interview :: furniture magpies

Katie | November 7, 2010

I first spied the Furniture Magpies at this year’s Tent and loved their quirky brand of ‘up-cycled’ furniture. With a manifesto like “We don’t believe in good furniture going to landfill when it can be redesigned into a piece that people can love all over again,” what’s not to love?

Furniture Magpies' "Hang on to your drawers"

The magpies were kind enough to answer a few questions for me…
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
That we love what we do!

What inspires you to create?

We are very fortunate to be based in High Wycombe; an area that was completely dominated by the furniture industry until the 1960s. We are surrounded by knowledge, history and amazing resources of discarded furniture. With all these beautifully constructed pieces made from top quantity timbers going to landfill, as a furniture fanatics, we just couldn’t stand by and do nothing! That’s why we redesign these items into furniture people can love all over again.

We know times have changed so we mix knowledge and appreciation with a bit of humour and personality to redesign our products to give them a new lease of life.

Furniture Magpies' Frame screen

What’s your background? How did you get to where you are today?

Our company is made up of three designers Nessa Doran O’Reilly, Sua Lee and Sivan Metzer; all designers, but with complementary skills which gives us a really well-rounded team. Nessa has a strong background in furniture making as well as design and had run her own business before. Sua has worked in design studios in London and her MA research looked at reusing as opposed to recycling which helped identify the foundations of the company’s philosophy. Sivan has a background in textile design but had also worked in furniture design and manufacturing. We meet while studying for our Masters in Furniture Design at BNU in High Wycombe and haven’t looked back since.

During our studies we had all struggled to justify bringing new products into an already saturated market while beautifully crafted pieces where being discarded. Setting up our own business to explore this seemed the logical next step.

What’s been your favourite project so far?

It’s hard to choose one to be honest, Maybe our lovely legs table lamp for its contrast between the new and old and the transformation it has gone through to become something lovely again and I suppose the Hang on to your drawers collection for the same reasons.

Furniture Magpies' Lovely Legs table lamp

What are you plans for the future?

We would love to make Furniture Magpies into a well-known brand and make people understand that up-cycling isn’t just the latest ‘buzz word’ but a recognised ethos to how furniture could be made. We want to make beautiful, fun and exciting furniture that is made in a considered way. Our motto is to make people love what they see and then appreciate how and why it is made in this way.

What does success mean to you?

Doing what we love every day and having others love our outcomes.

Further reading for the especially geeky:


Further Reading for the Especially Geeky ::

Founding Editor – Katie Treggiden

Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.

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