464 Words - Posted on 3rd October 2018

Jonathan Walter from Bark Furniture

Yes, but why?

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog explaining my reasons for changing careers and becoming a cabinetmaker. It seems there are as many original stories as there are makers, and it is a line we’ll come back to periodically as I think it helps to gain an insight into the mind of the maker. It also shows that such a move is rarely as dramatic or as overwhelming as people imagine.

I asked Jonathan to put down his thoughts on this. In his words:

“I have always been a little but envious of people who have always known what they’d like to do. Nurses and teachers, car restorers, anyone who has chosen a vocation. This is particularly true of creative people – artists, sculptors, actors. It must have been wonderful having an early life with a clear goal in mind. 

I had been an accountant for fifteen years before it dawned on me that noone I worked with was a role model for where I wanted to head. My bosses were mostly good people, but they were stressed, or didn’t know their kids, or were excessively serious! 

I was lucky that I found myself working in a country, Brazil, where the work-life balance made sense to me far more. Family was more important than career, and the stress levels were far lower. 

So I quit and moved to Brazil. And for no better reason than to use a different part of my brain I started to sketch. And I sketched furniture because I liked furniture, and I could draw it acceptably (as opposed to faces or landscapes that would always look rubbish!)

Serendipity struck when a neighbour told me their dad made furniture, and maybe he could make something I had designed. To cut a long story short, spending time in a workshop had me hooked. I enjoyed watching furniture being made, so I joined a furniture school. I loved making furniture.

The school where I learned furniture making in Sao Paulo was inspirational, but lacked the equipment to make fine furniture. This led me to search the world for a great school to take furniture to the next level. This drew me to Rowden. To this day I cannot get over how much I learned in those twelve months. Certainly enough to have the raw skills to start up a small business, Bark Furniture, with Lakshmi.

So, I have to thank fortune for finding a career for me that I genuinely love every day. And I thank friends – Piero Calo in Sao Paolo and David Savage in sunny Shebbear, for guiding me down this amazing path that I hope to continue to walk along, for a long time into the future.”

Until next time,


Lakshmi Bhaskaran

Writer at Rowden Atelier
Lakshmi Bhaskaran studied at the Rowden Atelier in 2008, following on from a successful career as a design writer and author. It was at Rowden that she met her husband and business partner, Jonathan Walter. The pair set up Bark Furniture in 2010 and now run a successful furniture business, based in Cornwall, with clients all around the world. Lakshmi has written for renowned publications like Wallpaper, and has authored five books in the design area.
Lakshmi Bhaskaran

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Categories: A Makers Year

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