Artichoke Announces Second Year of its Furniture School

We are pleased to announce the second year of the Artichoke School of Furniture, an initiative we started in 2019 as a series of free evening courses for local school children.

The school’s aim is to introduce 16 and 17 year olds to woodworking.  It’s grass roots aim is to inspire students and turn their lights on to craft as a future career.

For those we do inspire, we can help guide them with their next steps, whether it be working as an apprentice in our own workshops or by helping students apply for a scholarship through initiatives such as the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust

Wilma one of the school's course tutors
Artichoke maker Wilma heads up the Artichoke School of Furniture.

 

It takes a great deal of skill and knowledge to create interiors which will be admired in hundreds of years.  The reason antiques exist today is because they were made properly many years ago, by skilled craftsmen and women who took care.  They took the same care then as the Artichoke team do today, which is why our work for our clients will last centuries. 

The foundation of the Artichoke School of Furniture goes a small way to help us build on these principles and to deliver our company vision, which is that in 100 years, English design and craftsmanship continues to flourish; creating interiors celebrated by future generations.

Rosie is the second of the school’s tutors and is supported by new maker, Ed (seen on the right below)

 

Our belief that we are creating Britain’s future heritage is not for everyone, and it will only suit clients with a certain mindset, budget and house.  But for those who view passing their home down to the next generation in a better state that it was found in as being one of life’s greatest achievements, we should talk.  It’s quite possible that one of Artichoke’s School of Furniture graduates may well have a hand in the work.

The 2021 course begins on 6th October and runs for 6 weeks.

 


The model for the Artichoke School of Furniture was developed by us to be simple so it can be rolled out by other makers also wishing to inspire young people in their local communities.  If you are a cabinet maker or craftsperson, and you’re interested in rolling out our model into your own community, please contact us at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call Andrew on +44 (0)1934 745270.

You can see our Artichoke School of Furniture Graduates 2019 here.

 

Artichoke Talks at Traditional Architecture Group

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

 

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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!

 

Artichoke Announces Annual Designer Makers Conference

Artichoke has announced it is running an annual conference aimed at supporting new designers and cabinet makers with the business side of their new ventures.

The Artichoke New Designers and Makers Conference 2022 will be held near our design studios and workshops in Somerset, on Friday 25th February 2022.  The conference will be free to attend and is aimed at furniture students undertaking their final year of studies and new makers who have recently started a business.

The conference will feature talks covering topics such as how to charge correctly for your time, where to find clients and how to create a brand which customers can believe in.  There will also be talks by new and successful makers who will share the secrets of their success.

“Our company vision is that in 100 years, British design and craftsmanship is still thriving”’ said Bruce Hodgson, Artichoke’s founder. “To achieve this, we must ensure there is new blood joining the industry and that they are successful in their endeavours.  In 2019 we established the Artichoke School of Furniture, a series of free annual courses for local teenagers to give them a taste of craftsmanship and a flavour for workshop life.  We are now focusing on supporting those about to embark on their careers.  Along the way we have made lots of excellent decisions, but we have also made mistakes; mistakes that we would now like to help those starting out in the industry learn from”. 

Final year students and new makers can register for a place at https://artichokenewmakers.eventbrite.co.uk 

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About Artichoke
Artichoke was founded in 1992. From simple beginnings on a borrowed workshop bench, it is now a team of 50 with private clients all over the world. The company’s focus is to create architectural joinery led rooms which will form part of a building’s architectural heritage for centuries. 

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

Training the Next Generation of Designers and Makers

Artichoke’s interest in training young people in the joinery craft skills required to add value to a building’s architectural heritage is partly fuelled by the reduction in government funded education in this area.

On a macro level, the number of UK students studying at key stage 4 is in long term decline, and it has been for a generation.  In the first 20 years of this century, the number of Design and Technology GCSEs taken by 16 year old students dropped by two thirds, from 420,000 pupils to 150,000.  On a micro level, the secondary school local to our design studios and workshops in Cheddar has closed its teaching workshop.  Clearly this is not sustainable and it will seriously affect our collected abilities as a country to design and make the high quality joinery our heritage buildings deserve.

We have previously written at some length about the Artichoke School of Furniture, a series of free introductory classes aimed at whetting the appetite of eager and curious 16-17 year olds.  Sadly Covid-19 put a stop to the 2020 course, but it will continue in 2021.  Now, appetites whetted, some past students of our course are looking into the next steps of their craft based career path. This article is partly for them and partly for anyone else interested.

 

The Building Crafts College
The Building Crafts College was founded 125 years ago by the Worshipful Company of Carpenters.  Artichoke’s founder and creative director Bruce Hodgson is a governor of the college which aims to train young people in a wide range of construction crafts, such as joinery, stone masonry, conservation and construction.  The college’s main focus is to give students the skills needed to produce work of a high standard and help them into suitable employment from there on in.

Bench joinery courses at The Building Crafts College.

 

Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust
Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust financially supports students through their craft based education.  Sometimes they might fund a course (fully or partly) by way of a scholarship; other times they might provide funding towards an apprenticeship.  QEST’s remit covers a huge variety of craft skills from from furniture making to cob building and decorative plaster work.  The choice is endless.

QUEST fund students in courses or apprenticeships in craft skills such as decorative plaster work.

 

The Creative Dimension Trust 
The Creative Dimension Trust (TCDT) offers fully funded workshops and work experience placements to young people who show potential in forging a career pathway where precise hand-eye co-ordination, and the ability to understand and construct 3-dimensional shapes are prerequisite. They offer a wide range of funded workshops from gilding to sign writing on skateboards and architectural model making.  Workshops take place on location, often at a companies workshops over a 2 or three day period and they are an excellent introduction to a particular craft based industry.

This workshop gave students an opportunity to gain a working knowledge of the ancient craft of gilding.

 

The Furniture Makers Company
The Furniture Makers Company is a city of London Livery company and charity aimed specifically at supporting the Furniture Industry.  They provide scholarships and bursaries to students at colleges and universities that teach furnishing related courses.   They also offer seminars and facilitate tours of workshops and industry experience.

The Furniture Makers helps fund students through their apprenticeships.

 

Williams & Cleal
There are a number of private furniture courses across the British Isles, but Williams & Cleal is local to us and a number of our staff have left there to join us.  Some may shy away from the word ‘private’ but before you do, consider that British universities cost £9,000 per term and that’s before you’ve paid the rent and purchased your first cider.  In the long run, a 40 week course at Williams & Cleal is likely to be more cost effective than 3 years at University, and the skills they teach in cabinet making are outstanding.

Students at Williams & Cleal learn high level furniture making skills quickly on their 40 week course.

 

Sylva Wood School

The Sylva Wood School is part if the Sylva Foundation and is a relatively new initiative with excellent grass roots aims and a very broad spectrum in all facets of woodcraft, education and sustainability .  Their mission is to educate the next generation of makers and support them in creating opportunities for young people in working with wood and its value as a sustainable resource.  They are also unusual in that they work with young people of school age.  The head of the wood school is Joseph Bray who spent 13 years delivering the furniture degree programmes at Rycotewood.

 

We will add to this list every now and then, but it would be well worth a conversation with each of the above organisations to get a feel for the options available to you.  Do call Andrew at Artichoke on 01934 745270 if you would like to discuss this further.

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.

A logo for artichoke designers and makers of britain's future heritage

 

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 . 

 

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