Meet the Maker: Chris Turner, Cabinetmaker

Chris Turner in his Glasgow workshop (Image: Lee Davidson Connor Photography)

You have to love what you do in life. I saw this in my own family, growing up in Northern Ireland. My dad made aeroplanes and my mum was a seamstress, and their skills and passions surrounded us, from detailed drawings of planes to colourful fabrics and patterns.

My Uncle John learned his cabinetmaking skills at Hanna & Browne in Belfast, and I grew up hearing his tales of travelling across the globe, working with interesting and exotic woods in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. He passed away a couple of years ago but I keep the furniture book he gave me in my workshop office – it still inspires me.

After studying furniture construction at college in Glasgow, I worked for an antiques company, restoring pianos. I then worked for a local cabinetmaker and some of Scotland’s well-known furniture-makers, before setting up my own firm, Turner Furniture, in 2003.

The Cubist Credenza blends traditional cabinet­making skills and marquetry techniques. Each one is unique, thanks to the 630 hand­cut elements that go into the design (Image: Paul T Cowan Photography)

Dovetails are made with incredible attention to detail (Image: Lee Davidson Connor Photography)

I work a lot with hardwoods but also love working with veneer. Unlike solid timber, marquetry can be used to depict patterns and pictures. It’s a technique I use a lot in my designs.

The natural beauty of the outdoors has a big impact on me. That includes the trees themselves – their patterns and shapes are reflected in my furniture.

“The natural beauty of the outdoors has a big impact on me. The patterns and shapes are reflected in my furniture”

I love the German architect, painter and designer Richard Riemerschmid (1868-1957): the abstract triangular forms of his furniture have fascinated me for years, ever since I made a reproduction of one of his tables for a college project. It inspired my recently completed Uisge Beatha Whisky Chair.

A Chris Turner design is as much a work of art as it is a practical, usable piece of furniture (Image: Lee Davidson Connor Photography)

Many of the pieces in his signature range feature geometric marquetry (Image: Saunders Films & Photography)

Chris also takes on bespoke commissions (Image: Paul T Cowan Photography)

I also like artists who are pushing boundaries and trying to do something different, such as Kevin Stamper and Christine Meyer-Eaglestone.

The best part of my job is seeing the smile on someone’s face when they are delighted with their furniture. There’s a real feeling of pride at that moment when something you’ve made has such a positive effect on someone’s life.