There was only one thing I wanted to do when I left school – and that was to follow my passion for woodworking. Aged just 17, I took up an apprenticeship at a renowned furniture restorer in Ayr, on Scotland’s west coast.
I love the grain and the tactile qualities of wood. To me, different timbers have different personalities and it was fascinating to watch them evolve into things of beauty. There was no question that this was what I wanted to do.
That initial apprenticeship served me well and I went on to work for a series of high-end furniture makers. It was a great learning curve, but in my heart, I had a strong creative vision that I was determined to follow with own business. I come from an Italian-Scottish family and that’s a potent combination. I grew up loving great design. with a dollop of Scots determination thrown in for good measure.
That’s what led me to set up 1718. The ethos of my company is simple – myself and the team create timeless furniture of distinction that is unique to our clients. And while I have decades of hands-on cabinet-making experience, most of my time is now spent on working with our clients on the designs, which my team turns into things of true beauty. Meanwhile, I leave the company management to my business partner Susan Mancini. She has a wealth of practical experience and, together, we bring our family values to 1718’s positive, client-focused culture.
1718 has steadily built up an international clientele of private clients, interior designers and architects keen to avail themselves of our work. And I believe it’s vital to spend as much quality time as possible with the customer so that they can get a feel for the materials they want to use and what part the furniture will play in their life, or the lives of their clients.
At present, we are focused on our bespoke ‘couture’ work, but having successfully continued to fulfil orders across the world throughout the pandemic crisis, we are now also looking to meet a demand for creating limited-edition collections of furniture and accessories, in a variety of materials and sizes. This is something we expect to launch in 2021, broadening accessibility to our work.
It’s an exciting development but, for all that myself and the team have achieved, part of me will always be that 17-year-old apprentice cabinet-maker from Ayr, and sometimes I have to pinch myself when I see 1718 furniture in private homes, country estates, heritage buildings and corporate headquarters, from Hong Kong to New York.
And the biggest thrill of all for me is that, together with our clients and my team, we are making the antiques of tomorrow.