James Wellesley is not like any other furniture manufacturer or joinery company. The London studio was founded just a few years ago and already has many prestigious projects in its portfolio. Their mission statement is to 'create some of the world's finest interiors' and by the look of these images we can say that they have succeeded in this wonderfully well. The secret ingredients in their successful approach? Ambition, craftsmanship and a managing director with a very clear vision.
The company was founded in 2015 and has since have remained true to the original philosophy resulting in dozens of projects that have come to a successful conclusion. They regularly work together with renowned interior designers (Laura Hammett, Elicyon) whose ideas they bring to life. Leading a team of currently over 30 dedicated employees, is Rob Webster. His passion for furniture and custom-made solutions started at a young age. We talked to the Managing Director of the company about how he ended up in this fascinating field of work and what he still wants to achieve with James Wellesley. Where does your love for furniture and interiors come from?
“I embarked on a furniture making career at a very young age, starting in a small workshop in East London where I spent a lot of my school holidays as the workshop laborer – sweeping up and making the tea. It was there that I fell in love with bespoke furniture making. I would watch the craftsmen at work and then go home to my parents’ shed and try and copy what I saw them do, the results at this stage were very mixed but I got a few customers for my homemade plant boxes!”
What followed was – hopefully – a more professional education?
“On leaving school, I embarked on an apprenticeship studying at the London College of Furniture whilst working part time with renowned British maker Martin Grierson. Everything in the workshop was done by hand so I developed my skills there and began to get a taste of the immense satisfaction creating beautiful pieces of furniture brought. Having gained my qualifications, I then worked for two London based furniture makers firstly in the commercial sector and then in the high-end residential sector. I worked my way up through the ranks and swapped my tools and workbench for a laptop and a desk.” What is your vision for James Wellesley?
“I joined James Wellesley in 2017 with a view to create a brand that would become recognized globally as a market leader that would deliver the very best quality and service to its clients.”
How do you embark on a project and what is your role in it as a joinery company?
“Our services can vary from project to project. We will often work closely with an interior designer or an architect who has developed concept drawings. We will take these drawings and convert them into full working drawings that accommodate site conditions such as mechanical and electrical work whilst ensuring that the design intent is adhered to.
We also work directly with end user clients; we will take a brief and develop our own designs for them often coming up with our own ideas and suggestions for what may meet the client’s requirement. This involves looking at finishes/schemes, site conditions, interfaces with other trades and managing the whole process on the client’s behalf.”
We set out with a clear goal of turning James Wellesley into a global brand
Your focus seems to be on London, but what about projects abroad?
“We set out with a clear goal of turning James Wellesley into a global brand and getting involved in projects overseas. However, we have not yet actively marketed abroad and all our international projects to date have been from clients that we have worked for in London, some have been from recommendations from these clients.”
Do you see recurring elements or trends in what clients ask for their homes?
“Trends can be very different depending on the background and nationality of our clients. The main thing that often follows a trend is finishes more than the actual design. We have moved from traditional timber finishes, to more high gloss lacquered work over the last few years. We are now noticing a demand for incorporating other materials into finishes such as fabric, metal, liquid metal, precious stones etc.” What can we expect from James Wellesley in the future?
“We are currently making an investment in a new state of the art factory which will give us a springboard to cope with an ever-increasing demand for our services. We are seeking to continue our investment in people and expand our team to ensure we establish ourselves as a market leader in the high-end residential sector. Other areas we have identified as those that we believe would suit our business model well include superyacht and private jet interior fit-out. To this end, we aim to have trebled our existing turnover in the next 8 years.”
That sounds very ambitious and there can be no doubt that James Wellesley stands for luxurious, high-quality and unique interiors. We look forward to discovering more of their wonderful projects in the years to come.
This interview was originally published in Imagicasa Autumn 2019.
Images courtesy of James Wellesley, Elicyon and Laura Hammett