People: British furniture makers – Alice Blogg

By Stefanie Gerdes
September 21, 2018

Alice Blogg’s workshop is set amongst the rolling West Dorset countryside. She started her furniture company in 2010, after developing her woodworking skills under employment in a joinery firm after studying in Manchester and London.

What do you think the current perception of British furniture is?
It’s always hard to know exactly what the perception of British furniture is when you are submerged within. The current perception is to help the next generation grow, with a dedication to supporting them and buying unique designed and crafted pieces.

What do you think the history books will say about furniture – making and consuming – in the 21st century?
Hopefully the new generation of emerging furniture makers can push the boundaries and make it a good one. There was a trough in the industry at the beginning. It’s looking brighter now, with many designer-makers using British timbers, investing and researching in resources and materials, using craft techniques along side new technology. I think it’s a period that people will want to talk about and put down in history.

How has the community of British furniture designer-makers influenced you?
The community of British furniture designer-makers has been a massive influence on me. In general a very open group of people always willing to share and pass on their knowledge and wise words. One encounter which highlights this was fours years ago, when I helped make on the ‘Wish List’ project. Sean Sutcliffe from Benchmark introduced me to a whole new community with many talented designer-makers, such as Sebastian Cox, Gareth Neal, Xenia Moseley, and many more. We are better together.

What are the challenges you face today?
Within any creative business, there are day-to-day challenges. As a small business it’s always a challenge to fit everything in and focus on all the aspects of the business. As I grow, I realise my time on the bench is becoming less, learning to focus more time on the design and running of the business, with other people helping me make. Having help and delegating is a really hard challenge, but very rewarding when you learn to achieve with more of you. Another challenge can be cash flow, especially when running large jobs, making sure you are always slipping small jobs in-between. Challenges are a good thing as it makes you address the business, making it better for the future.

Who is your main customer type and what do you sell the most of?
I design and make unique pieces of furniture for private clients, creating furniture for a specific place in a home. I also work for commercial businesses, creating one-off pieces of furniture or runs of batch-produced objects. In the pipeline, I have some really special work for private clients using customers’ trees, all the way from tree to piece; I’m currently waiting for the wood to dry.

Who are your biggest inspirations/influences?
My mother is top of the list. She has always encouraged and let me and my two brothers flourish in our own creative ways – a strong woman. Fergus, my partner, is a great help; he is a designer too, so we always have someone to bounce our ideas off. My life in Dorset feeds my desire to lead a life in a particular way, which shines through in the warmth and sustainable side of my business. My inspirations/influences are bountiful, from architecture, spaces, structures, furniture, to bridges and even hedgerows.

Do you have any relationships with established furniture designer-makers?
There is a wealth of established furniture designer-makers in Dorset, which I am very lucky to have on my doorstep, including John Makepeace. I would say I have a good relationship with a quite a few, not just my friends in Dorset, all of which are a constant influence and help along the way in my creative business.

Do you think it’s harder to start out as a furniture designer-maker compared to 30 years ago?
To start a business as a furniture designer and maker is hard, no matter when. There may have been more opportunities to work within the industry directly for industry, but there are still avenues and places to learn these days, and more becoming available. We have the added advantage of a direct link to customers through social media. If it is something one wants to do then dedication and hard work will always pay off.