A couple of weeks ago I had the fortunate opportunity to have a good look around the incredible showroom and workshops of Benchmark Furniture. The stunning premises of the firm are situated just outside of the beautiful Berkshire town of Kintbury; there were bluebells and snowdrops in the surrounding fields and grassland. What was even nicer, was that the tour was by my uncle Peter, who has worked there for many years as a craftsman, and he was explaining to me about various things such as the many types of wood that they use (for example I wasn’t aware that walnut often changes colour over time, something which people seem to love or hate), and also a bit about some of the machines that they use – from the super high-tec CNC router, to the charming overhead router pictured below. It was very late on a Friday afternoon, and so many of the workshops were a bit emptied out. The milling workshop was very quiet in particular (this is where the below routing machine and windmill glamper live!)
The showroom looked really spectacular – as you can see from the below pictures. There had been an exhibition the previous evening showcasing some local Art and craft products, which were of a very good quality. I was also rather taken with the beautiful Nick Munro silverware, and the small prototype models of Benchmark furniture, nicely shown off on some shelving in one of the rooms. The ethos behind Benchmark is a quite remarkable one. Owners Sean Sutcliffe and Terrence Conran are very strict on using sustainable woods, and have been championing British manufacture/ furniture-making long before the current British furniture making renaissance came about. Obviously on topics such as these there is still a way to go in the industry (something which I’m going to be talking to Sean about at a later date). The furniture made at Benchmark is of the highest quality and some of their current designs are my favourite ever – I especially love the Mrs Beeton table with yellow legs.
A final note to my Uncle Pete – I hope I got the names of those machines right, or else you are going to make fun of me forever over this!