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Nick Thwaites - Profile

My preparation for a career in furniture making was to qualify as a solicitor and spend 18 years with a City of London law firm. Opportunities for making were limited, but, based in Asian offices for several years, I began to design furniture for our house, having it made locally.

I became more interested in the cabinetmaking itself, and in particular in the English tradition of furniture made by individual designer-craftsmen. It was a revelation. Tolerances were finer, joints crisper, hand-planed surfaces somehow cleaner, than anything found in shops. And designs were more individual: the best pieces seemed to sing, and the craftsmanship of their makers was evident in details that were a world away from mainstream furniture.

This was what I wanted to do. Eventually, I left my comfortable life as a partner in the firm’s Bangkok office and moved my family to Devon, where I spent a year training with Chris Faulkner, near Dartington. I owe an enormous amount to Chris’s rigorous standards, imposed with robust good humour, and his immense authority as a designer, maker and teacher.

Devon was too good to leave, and we bought a house near Honiton with some useful outbuildings, including a cowshed in need of a new role. This is now a warm, well-lit workshop with views of the Blackdown hills and of my children climbing the apple trees in the garden.

Profile of Nick Thwaites, maker of fine furniture in Devon