A BESPOKE furniture manufacturer is bringing the Far East to the North East after being inspired by Japanese craftsmen.
Hartlepool entrepreneur Edward Walton completed a two-year course in furniture making at the Building Crafts College in Stratford, and then spent nine weeks studying in Japan working closely with respected Shokunin craftsman Masaki Kondo.
Edward, 30, said: “I have always had an interest in Japanese architecture, ancient and modern, particularly since the Kobe earthquake where everything had to be rebuilt.
“The craftsmen over there spend so much time and detail on their work, and that is something that really made an impression on me.”
Edward Walton Fine Furniture was set up earlier this year, and is already building up a strong reputation within a specialist market.
He added: “Every piece I design and build is unique. We are creating family heirlooms.”
He said it was “all about building up a relationship, giving the customer their input and also letting them see how the furniture is made, how we choose which wood we use, where it has come from”.
“Every piece has a story behind it and the more the owner knows what has gone into their piece, the more interesting that piece becomes.”
Once a customer places their order, Edward makes sure they are kept updated on how their piece is progressing from the earliest stages.
“I use a timbermill in North Yorkshire close to where I went to school and the guy there has a real passion for wood and where it is sourced,” added Edward, a former Yarm School student.
Edward initially had ambitions to make a name for himself in music. He said: “I’ve been playing violin since the age of six, my brother and sister are also musical and played the violin and flute and all three of us played the piano.”
He studied for a degree at the Royal College of Music but “after three out of four years I decided it wasn’t for me”.
“I spent a year working at the Imperial College bar while I decided on my future. I loved music but the thought of doing it as a job started to kill it for me.
“I ended up going to the Building Crafts College in Stratford, East London, and I’ve never looked back.”