The Interview

Nick Anderson

October. 2021
We spoke to our founder Nick Anderson about how his journey to becoming a kitchen designer and cabinet maker has been inspired by the romance of old boats, beautifully proportioned buildings and his passion for sailing.

Guild Anderson began nearly 18 years ago in a shed at the bottom of the garden.  We are as passionate now as we were then about creating beautiful furniture for the spaces in your homes.  Today we still design with the same passion, creativity and genuine love for beautiful bespoke cabinetry.

With climate, health, sustainable design and working from home being at the forefront of most people’s personal wellbeing we are now seeing a genuine shift in the way that people are using their homes.

Good design is at the forefront of everything we produce.  We take a space and make it work for you; your family; your way of life. 

Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?

In theory my role is that of Managing Director, but it involves so much more.  I am proud to have created a strong team that requires little management.  We work brilliantly together and this allows me to focus on the most important part of my job; to listen to our clients and advise on the best solution for their space and then set the design direction for each project.

Nick – have you always been a maker?

I have always loved making things and working with my hands.  At school I built model boats; both sailing and motorised, and because I was practical my Mum always turned to my DIY skills when it came to putting up shelves to ensure they were straight!

What motivates you?

The whole process of designing; I love making things.

Where did you study?

I wanted to be a boat designer.  I studied Naval Architecture which turned out to be 3 years of Maths!  I enrolled on the course because I had a passion for the romance of boat building rather than studying naval motor boats.  I then followed a 7 year career in IT through the John Lewis graduate scheme.  But my passion remained with boats and the romance of the golden age of boat building.  My love of classic shapes and sailing is personified in the historic 39.56 metre classic from 1934 – J Class sailing yacht; Endeavour.

What motivated you to start Guild Anderson?

My incredibly supportive parents-in-law had previously met Mark Wilkinson.  They introduced me to Mark and I cheekily asked him for a job; he very kindly gave me a role in the research and development workshop; I learned very quickly, the whole team were great.  After 9 months I left feeling I had learned enough to leave and start making myself.  Again through my parents-in-law they introduced me to a friend of theirs that needed a new kitchen.  I designed, made, fitted and painted the kitchen myself, and am thrilled that they still have that kitchen 18 years later!

What are your favourite pastimes outside the office? 

Sailing is my passion.  With my father I co-own a 36 foot Jeanneau moored on the Beaulieu river.  I love the whole aspect of sailing, but above everything I love teaching people to sail.

Do you cook?  Favourite dish? 

Yes lots, and always from scratch.  I have more time at the weekends and my go-to recipe book is from Ottolenghi; easy, delicious and impressive!

Favourite place to travel to, why? 

Burma.  Hannah and I visited Burma in 2001 on our bikes.  Out of any of the places that we visited it had the most impact on me.

What is your favourite period in history?

The 2nd World War.  In 5 years we went from flying bi-planes to inventing space rockets, jet engines, nuclear bombs and computers.  Socially it gave much more freedom to women.  I enjoy listening to the podcasts and audio books from James Holland; an English author and broadcaster who specialises in the history of World War II.

What is your favourite furniture style?

The Shakers; their furniture was plain in style, durable, and functional; their dedication to hard work and their inventiveness is inspiring.  They invented the circular saw!

Do you have a favourite building/s?

Castle Drogo and Llanhydrock; Lutyens architecture in general because of the sheer scale and diversity of detail and execution. 

I also love perfect Georgian House proportion; simple, beautiful and elegant.  The Georgians paid meticulous attention to proportion rather than fussy details; just like we do with our Guild Anderson furniture.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I concentrate on proportion and consistency, treating all parts equally.

What or who are you most influenced by?

The Shakers; their furniture was made thoughtfully, with functional form and proportion. Rather than using ornamentation.

Describe your workspace, where is it and what is in it?

Our design studio and kitchen showroom are in Tisbury, Wiltshire.  Upstairs on my desk is a decent monitor, a nice mouse, a ‘Steelcase’ chair, a ‘reMarkable’ tablet. 

I have just bought a vintage Admel Draftman’s Table from the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield; imagine what may have already been drawn on it!  I plan to do much more hand drawing for both the design team and clients.

How does it feel to be part of the UK creative industry?

I simply love that Guild Anderson are part of a creative industry that makes furniture that people love and use.  I am extremely proud that our business supports a highly skilled workforce and we give young people opportunity by taking on apprentices; two of which have stayed with us for 16 years!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in the industry?

A degree isn’t essential, we find that on the job experience is the best experience; you learn so much watching and working with someone else.  An apprenticeship is a great way in. 

How do you approach sustainability and what does it mean for your business?

Wood is a very sustainable material; we use incredibly detailed bespoke computer system to ensure we use the wood efficiently, with little waste.  We try to use very little packaging as we use shipping blankets for delivering the cabinets to your home.  The hardware that we use is the best quality, hand finished, and will last a very long time.  Our workshop roof is covered in solar panels.  We have a 40kw system and we use a maximum of 36kw; creating more electricity than we use.

What is the most significant challenge the industry faces in terms of sustainability and how can we adapt?

Often its the things we can’t see that cause the most damage.  If we could use materials sourced locally we could reduce our carbon footprint.  Certain expensive materials such as stone used for floors and worktops can be imported to the UK from anywhere in the world.

What else is happening at Guild Anderson?

We are thrilled to be investing in new employees.  Kate has recently joined us as Senior Furniture Designer and James has joined us as our new apprentice.  Two important roles that will help us grow as a business.

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