Our latest Business Blog sees us chat to local furniture makers, Wicked Mata, ahead of the opening of their new workshop and showroom.
Who are Wicked? What do you guys do?
At Wicked Mata we make live edge and reclaimed furniture – predominantly dining tables, but we also make coffee tables and wall art pieces. We keep everything under one roof, so we design, build and finish everything all in-house, which means we can also work on bulk or bespoke orders with no trouble.
How long have you been in Letchworth?
We’ve been based on Icknield Way for nearly 6 years – first on Ascot Industrial Estate, and now we’ve spanned across two buildings on the main road.
We’ve noticed you’re refurbing a new premises, what’s going on there?
Around October last year, the building next door to us suddenly became available to rent. The two buildings share a yard, so it was an appealing prospect even without anything to put in it – but we had the crazy notion to completely gut and refurbish it as a showroom for our tables. We were running out of room in the workshop to store some of our ‘In Production’ pieces, so it seemed like the natural next step for us. It’s been quite the project, but now we’re finally opening on Friday 14th September – and we can’t wait.
Is there potential for it to be used by the community as well?
Absolutely – we have pretty lofty dreams for this showroom of ours! The tables are actually just a tiny slice of what we want to create, and we want the showroom to really root us in the surrounding area. We’ve built a photography cove inside the showroom, which we’ll be renting out, and we can picture the building as a venue for local artists’ exhibitions, networking events, local debates, or simply somewhere that the people of Letchworth may fancy a coffee and a browse around from time to time. It’s really exciting to us to get involved with our local community.
Where do you source your materials from to make your furniture?
Our live edge tables are all crafted from kiln dried (furniture grade) slabs, which we go hunting for ourselves. Originally they may have come anywhere in the world, but it’s important to us to develop relationships with British sawmills, who really have an eye for fantastic timber. Our reclaimed tables are all made out of floorboards stripped from decommissioned boxcar freight trains – which we get shipped over to us by the container load. The character in the wood is just incredible; all of the knocks and scars it’s captured from trundling up and down the American railroads are preserved and celebrated beautifully. It’s a really unique product.
How many pieces of furniture do you typically make in a year, where do they eventually end up geographically speaking?
That’s pretty hard to say – just last week we had an order for 30 desks to be sent to Paris; but of course not every week goes quite that well! We have supplied tables all over the world, but we tend to stick to UK deliveries as we’re getting older and wiser. These huge live edge slabs are a little too precious to leave in a shipping company’s hands!
How did you/Toby/Wicked get in to woodwork/carpentry?
Toby started with a sheer passion for the craft, which led to years of working as an apprentice, and then finally starting to make his own tables nearly 10 years ago. It was while he was living in Colorado that he discovered the reclaimed boxcar timber – which kicked off a real craving to work with truly unique pieces of wood.
There’s a growing collection of original organisations springing up in Letchworth, what would you put that down to?
Letchworth may have been overlooked in favour of ‘cooler’ local towns in the past, but there’s something really special about this place, and it’s finally starting to bubble up to the surface. The town has a real history, which means its character and personality are also real – which leads to a surge of creative thought once people start connecting with it. We think that connection is getting really strong now.
If you were to create a sculpture that symbolises Letchworth, what would it be?
Not quite sure about a sculpture per se – but a new message would be great to hear. The garden city thing was perfect a hundred years ago, but it doesn’t really capture the modern, creative heart of the town. A vibrant and positive message can do a lot!
What are the longer term goals or plans for the Wicked team?
Quite simply, to grow together and support one another whilst we are fortunate enough to do so.
Come and see us as we open up the doors to our new showroom on Friday 14 September. The party gets started from noon and we can't wait to show off the place. You'll find us on Icknield Way, Letchworth, SG6 1EX. Visit our website or find us on Facebook to find out more about Wicked Mata.