Tell us about yourself and your creative background?
Until 2019 I had an 18 year career in financial services as a PR and marketing professional. The last years of that career focused on digital marketing, which was in its own way quite creative but ultimately it didn’t satisfy my growing appetite to design and make.
This desire led me to retrain at the Chippendale International School of Furniture just outside Edinburgh. During this time I set up Glencairn Furniture where I have been designing and making handmade bespoke furniture ever since.
Can you give us an insight into your practice and what you do?
I design and make handmade wooden furniture. Usually this is in response to specific commissions from clients, but I also design and occasionally make speculative pieces. Speculative furniture is usually for my website, an exhibition, retail store or – if I ever find the time – my own home.
Designs for client commissions range from a completely free brief or something quite specific. However, I avoid doing ‘copies’ as I like to put my own creative mark on any piece I make.
The commissioning process is a fluid and interactive process between me and the client. I begin with the client’s specific need – say, a desk for a study – and from there discuss dimensions, materials and budget. From this I create a design and produce photo-realistic computer renders.
Slight tweaks might be made, and once the client and I are both happy a deposit is paid and I can schedule the commission into my workflow. Currently I have a waiting list of around three months.
Once completed, I deliver the furniture to the client, ensure they are happy with the finished item and provide guidance on how to keep it looking great for years to come.
Do you have any exciting projects or events you’re proud of on the horizon?
I’m currently in the middle of making a side table which will form part of a new range of furniture – one I’m calling the Delta collection. The design elements are from a dining table I thought up in a moment of inspiration but making the side table is a sensible and cost-effective means of verifying the proof of concept.
Each piece from the collection with consist of ebonised ash legs and frame, and American black walnut top and apron. The design is characterised by subtle angles, pleasing proportions and striking contrasts in finish.
I’m excited to see how the side table will look in real life.
What makes Edinburgh a good base for creatives?
Edinburgh strikes a nice balance between size and cultural importance. As a capital city, it boasts terrific architecture, an exciting art scene – both traditional and modern – and of course the world’s largest arts festival. But its relatively small size means there is a real community feel for creatives, whether that’s in cutting-edge gaming or traditional crafts.
What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing a career in the creative industries?
Make sure you have a real passion for what you want to do. If it’s just a fleeting fad it won’t be enough to sustain you in a career. I fall asleep at night thinking about furniture, and I wait up thinking about furniture!
Unfortunately, in the UK the creative industry can be poorly paid, but if you are passionate about what you do then you have a better chance of making a living from it.
I moved from a career where I wanted to make enough money to stop what I was doing to a career where I want to make enough money to keep doing what I’m doing. And I’ve never regretted it for a moment.
If you have real passion for that you want to do you will be successful.
What made you want to join Creative Edinburgh as a member?
I really like what Creative Edinburgh stands for and what it does for its members. Support, advice, mentoring and keeping members up to date with what’s going on in Edinburgh, are just some of the things is does really well.
Starting your own business or trying to forge a creative career can be really challenging. Just knowing Creative Edinburgh is there to offer support, advice and encouragement is a huge help.
To check out more of Richard's work, visit his website here.