If you see somebody carrying unwieldy lengths of timber on the back of a Raleigh Stowaway, it’s probably the creator of BANTHORPE + CO. – Charlie Banthorpe.
We speak to Charlie about his experiences since moving back to the UK and starting up his business in one of our spaces at Freestone Studios
Can you tell us what was it that made you move to the UK?
My girlfriend Natalia and I used to live in Helsinki, Finland. We decided to move to the UK in 2016, but didn’t know exactly where we wanted to be. We spent some time checking out a few different places, but Bristol was the one that stood out to us. Natalia is a nutritionist and I’m a designer/maker – it seemed like we could both find like-minded people here!
How long have you had a space with Meanwhile Creative and what has it meant for you and your business?
Just over a year now – we started off with one of the smaller spaces at Freestone Studios. Luckily, the next studio became available recently and we were able to snap it up and gain a bit of extra elbow room. It’s nice to work in a way that suits you best and change things as you see fit. This space allows me to keep my tools as organised (or disorganised) as I like and make the mess when I need to.
It sounds like a very hands on business! Can you briefly sum up for me what your business does and how it started?
BANTHORPE + CO. is a design and fabrication workshop making custom furniture, installations and products. We do a lot of work in wood, but also metalwork, casting, CNC machining, 3D-printing and electronics. The business started in 2017 when I decided that I wanted to make a living out of what I love most. I used to work in a Fabrication Lab at Aalto University in Helsinki, where I helped design students and researchers produce their work. That’s when I started getting ideas on what I wanted to make.
What are the best and worst parts about your job and is there any work that you are particularly proud of?
I find it hard to take good photos of my work. My technique is usually to take about 1000 photos and delete 995 of them! Delivering a finished project to a happy customer has got to be up there with the best bits. Last year we designed, programmed and installed the electronics for an installation at by London-based artist for Jeff Robb. It involved 840 LED lights that reacted and changed colour based on an audio clip. It was quite a challenge to get it all working, but very rewarding when it finally came together.
Sounds like a lot of work! Are there any other projects in the making or plans for 2018?
I’m currently finishing off a built-in glassware cabinet for a client in Clifton. It uses some interesting materials and techniques that I haven’t worked with a great deal before (like fragments of Bristol Blue Glass cast in Jesmonite), so I’m excited to get that one finished and installed! Next up is an extending dining table and a modular shelving unit concept I’ve been working on. Some of our smaller products (‘Ananimal Puzzle’ and ‘Nutbot’) will soon be available in a local independent design shop (watch this space), and our new website will also be live very shortly! All in all, things are moving in the right direction and I’m excited to see what the second half of the year brings!