I originally trained as a cabinetmaker at Parnham House/The John Makepeace school for craftsmen in wood. After an apprenticeship in David Fields’ workshop in London, I went on to the Royal College of Art to study furniture design and earn my professional qualifications, and I’ve since spent many years working as a cabinet-maker and furniture designer, with a wide range of corporate and private clients.
Over the years I’ve founded and managed On-The-Line Design, a multidisciplinary design consultancy in Chelsea Harbour, and then Guy Mallinson Furniture. This developed to become Mallinson Ltd, specialising in custom design and specialist woodworking for private and corporate clients. The workshop grew to sixteen cabinetmakers in a well-equipped workshop in Fulham, taking on large-scale contemporary furniture commissions, specialist joinery and architectural installations.
Mallinson Ltd was also involved in the development of new wood bending technologies – work which included the manufacture and processing of Bendywood®.
The LABAN project was the first major public installation using Bendywood® the architects were Herzog & De Meuron, with manufacture, design and development by Mallinson Ltd. In 2003 Herzog & De Meuron won the Stirling Prize for their work on LABAN, and in the same year, Mallinson Ltd won the FX International Interior Design Award for Best Public Space Installation for the project.
During that time I also took the decision to re-locate to West Dorset and a new working environment surrounded by woodland. My work on wood bending methods rekindled my interest in traditional green woodworking craftsmanship, in many ways the natural equivalent of the hi-tech methods I’d been helping to pioneer. (My first experience of green woodworking was back when I was studying at Parnham House, when I carved my first green wood bowl under the tuition of master bowl carver Paul Caton.) What’s more, working in woodland reminded me of just how wonderfully sustainable a resource wood can be.
Throughout my years of designing and making in London I’d been working with timber that had been felled, transported to a sawmill, sawn into planks, moved to timber stacks for years of drying, transported to timber stock holders, transported again to our workshops and then cut up into components, with the wastage (up to 50%) just discarded or burned. Nowadays, timber no longer arrives on a big lorry coming up the King’s Road! Instead, I can see the process through from the thinning and sustainable management of woodland to making a wooden product or building with minimal transportation or wastage. Keeping traditional craft skills alive has become a central part of the teaching side of the business alongside the sustainable benefits of green woodworking.
We continue to design and build contemporary structures and fit-outs as we always have although, rather than commissions, these days we rent out the final products. Our woodland workshops, yurts and treehouse are all in situ, practical examples of our more recent work. We are delighted that our Woodsman’s Treehouse has been nominated for and won a number of prestigious awards for both design and craftsmanship.
And that’s where I am now. My emphasis is very much on designing and building hand-crafted sustainable structures here in the woods in West Dorset. This, in turn, has led to television work, including the BBC ‘Mastercrafts’ series with Monty Don for which I was the ‘Wood Mentor’, the ‘Giles and Sue Live The Good Life’ series, ‘Escape to the Country’, ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces’ treehouse build and ‘Grand Designs House of the Year 2017’.