Meet the Maker – Jeremy Norton
We all love a beautiful home, one adorned with things of special interest. Jeremy Norton is a master furniture maker based in Bridport. We caught up with him to learn a little of what’s involved in the process of making bespoke furniture, and what drives this craftsman.
So, Jeremy, what are you working on at the moment?
JN: I’m building a large kitchen for a house in North London. This will be a beautiful kitchen and is the kind of high-end bespoke project that I enjoy most.
Because it’s a kitchen?
JN: Because this project is a beautiful design. I team up with a very experienced kitchen and furniture designer to achieve this. So, a beautiful design is important to me, but there is a need for attention to detail and hand-crafted elements to this project and the high functionality of this kind of kitchen- many bespoke cupboard spaces, a full range of integrated appliances and the clever use of space to make all of this possible. These are the things make a project interesting. Ultimately, for me it’s about making something beautiful that will last, and something useful that is a real addition to a living space. This means it will be a bespoke project, but it could be anything from a simple fitted bookcase to a grand kitchen or a unique elliptical staircase.
You moved here to Dorset 7 years ago, from London, and you are still making furniture for clients in London? How do the projects compare, between London and Dorset?
JN: Actually, there is no real difference in the work I do between these places. The reason, I think, is that most of my clients are looking for the right maker. They are discerning people who value craftsmanship and something well made. Once they find that maker, of furniture, or jewellery, say, they stick with them, I think. Because I work on my own I’m in a position to maintain the very high standards I like to work to. Clients deal with me from the very beginning to the end of the process and for some that is important.
How important is it to you to be based in West Dorset? It appears you could set up maybe anywhere?
JN: It’s hugely important to me to be here in West Dorset. It’s about wellbeing or state of mind, an environment that reminds me every day of nature, one that provides space to move and think and enjoy life more; this helps me enjoy work more. I grew up in London but always hankered after the kind of countryside I have around me here. Moving here wasn’t possible for me until 7 years ago. It is the same basket of eggs landscape I fell in love with as a boy, seeing it only in photographs or on the telly. And I paid special attention in school geography lessons as to how this kind of landscape was formed; it really impressed me from an early age. Still now, when I’m on the Exeter train around nearby Axminster, I see the meandering river and the ox-bow lakes and I remember the magic I felt as a boy reading about these landscapes. At those young ages I actually wanted two things, to live in this kind of ‘Famous-5’ countryside, as I thought of it and to live close to the sea. Nowadays, living in a small village near Bridport I have all of those things, including the fabulous Jurassic coast. It took a long time to get here, but I’m definitely here for good.