Could you please tell us a little about your backgrounds pre-OOTW?
Alex and I set up a workshop around six years ago in Bristol, which is now home to eight cabinetmakers, including ourselves. We had worked independently for several years making furniture for private clients, and formed OOTW (Out of the Woodwork) in 2015.
Alex trained at both The Boat Building Academy and with Chris Faulkner at his fine furniture school in South Devon. My background was more design led, having graduated with a BA in Industrial Design, I went on to do a three year furniture-making course in Bristol.
Having worked in bars and restaurants in Bristol and Birmingham since the age of 18 gave us a good contact list before the company was formed.
How did OOTW come to be?
I had a project for a new bar opening in the city; it was too large to do by myself, so Alex and I worked together on it and from then on decided to focus our energies together. We won our first contract to do a large external seating area at The Gallimaufry in Bristol, and from there OOTW began.
Alex and I agree and disagree in equal measures which leads us naturally to having a similar outlook on aesthetic and design. Alex and I share an equal passion for woodworking, designing and making original things.
How would you describe OOTW’s design philosophy/approach?
We strive to be different and create original work, not for the sake of being different but to push our own design boundaries and hopefully introduce some exciting and new ideas to our clients.
We approach each project individually; we always try to inject our bar and restaurant designs with their own personality and character. We look to make a balanced space that fundamentally works well. With 12 years of bar experience I know how great a well designed bar can be and how the opposite can effect trade.
We use a combination of online resources, books, and a constantly evolving sample wall of new materials and finishes that always lead to new ideas and concepts.
Could you tell us about a recent hospitality project you’ve completed?
The last two large projects we have completed have been Wild Beer at the end of last year, and Le Poivrot a few months ago. Both have a very different dynamic.
Wild Beer has an industrial/agricultural ruggedness, inspired by its brewery in Shepton Mallet. We used lots of steel cages, some suspended over 4m, sapele tables frames, topped in Shou Sugi Ban-inspired scorched ash tops to form a run of three 3m dining tables reminiscent of German beer halls. The 5m bar is fronted with birch plywood fish scales that have a flash of green along their bottom edge. A concrete bar top helps to finish the look.
With Le Poivrot, the brief was to create a French wine bar. The concept was to create a beautiful space, that felt as if it had been around for decades but with a fresh feel to it. We chose to mix a colourful palette with architectural plasterwork, fine detailed steelwork, high level storage with brass doors, custom banquettes, and leather stools.
For both bars, we designed and installed custom speaker systems. We use full range drivers from Mark Audio in our own designed boxes. For Wild Beer we put them into the ducting running around the ceiling and for Le Poivrot, green Valchromat created an eye-catching speaker that complements the rest of the colour scheme.
Could you describe why OOTW is such a great fit for the hospitality sector?
OOTW has expanded and now has a diverse portfolio, which centres around commercial work. Our skill set, knowledge of the industry, varied use of materials and an ability to source, or failing that, fabricate almost anything means there isn’t much we can’t tackle.
Could you talk about your new furniture range, Birch?
Birch is our first range of furniture. We wanted to offer the customer choice; with four different configurations, handles, legs and materials for door/drawer fronts – the sideboard alone has 256 variations. It’s built around birch plywood, but we always wanted to use this material in a sympathetic manner and using it for its strength and beauty.
The range was designed to have clean simplistic lines that highlight the customers choice of fronts, almost acting like a picture frame. We carefully chose all of the different customisable options to work together and throughout the different pieces.
We are working on expanding the range, and currently have a sideboard, large and small media units, and a tallboy on the way. We are looking to release a few new products each year under Birch.
What would be your dream hospitality project?
Fitting out a boutique hotel is high on both of our dream job lists. It would be an amazing challenge; making each room individual whilst retaining a natural flow throughout the entire building. It would allow us to develop some really interesting ideas and some beautiful cabinetry.
What do you envisage for OOTW going forwards?
We are currently diversifying our portfolio and have some exciting new ideas in our heads! We want to expand our commercial portfolio, and still love the challenge of designing and building bars and restaurants. We are always looking for new and interesting projects to work on.
We are hoping to expand our range of products; these will be aimed at both the commercial and domestic markets. Next year we are releasing Ore, which is a highly engineered range made with Krion/Valchromat and powder-coated steel.
We will also be pushing Birch forward and taking it to some European design shows after our successful launch at London Design Fair in September this year.