From a young age I have been interested in working with my hands. At the age of eleven I made and entered a love spoon (a Welsh tradition) into the craft section of the National Eisteddfod (festival of Welsh literature, music and performance) in my home town of Cardigan in 1976. It was celebrating 800 years since its inauguration in 1176 – which was held in Cardigan castle.

My first job was at Frenni Creations, a family-run business near the Preseli mountains in Wales making reproduction furniture. Having worked there for a year, I went to Shrewsbury College of Art and Technology to embark on a two-year furniture design and making course. On completion of my training I worked for two of the country’s leading furniture designer-makers. First Rupert Williamson for seven years, where I gained a wealth of knowledge, thereafter at John Makepeace’s workshop in Dorset working alongside some of the country’s finest furniture makers.

Bespoke furniture making – the 1990’s onwards

I have been making furniture during this period from a workshop based in Buckinghamshire. My regular commissions come from furniture designers, commercial and private clients. The work ranges from one-twelfth scale to full scale dining table and chairs encompassing traditional and modern making techniques. Solid wood is used mainly, and veneered composite board.

A lot of the commissions I get are technically very challenging, which is what gives me the most satisfaction. This can involve making a number of templates and intricate jigs to aid the making process of each component, which is not evident in the completed piece. When I have been working on a particularly interesting piece of furniture, I often think and relate to the quote written by the painter Lucien Freud:

“The promise of happiness is felt in the act of creation but disappears towards the completion of the work.

For it is then that the painter realises that it is only a picture he is painting.

Until then he had almost dared to hope that the picture might spring to life.”

Lucien Freud
Berwyn Phillips Bespoke Furniture Designer and creator
Working on a piece to be exhibited at an international event. Designed by Silverlining Furniture.
A love spoon I made in 1976, aged eleven. Made out of one piece of Parana pine.
A love spoon I made in 1976, aged eleven. Made out of one piece of Parana pine.

Interested in commissioning a piece of furniture?