matthew smith

designer and maker of furniture

Matthew Smith Trained at the London College of Furniture graduating in 1988 having won the Wood Brothers First Prize in craftsmanship. With City and Guilds certificate of London Institute, Advanced Certificate in Furniture Design and Construction and City and Guilds Furniture Craft Certificate in Cabinet Making, he went on to be selected by the London College of Furniture to exhibit a table and prototype chairs at the New Designers Exhibition at Business Design Centre, Islington, London.

Matthew worked as an apprentice for Matthew Marchbank in Camden Town, London working on projects designed by Eva Jiricna, Ted Cullinan, Tchaik Chassey, Eric de Graaf, Julian Wickam & Baumgarden amongst others. Joining Ardern Hodges Ltd in Kings Cross London, he worked on various projects including a four poster bed and armchairs designed by John Stefanidis.

Matthew joined Osiris in Greenwich, London and learned the art of veneering amongst other skills. He made boardroom tables and reception desks for the likes of Arthur Young, Barclays Bank, Hewlett Packard and Federal Insurance.

After taking two years out to travel the world with his wife Geraldine, he moved to Bristol and joined Simon Kohn Ltd. Larger projects included making reception desks for Cheltenham Hospital and bedroom furniture for various college halls of residence.

Between 1994 and 1997 Matthew worked for Cato Furniture in Bristol, with graduates from Parnham House and High Wycombe Furniture College working on various interesting projects. Highlights include making a hi-fi cabinet in American black walnut, fiddle back sycamore, stainless steel and polished aluminum for the penthouse suite at Longleat, Wiltshire for Lord Bath. Matthew also made dining tables for Lord Bath in blue stained English oak, Delabole slate and glass.

Other highlights whilst working at Cato were American black walnut and ebony chairs for Silver Lining. Also the Conran Shop in London commissioned a production run of laminated cherry trays. A constant production item was the award winning laminated rocking chair designed by Cato.

After freelancing for a year working on various projects including kitchens for Gary Lineker, Bobby Davro and a table for Viscount Linley, Matthew finally set up on his own. In 1998 with 10 years of experience behind him Matthew Smith established Matthew Smith Furniture in the old Cato workshops in Easton, Bristol. 14 years later he is still working out of these large, well equipped workshops with a team of skilled cabinet makers.

With 25 years experience Matthew has worked on a wide variety of interesting projects. A notable highlight was the commission to design and build an altar for Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford followed by a further commission to design and make a Paschal candle stand, both in English olive ash. This was followed up a couple of years later with a request to design and make a prayer board, also for Christ Church. We had previously manufactured an altar in the prayer room at the new Childrens Hospital, Bristol in conjunction with glass artist Catrin Jones.

Other work included an Eva Jiricna/Springboard (Bristol) collaboration to make desks and drawers for The Royal Academy of Art, Piccadilly.

Another interesting project involved making curved laminated ply activity units with Perspex display cabinets for Bristol Museum (Designed by Polly Lewis).

An unusual and challenging commission Matthew undertook was to make elliptical gilded frames for 18th Century Italian paintings on the ceiling of the Bath Royal Literary and Science Institute. The four Andrea Casali (1720 - 1783) paintings were painted on canvas and fixed to the ceiling. This involved CNC routing in ply to produce a modern interpretation of the original 18th century lime frames which had disintegrated.

Other projects include large contracts in various private houses in the Cotswolds and surrounding areas making hand made fitted kitchens, fitted wardrobes, bookcases, display cabinets, bespoke mirrors, bathroom vanity units, bathroom mirrored cupboards, swimming pool furniture, chest of drawers, storage units, boxes and other storage solutions. Working with architects in Bristol and further afield, we have produced high quality work for a number of discerning clients.

Corporate work has included various boardroom tables and meeting tables (E.g. Cyril Sweett, Bristol), credenzas and sideboards.

In 2011 we were commissioned to make a curved, cantilevered seating area for the new Redland Green School in Bristol (the school was designed by BDP, seating by John Waldron/Matthew Smith) utilizing band sawn English olive ash. Other educational work has included another collaboration with Springboard (Bristol) making the display cabinets and tables for Thatcham Visitors Centre. We have also made various items of furniture for the City of Bristol College including architectural joinery, storage items, shelving, notice boards, reception areas etc.

25 years on, we continue to make a wide variety of high quality interesting work, mainly sourced by word of mouth and personal recommendation.