Benchmark is our Supplier of the Week, 7 – 13 November.
Set up with the intention of creating a craft-based workshop that could provide customers with quality and value, the Benchmark team have worked on perfecting this over the years. To this date the company has a strong view towards sustainability, both in terms of materials and production, as well as supporting apprentices and fostering young talent.
We spoke with the team to find out more.
What’s the story behind Benchmark?
Sean Sutcliffe and Terence Conran founded Benchmark in 1984 with a dream of creating a craft based workshop that produced furniture on a scale that would provide customers with high quality, beautifully designed furniture made in a responsible way and at a reasonable price. Now one of the leading and most technically advanced furniture makers in the UK, we make and sell our own furniture collection as well as working with many of the world’s top architects and designers on bespoke projects fitting and furnishing offices, hotels, bars, restaurants and public buildings.
What is special about your products?
We are a team of craftspeople who care deeply about what we design and make. As with all craft made pieces, the love of our craftsmen is imbued in the pieces we make, which is what makes them so unique and desirable.
How are your products made?
All of our furniture is handmade by craftsmen using the highest quality materials from wood and specialist metals such as pewter, zinc and copper, through to glass, stone and upholstery. Because we take the raw timber in at one end and turns out a finished piece of furniture at the other end we are in control of every single step of the process which means that we can ensure that your furniture is made exactly to your requirements and meets our high quality expectations.
How does sustainability feature in your designs and production?
Sustainability is at the heart of our business and we are proud to be twice winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development. Thirty years ago we took a stance on tropical timbers and endangered species but it is not just about materials sourcing or energy conservation. It is about everything we do and we continually make every effort to develop our business in a responsible and sustainable way. That includes making furniture that has lasting value that will be kept and passed on to future generations.
What does a typical day look like for the Benchmark team?
With over one hundred projects being worked on at any one time, there isn’t a typical day! Every day is different which makes it a really interesting place to work.
What projects have your designs been used in recently?
We are currently working on bespoke projects for the new Design Museum which opens later this month and auditorium seating for Worcester College in Oxford. Some of our most recent projects for our furniture collection include the new Rick Stein restaurant in Marlborough; several private residences including holiday homes in St Tropez and Devon; and a boutique hotel in Oxford.
You work closely with apprentices and have also been highly commended as an employer of the year. Why is fostering young talent an important part of your process?
Apprenticeships simply make sense. They’re good for our business – we get the right skills and a great attitude from our apprentices and in return we nurture young talent and aim to provide them with a fabulous career. Former apprentices make up more than half our workforce and fill some of the most senior positions in the company. When we look at the new apprentices in our workshop today we are looking at the future of our business. Our apprenticeship programme really is the cornerstone of our business and it always will be.
What’s next on the horizon for Benchmark?
We are developing some really interesting and beautiful pieces to add to our furniture collection which we hope to launch in Spring 2017.
We are also hosting one of our Toolbox Talks early next year, 22/02/2017, in collaboration with eporta and Solomon & Wu at our workshop in Berkshire. Click here for more information.
To open a trade account with Benchmark and start ordering from them directly, click through to their catalogue below, and then ‘request a connection’: