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Glossop carpentry business Jack Badger undertakes the project of a lifetime

PUBLISHED: 00:00 31 October 2015

Working on the bog oak

Working on the bog oak

Adrian Lambert

From Glossop to Milan and beyond, Jack Badger sees its name travel the world.

The Jack Badger team prepares to send the bar on its way to MilanThe Jack Badger team prepares to send the bar on its way to Milan

The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for carpentry and masonry business Jack Badger. Based in Glossop, the team of 10 are among the most highly skilled and talented craftspeople in the UK. Using traditional carpentry and masonry techniques, Jack Badger designs and creates bespoke fittings, furniture and architectural features, usually for properties across the UK. However, in February the business was invited to take part in a unique project.

Leading design magazine Wallpaper* approached Jack Badger to take part in an ambitious assignment for its Handmade exhibition at the internationally acclaimed Salone del Mobile show in Milan, which showcases the best furniture, designs and interiors from around the world. The magazine discovered Jack Badger after the team won the Judges’ Special Award at the Wood Awards in November 2014.

The magazine wanted to partner the carpentry company with international award-winning British architect and furniture designer, Sally Mackereth of Studio Mackereth, in creating a unique bar. Sponsored by Royal Salute, the bar – named Neolithic – was made out of ancient fossilised wood sourced from the River Sava in Croatia and designed in a circular shape resulting in an intricate and sculptural piece.

At the end of February, the first leg of the adventure saw Jack Badger’s managing director, Ben Naylor, and technical design and carpentry specialist, Rob Edwards, travel to Croatia to meet Studio Mackereth and select the timber. As Rob hasn’t flown for several years, due to environmental reasons, the Jack Badger team took the train, spending 24 hours travelling there – with breakfast in London, lunch in Paris and dinner in Munich – then after a 13-hour stop in Croatia, another 24 hours travelling back.

Precision cuttingPrecision cutting

Ben explained: ‘One of the features of the design is the varying shades, with lighter, younger wood fading into the darker, older wood. As the tree trunks had been trapped in the river bed for centuries – some for longer than 8,000 years – the decomposition and petrification of the wood results in colour alteration. The shades varied from golden brown to completely black, making it the perfect material for the design.’

Once the wood was back in the Glossop workshop, it took six days of sorting and grading to ensure there was enough suitable timber to complete the project before one piece was even cut. The circular design was made up of 106 separate segments, each of which was cut to a 3.6 degree angle.

Because the team was working in multiples of such high numbers, they couldn’t afford to be a fraction of a millimetre out otherwise the intricate and circular nature of the design would fail. Given that Jack Badger only uses traditional carpentry techniques and tools, with equipment in the workshop dating back to the 1920s, this was a challenge.

‘There were quite a few obstacles along the way, but we overcame these by creating our own tools – including a hand-operated mechanism which uses a swinging motion – to measure angles and create the perfect arc,’ said Ben. ‘All the ideas we had along the way were theory based – we only had three and a half weeks from the wood arriving in the workshop to completing the bar in time to be shipped to the exhibition, so we didn’t have time to test these out beforehand. Thanks to the ingenuity, skill and hard work of the team though, it all worked out.

The team starts to assemble the designThe team starts to assemble the design

‘It was an intense few weeks as we worked day and night to finish the project in time. Between a team of nine people we clocked up over 2,000 hours to get the work done! We had a lot of support from friends, family and people in the local area as well – people visited our workshop with hot meals and homemade cakes to keep us going, for which we’re really appreciative.’

The Jack Badger team’s persistence and hard work meant they successfully completed the bar in time and Ben travelled to Milan to see it in all its pride and glory. The bar was met with much praise from the industry, with the editor-in-chief of Wallpaper* magazine Tony Chambers stating: ‘Without exaggeration – this is one of the best projects I’ve ever been fortunate to be a part of...And I’ve been around a while!’

As a result of the project and exhibition, the Jack Badger team has achieved great exposure and opportunities. ‘I’ve been invited to all kinds of amazing events and met so many interesting people since the exhibition,’ said Ben. ‘I was invited to a dinner at Hampton Court hosted by Royal Salute, I’ve presented to some top London architects – including Carmody Groarke and Holland Harvey – and I’ve even sat in the royal box at the Coronation Cup polo match. We’re also hopeful the bar will win us one or two awards, which would be fantastic recognition of the team’s hard work.’

As for the bar itself, the sponsor Royal Salute is taking it to a number of international events, including in Hong Kong and Singapore. ‘It’s hard to believe that our work is going to be seen by people all over the world, it really is,’ said Ben. ‘The whole experience was a rollercoaster from start to finish – but it’s the best project we’ve ever been involved in and I’m so grateful that we’ve been given such a unique opportunity.’

The Neolithic Bar in Milan as Royal Salute celebrates British design and craftsmanship at The Wallpaper* Handmade Exhibition in April  Photo Claudio Lavenia  Getty ImagesThe Neolithic Bar in Milan as Royal Salute celebrates British design and craftsmanship at The Wallpaper* Handmade Exhibition in April Photo Claudio Lavenia Getty Images

For more information about Jack Badger, visit www.jackbadger.co.uk.

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