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Spotlight on the maker:
Ben Tcharny
Ben Tcharny

Using traditional and modern joinery techniques, furniture maker Ben Tcharny hand crafts beautiful seating and tables from sustainably sourced timber in his South London workshop.

An inspiration of Mid-Century Modern furniture as well as Scandinavian and Japanese design can be seen through Ben’s stunning pieces with their gorgeous clean lines and exquisite high quality and simplicity. It is this simplicity that makes his pieces timeless and suitable for both traditionally or contemporary styled spaces. Ben kindly spoke to AUTHOR about his work and inspiration.

Where did your passion for making come from?

My woodworking was inspired by my time at sea, sailing classic yachts, where I learned joinery and finishing techniques during the upkeep and refurbishment of these beautiful pieces of craft. I then went on to train as a shipwright in traditional boatbuilding techniques at the Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy. A lot of my furniture has influences from the design and build of classic boats.

After training, I went on to build beautiful modern classic wooden yachts for Spirit Yachts, here I learnt a lot of modern and traditional joinery techniques which has shaped my work into what it is today.

Were you always interested in creating things from childhood?

There were two interests in my childhood, woodwork/design and sailing. Both were done as often as possible. I even remember being given my first wood plane at the age of about 6. I didn’t really understand what it was for but I used to carry it around everywhere.

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How did you start your business? What led you into it?

I’ve always enjoyed designing as well as building and starting my own business has allowed me to be creative and a lot more artistic in my work at the same time as having the opportunity to build beautiful pieces of furniture.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your pieces?

Everywhere and it very much depends on the piece. I take a lot of inspiration from mid-century modern furniture and Japanese design especially pieces by Finn Juhl and The Miyazaki Chair Factory with their sculptural elements.

Your pieces are made from either ash or black walnut, why are these the timbers you use? What is it about these timbers that make them ideal for furniture making?

Both timbers were chosen for their exquisite colour and grain pattern. They turn beautifully on a lathe which is a technique I often use in my work and have an amazing finish with just a few coats of oil. Black walnut and ash are also very different in colour, with one being a dark wood (black walnut) and the other light (ash), giving a variety. This variety along with a selection of leathers allows a customer to really customise a piece to suit their style.

What is your favourite part of the making process?

Often the most exciting part is designing and building a piece for the first time. You spend a long time thinking about each piece, sketching time and again with different ideas and small tweaks, so seeing it come to life is always fun.

Is there a specific part you enjoy the most or do you enjoy the overall process as a whole?

I enjoy the whole process. The small details and finishing touches make a piece special so they’re often very rewarding to do.

What in your opinion is the benefit of designing and making in Britain?

One benefit is having so many creative and skilled craftspeople around, whether it be upholstery, metalwork and fabrication. I outsource a lot of the metalwork and upholstery for commissioned pieces to some very skilled craftsmen. Having this network allows for some very special work.

What are the features and aspects of British design that you notice and love?

Its variety stands out to me along with its contemporary and balanced feel. British design has a real sense of quality and style without shouting about it.

What do you think makes a good designer?

The ability to take inspiration from their experiences and surroundings and translate it into their design and unique style.

Do you have any particular design heroes or are there other makers your work has been influenced by?

George Nakashima, Finn Juhl, The Miyazaki Chair Factory and many others.

Are there upcoming projects or pieces you’re working on at the moment?

I’m working on a piece for ‘Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design’ exhibition in Cheltenham in August which will be a one off piece made with ebonised oak and brass detailing. It’s the start of ideas for next years collection!

My work will also be on display this year in London at ‘Decorex’ and ‘Century Twenty Design Show’.