Sustainable Solutions with Taylor’s Classics

Ahead of our Sustainable Materials campaign which begins on the 1st October we took the opportunity to speak with Martin Taylor, Managing Director of Taylor’s Classics to learn more about how they are addressing the problem created by the large quantities of timber dining chairs which are deemed redundant long before the end of their useful lives.

Can you introduce yourself & your company?
I’m Martin Taylor, the managing director of Taylor’s Classics. For the first 30 years of my working life, I was an antique dealer specialising in 18th and 19th-century English and Continental furniture, then in the recession of 2009/ 2010 when the world and the banks collapsed, I decided I would along with my six loyal staff move the company in a different direction… So, with the experience of my ‘antique dealers’ eye’, Taylors Classics was born! We now operate out of a 35,000 square-foot building in Stafford and employ over 26 people.

We have created an exclusive range of furniture from bars to cast-iron bases, timber traditional dining chairs and tables. Our main customers being hotels, pubs and restaurants supplying generally traditional furniture, but we also sell a large number of reclaimed chairs and antique furniture.

How have you started to tackle the environmental impact of timber furniture?
At Taylors Classics we have always been interested in selling interesting antique furniture into pubs and restaurants. The two main items of furniture in a restaurant or pub are the seating and the dining tables, and I only know too well that to make a dining chair in oak, walnut or mahogany is an expensive process and when I began to look at what chairs I could buy in and around the antiques trade I thought this was a fantastic opportunity to market them to my customers as an alternative to new.

How many chairs need to be reclaimed to save one oak tree?
We have in excess of 2000 chairs in stock, so when you consider that for an average size oak tree one would be able to make between 50 and 60 chairs by offering these alternatives to our customers, we feel we are definitely helping the environment and reducing the number of trees that are felled.

Before and after renovation

Where do the reclaimed chairs come from?
I have a network of friends and antique dealers up and down the country, who send me pictures on WhatsApp or email regularly. I can honestly say that each set of chairs that we now offer to our clients have been handpicked by myself!

What process do you go through in order to restore each dining chair?
The main criteria being that they must all be in original condition, have no breaks, preferably have the original colour and patination and they must be pre-1915.

If the chairs wobble this is not a problem as each chair is knocked apart, the joints are cleaned, the glue blocks are cleaned with all the old glue being removed, the chairs are then sympathetically put back together. They are then washed off with warm water and soda crystals to get the hundred-year-old grime off the frames, they are then over stained and waxed and the seat & backs are reupholstered in a fabric or leather of our customer’s choice.

Will the refurbished chair be like new?
We like to think that when the chairs leave our workshop, they will be good for a number of years and enjoyed!

Do you offer a guarantee?
Yes, we do offer a one-year guarantee with all our reclaimed chairs, but I must say I would be very disappointed if they didn’t last a lot longer!

Do you have any plans for the future to grow this scheme?
In regards to plans for the future growth of the scheme, I would hope that by advertising and word-of-mouth and appealing to people’s conscience we can continue to sell more and more! The one thing that does concern me slightly is the supply, as these particular chairs are obviously getting scarcer!

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About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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