Celebrating Start-Ups: East London Furniture [Video]

Christian Dillion and Ben Green of East London Furniture. Pic: Aaron Lee

A shop in Hoxton is making eye-catching furniture out of used materials. EastLondonLines takes a look inside its operation

The stock in East London Furniture could have come from a contemporary design studio. The sort of furniture you spy on TV or in a restaurant and think: where can I get my hands on that?

The twist is that all the products are made using recycled materials, such as reclaimed wood from shipping pallets. The store’s location, at the time of writing, in Hoxton was just over a year old.

In this special report, we hear from East London Furniture founders, Christian Dillon and Ben Green.

Dillon was made redundant from his previous job as a technician at an art gallery over a year ago. It was during this time that he had the desire to make furniture.

Dillon and Green, both aged 33, are originally from Australia and have backgrounds in woodwork. It was thanks to a scheme offering temporary, rent-free leases, called Meanwhile Space, which enabled the duo to setup shop, in Whitechapel, Exmouth market and then Hoxton.

East London Furniture’s Hoxton shop is owned by the Shoreditch Trust. Thanks to their success in the last 12 months, the team have now moved to a large warehouse space in Bermondsey.

“Sustainability is central to the concept, we use materials that we find, materials that are already in the area,” says Dillon, “Although they’re sometimes not the materials that you need at a certain time, we try to work out a way to make those materials do what we need.”

Everything in the shop has been made from materials found in and around the Hackney area. The team have relationships with certain businesses that let them know when opportunities to salvage materials arise.

Handmade tables, chairs, stools, pencil pots, doorstops, floor lamps and picture frames are all made in store, by Dillon, Ben and a small set of volunteers. On a good day, the team makes six chairs. A more substantial product, such as Rubin’s Desk, can take three to four days to finish.

All of the products have a refined rustic feel, curved edges and brushed timber, and they have attracted a sizeable amount of attention for the store. Last year, East London Furniture supplied café Salt, in Covent Garden, with chairs and tables to complete its atmosphere. Some of its products are stocked by the Design Museum and have featured in magazines i-D and Elle Decoration.

“It’s the products we design that are our brand. That’s what we have to do as designers – come up with products that people like. That’s our point of difference.”

Dillon is amazed at how far his furniture store has come in only a year. He says that having your own business allows you to fulfil want you want to do with your life.

“If we can do this, then anyone can do anything,” he says, “It’s about having a good idea. It’s got to be something that people can connect with.”

With thanks to the East London Business Alliance.

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