A Day In The Life: Matt Crisp Workshop Supervisor

Having trained at the renowned Rycotewood Furniture College in Oxford and with experience gained at joinery and bespoke furniture makers, Matt joined Langstaff-Ellis in 2016, becoming Workshop Supervisor shortly afterwards.

8am: The whole team arrives early and we have a meeting first thing. As supervisor, I plan the schedule and allocate jobs. We normally have 3-4 projects on the go at any one time so the team have a good idea of what they are doing and where we are in any particular project, but it’s important for me to ensure we are running to schedule and that any questions raised are dealt with efficiently so we maintain our high standards at all times.

The morning meeting is an important part of our day, it’s not just about what we have to achieve that day but also our chance to discuss technical challenges and helps create a real team bond.

If we have a new project this is our chance to discuss the logistics, challenges and deadlines. What is lovely about making bespoke furniture is that no two jobs are the same so there is always something new to challenge our skills and get us thinking.

For example, I remember one of my early jobs at Langsatff-Ellis when we had to create some beautifully curved cabinets for a kitchen island. It took a lot of thinking and technical creativity beforehand to achieve the result the designers were asking for, but we were all so proud of the end result.

Since we’ve been all back in the workshop after lockdown the meetings are socially distanced which means a bit of shouting across the workshop at times but it all helps to create a bond between us and a real family atmosphere.

10am: I spend the morning going around each workbench to make sure everyone is happy and resolving any problems before getting back to my own bench.

I still enjoy the hands-on process of making a piece of furniture more than anything else, it gives me a real buzz to work with my hands creating something completely bespoke. These days I’m probably only hands-on 40% of the time but it always reminds me of why I love what I do.

We have a break at 10am for a cup of tea, which is always a good chance to have a chat and review what we’re all doing.

1pm: I enjoy the post tea break hours, it’s a really good chance to get my head down and concentrate on the work at hand. Right now I’m in the middle of making a whole library, it’s incredibly satisfying work and I know it will look stunning once its completed. These few hours always fly by for me but probably provide the biggest sense of achievement.

If we’re working on a big project such as the fabulous one we recently completed at Laureate Gardens in Henley there’ll be a real buzz in the workshop as we all apply ourselves to meet the deadline on time. I enjoy the sounds and smells of a busy workshop and couldn’t imagine sitting in an office!

Because we’re based in the middle of the countryside in the hills above Chinnor there aren’t many options for lunch so we’ll bring something in and sit at our benches. But again it’s a good opportunity to review progress and if necessary adjust the workflow to ensure the afternoon runs smoothly. There’s always some fun too and because my brother is now part of the team there’s quite a lot of humour in the workshop.

3pm: As the afternoon rolls on I like to check the progress of all the projects. We’re really proud of the quality of our furniture in the workshop so I’ll make sure everything is finished to the highest standard before it is wrapped ready for delivery to site.

Fortunately, I work with a great team of craftsmen and often my quality checks are more about admiring the excellence of the work than criticising it. It’s always a pleasure though when I can tick off a quality check on the system and pass a piece for delivery to site.

Unfortunately, I don’t get out to as many jobs to install the furniture now as I used to due to my role in the workshop, but when I do get on site it still gives me a real thrill to see the smiles on the faces of clients as they see the completed furniture in situ for the first time.

4pm: Towards the end of the day I check the progress of the work at every workbench to make sure we’re on track and to help plan the workflow for the following day.

This also tends to be the time when we’re loading vans ready for delivery the next day, and as a lot of our pieces are pretty large and sometimes quite heavy we have all hands on deck – the last thing we want to do is damage something so it’s important to be extra cautious and treat our work as precious cargo.

The last task I have each day is to make sure the whole workshop and every workstation is clean and tidy with tools put away and dust and shavings swept up. If the workshop is neat and tidy it’s so much easier to start the following day.

If it’s a Friday we finish at 4 o’clock, which is a really great way to start the weekend, otherwise we’re in the workshop until five. Often there’ll be some planning to do at the end of the day and I’ll have discussions with the designers, all of which puts us in a good place to start efficiently the following morning.

Everyone in the workshop is really proud of what we do, it’s such a satisfying job seeing something you’ve created as a team take shape. Knowing your contribution is valued both within the company and by the clients is really rewarding.

5pm: Once I’ve left for the day I’ll go out and enjoy the local woods and hills on my mountain bike if the weather is good, or I’ll do some work on the classic VW Golf I’m restoring, all of which clears my mind and helps prepare me for the following day creating high-quality bespoke furniture back in the workshop.

For more information about creating bespoke furniture for your home please contact Langstaff-Ellis using the details below.