An interview with Jonathan Walter, Co-founder of Bark Furniture
Who are you?
My name is Jonathan Walter. I was born in South Wales and I grew up in South London and I am a cabinet maker.
What did you do before you started Bark Furniture?
I became an accountant. I was in London for twelve or thirteen years, before moving to New York then Sao Paulo. I found a place that was just magical. I didn’t want to leave. So I quit the bank and stayed in Brazil. I started going to the libraries in Sao Paolo picking out books on furniture. I’d always had an interest in design and stylish cool stuff.
How did your collaboration with wife Lakshmi come about?
We did the same course and we had the same social group. After a while we realised that because we liked the same aesthetics, we liked the same influences, we should collaborate. And that collaboration is what became Bark, and then we also got married and then we had two kids. Our two children were both born in Cornwall. We just love it here. The quality of life, the lifestyle, work/life balance, the creativity that’s down here has all made it seem like absolutely the right choice.
What’s your average day like?
I try and get out of the house around 8 o’clock with the little ones. I will drive up a really nice A-road along the coast called the Atlantic Highway. I get to work around 8:30. Each day will be completely different. Anything from discussing sketches in terms of how we’re going to produce it, trying to understand the sketches of somebody that we’ve got a collaboration with, scheduling the day to make sure that it’s productive. We’ll be selecting wood, selecting the right timber for a specific project, working that timber through the machines, doing the joinery work. There isn’t a standard day, and that’s one of the best things about being a designer maker, about being a cabinet maker.
How does your business relate to the west?
We didn’t choose Cornwall. Cornwall is something that’s grown on us. We found it a very amenable place to work. The way we offer our furniture has completely changed because of the way we operate. It is made locally. Cornwall has given us a relaxed frame of mind, which is a great way to start work.
Has the west inspired any of your designs?
Cornwall, especially the North Cornwall coast. I think the way we have incorporated Cornwall into our furniture is in the lifestyle feel of our pieces. We wouldn’t allow ourselves to be considered “corporate”. We go out of our way to make things idiosyncratic and unusual and a little bit quirky. And I think that’s part of the lifestyle down here, people are down here by choice. The people who seem to get the most out of Cornwall have a sort of idiosyncratic nature, a wish to be original and themselves. We both came from very corporate environments and this is where we found ourselves.
How does Bark use Great Western Railway?
When we chose the South West as a place to live, you have to think about how you're going to get to your client base. Cornwall is well connected. The great thing about Great Western Railway, is that that time doesn’t become dead time. On board, it’s still productive time for us. It’s time where we can basically multi-task. We use the train to get people to and from [shows in London] so they can get back here efficiently. The time is saved, the energy is saved, you always arrive fresher. The best use of the time is to sit there and take advantage of the Wi-Fi, take advantage of the fact that you can have a bit of food while you're specifying a product, liaising with a client, ordering things for the workshop.
Find out more on www.barkfurniture.com