Marketing Director at Harley Davidson today ‘what’ they do, he’ll tell you they design and sell motorbikes.  If you ask him ‘why’ Harley does it however, he’ll tell you they exist to give middle aged accountants the power to ride through small towns scaring people.  This is what makes their company different.  If you’re a middle aged biker, and you want to revive some of the lost front you once had in your youth, there is really only one motorbike for you.

man on a harley davidson riding through London
During the week he works for Ernst & Young

 

In much the same way, Artichoke designs and makes kitchens and fitted furniture.  This is ‘what’ we do.  While there are lots of companies describing themselves as doing this very same thing, none of them do it for the reasons we do.

To help crystalise our ‘why’, we first decided to create a brand manifesto, a living document distilling our company’s beliefs.

Artichoke’s Brand Manifesto

We are craftspeople.
We will only work with other companies and clients who share our values.
We are unrelenting in the pursuit of quality.
We regard working in our client’s houses as a privilege.
We will always act with honesty and integrity.
We believe what we design enhances people’s lives.
We have a responsibility to ‘get it right’ for our clients.
We are always learning.
We are obsessed with detail.
We refuse to take short cuts.
We will always nurture traditional skills and embrace innovation.
Our ambition is to be a centre of excellence of design and craftsmanship.
We are guardians of our craft.
We will pass this expertise to future generations.
Our work is an expression of who we are.
We believe true quality cannot be achieved without love.
We love what we do.

Distilling our beliefs in this way was incredibly helpful, triggering one of the teams observations that our beliefs were closely aligned with those of John Ruskin, the Victorian philanthropist and supporter of the arts:

“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labour and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our fathers did for us.”

At Artichoke, we have the innate desire to ensure our work is not temporary, but instead forms an intrinsic part of a building’s architectural heritage for centuries to come.  This belief runs through our company like words through a stick of rock, and it affects the way everyone in the company behaves, the materials we specify, the joints we deploy, the designs we create and the care we take.

So, why does Artichoke exist?  The reason we are here is to create Britain’s future heritage.  We are here to make history.

Artichoke Making History Logo

 

Artichoke in Country Life Top 100

As the Country Life top 100 2020 is announced, we are delighted to once again be included for the third consecutive year.  This represents the ultimate recognition of our expertise in working on fine English houses and an acknowledgement of our mission to create Britain’s future heritage.⁠

We are so delighted to be recognized once again for the quality of our work – achieving a fine balance between meeting the needs and tastes of owners and fulfilling the potential of a house without harming its architectural integrity. Over nearly 30 years, we’ve worked in houses of every architectural period and have built a detailed understanding of each. Artichoke interiors, which are joinery-led, fulfill the unique promise of architectural joinery, which is not just to embellish rooms, but to give them their status and their role in the life of a household.  Architectural joinery achieves something no other trade can in creating liveable, elegant and architecturally authentic houses. This puts us in a unique position, filling the gap between architects and interior designers, creating the interior structure that makes sense of a house – and providing designers with the canvas they need.

Artichoke looks backwards to take our clients’ houses forward, recoupling exceptional artisan skills to design expertise. We are makers and creatives working as one to achieve the remarkable for our clients and their houses.

We have been lucky to work very closely with Country Life magazine in recent years and to be part of this list, standing  shoulder to shoulder with some of the most incredible companies of designers and artisans in the country makes us very proud

The full Country Life Top 100 2020 list can be reviewed here

Country Life magazine title front cover 4 March 2020

To see some of the stunning work we have completed please click here.

We’d love to hear more if you have a project in mind.   Whether its a single room – maybe a kitchen or a dressing room, or a whole house project, please do get in touch – speak with a member of our team on +44(0)1934 745 270 or email us at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk . 

 

Symm Administration – a Blow to Traditional Craftsmanship?

The recent news that renowned construction business Symm & Company has fallen into administration after over 200 years in business is a stark reminder that traditional skills need protecting and nurturing.

Both Symm, Artichoke and many others have been committed to employing and training generations of craftsmen and women, and investing in these skills further through formal apprenticeship schemes. While smaller, independent construction companies have often struggled to afford to run valuable apprenticeships, larger traditional builders like Symm took on this responsibility with great enthusiasm.  The onus is now more on companies like ours to train the period joinery specialists of the future and to keep driving this investment to ensure the traditional joinery industry stays healthy and thrives.

As part of this commitment, we are delighted our free School of Furniture’s second year is about to begin.

The principle aim of our school is simple – to inspire young people who, through their experience of a narrowing and academically focused curriculum, may not have had the opportunity to explore their creative and practical potential.  Our ambition is to highlight to these youngsters that there are a wide range of artisan skills and crafts which are highly valued and appreciated and from which a successful career can be carved.  Kai Holmes who teaches Design Technology at the Kings of Wessex Academy is keen to show the students that, only a short walk from the school gate,  is a thriving community of Britain’s best craftsmen and women who are making a living doing something they love and feel passionate about.

Symm administration calls for better training
Artichoke maker Wilma teaching student, Peter

 

Artichoke Founder Bruce Hodgson said: We are set to launch the second year of the Artichoke School of Furniture this year, with the aim of inspiring young people to consider a career as an artisan.  We also run an apprenticeship scheme, for which we recruit on the basis of attitude rather than skill. This investment means we are able to continue to strive to achieve our company vision, which is that in 100 years, English design and craftsmanship continues to flourish.”

He continued: “The Symm administration is a great sadness, not just because many fine craftsmen and women have lost their jobs, but because a company that was a well-regarded supporter of heritage craftsmanship no longer exists to sponsor some of the next generation of joiners, carpenters, cabinet makers, stonemasons, decorators and plastering specialists.”

Our resolve to support these specialist skills is further strengthened by the knowledge there is client demand for exquisite period joinery and the supporting finishing trades typically found in large town and country houses.  Artichoke hopes to continue inspiring the artisan workforce so that the industry may stay prosperous, and Britain’s future heritage is protected.  We encourage our fellow specialists to do the same.

 

Artichoke in Country Life Top 100

Country Life magazine has listed Artichoke among the best craftspeople in Britain as part of its annual Country Life Top 100 Country House specialists review.  This is the second year Artichoke has been listed.

We are in illustrious company.  Also included in this year’s list are ADAM Architecture, Craig Hamilton Architects and Joanna Wood Interior Design, plus many other professionals we have worked alongside with our clients over the last 25 years.

Country Life magazine is a magazine perfectly aligned with Artichoke’s focus on creating heritage through sympathetic joinery design.  The title has deep connections to Sir Edwin Lutyens, an architect we admire greatly having worked on several of his houses.  It also is one of the few magazines with a focus solely on English country house architecture, interiors and rural country pursuits.

The full Country Life Top 100 list can be reviewed here.

country life top 100

 

To see some of the stunning work we have completed please click here.

To discuss your project with Artichoke, email us at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk

 

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