Feature Mondays – 20 Minutes with JT Interiors Furniture

Friday 6 July 2018

The business is JT Interiors Furniture, which Justin Twort owns and the furniture is made exclusively by Roland Parkanyi. All items are made from pallet wood and sometimes driftwood from the local shores of Eastbourne and Brighton. Justin and Roland only use untreated pallets and also only use environmentally friendly finishes on their products. They can make anything for your home and garden out of wood – even their workshop is made from pallets! The pair make everything, from kitchen cupboards and units, to dressers and trunks, tables to bookcases, desks to chairs, stools to candle holders.

F&C: What are you working on at the moment?

Justin Twort: We are currently working on a bespoke order of a TV unit and bookcase in a rich walnut (Juglans nigra) finish. It is a small order, but we will take just as much care in this order as we do a large room makeover. I love the design part of the project. The client will tell me what they're after and I will come up with a design to suit the requirements. We recently just finished a large order for a client in Notting Hill. Most of our orders are taken over the phone or via email, enabling clients from all over the UK to have access to our products.

F&C: What's the tool you can't do without?

Roland Parkanyi: The jemmy. It is not really carpenters tool, but I can't do without it. I always disassemble every pallet. It is the first step and it is the hardest. It can take many hours to take apart a pallet, but once this job is done, the fun part begins with the making of the product.

F&C: What's the last piece of equipment you bought?

RP: The most important thing in my job is getting the precise cut, so I have bought a high-quality saw. I mainly use manual tools, not electric as it gives me a more sense of skill and creativity. My work is faster now and every piece of furniture exactly matches each other. It is sometimes really hard as every piece of pallet wood is different.

F&C: Classic piece – nominate a classic piece of furniture from any period – bespoke, mass produced, studio furniture and tell us why it's so special.

JT: I love oriental furniture and have a few pieces in my own home. I love the way they are made with no screws or nails. Pure skill and craftmanship was used to make these items, which sadly, you do not see enough of today.

F&C: Why did you become a furniture maker?

RP: My childhood dream has finally come true. I didn't think that it would until just one year ago when everything changed. I have worked a lot of different things in my life and it was not until I moved to the UK that the dream came true. A big part of that is because of Justin, who I can't do without as he found me by chance and then has worked hard to promote and sell my products. We are now selling from a shop in East Sussex and hopefully moving into a larger workshop in the near future.

F&C: What inspires you?

RP: When I can see the peoples' faces when they see my furniture and the positive feedback from clients, which makes them come back and order again. Putting a smile on peoples faces truly inspires me.

F&C: If your furniture were music, what kind of music would it be?

JT: Inspirational music, a slow piece of classical music leading to a loud crashing crescendo. Our furniture starts off as a tired pallet, slowly being taken apart, but then being built into a beautiful item.

F&C: What do you admire in the craft at the moment?

RP: The freedom, being able to create whatever is in my head and interpret other peoples ideas without being knocked back down for being different. The art of recycling is in at the moment and here to stay.

F&C: Who has been your greatest mentor/role model?

RP: I know this may sound funny, but it is toys. All my life I have admired toys like Lego and Mechano. They have taught me that you can make many different shapes by using the same items. It is all about interpretation and can sometimes also just be a case of a spur of the moment idea, making plans as you go along.

F&C: What comes first, design or technique?

JT: For us, Roland has been building on his technique every time he makes a new item, so it is a constant thing. Obviously, you need to design the item before you can make it, so once the design is complete, Roland will then begin to build, but he may change a few things during the process as it is all part of the learning.

F&C: How or where do you exhibit your work?

JT: Our work is on the website, which I put together and market by myself. We also sell on Etsy, which is everything handmade. We have just recently started doing shows which I absolutely love, it is great to meet the public and talk through what we can do. We are now selling in a shop in East Sussex at Bentley Wildfowl Estate. This has only just started so going into next year this will give us a great opportunity to showcase our new items.

F&C: How comfortable are you with working to someone else's design?

RP: Everything is possible, although not too easy sometimes. As a majority of our clients we do not see face to face due to their location, the design phase is often done through emails and the phone. We do not start the design until the client is happy and we will also send update photos on the design during the process. I do prefer it when I have a free reign and can make to my own style and design.

F&C: What's your creative process like?

RP: My mind is overflowing with ideas and when I get time, I like to put those ideas in to practice and create a new item. Most of the times the new item is a nice surprise for Justin.

F&C: Do you consider yourself an artist or a craftsman?

RP: I do not consider myself as an artist or a craftsman. I am self-taught and just do what I love, because it is my hobby and also that I love doing it, that is the main thing.

F&C: Do you think furniture making is in danger of disappearing?

JT: There are many very good furniture makers in the UK and around the world still, and long may this continue. Many people today will buy the flat packed furniture as it is cheaper, but will it last as long as the traditionally made furniture?