Sebastian Cox on his favourite possession

The British bespoke furniture designer on a school project that sparked a love of making

sebastian cox
Justin Sutcliffe

My parents started a business restoring medieval buildings before I was born. They weren’t trained in historic architecture, and would frequently visit the Weald & Downland museum in Sussex to learn how the area’s medieval timber-framed buildings were made, so they might accurately restore them.

I was taken along on almost every trip, and soaked up more than I ever would have thought.

When I was about 16, I decided I’d make a model of one house called Bayleaf for my GCSE design and technology coursework, to aid architects’ understanding of timber-framed buildings. I constructed it from oak at school, while my classmates tackled MDF CD racks. It was one of the first complex things I had made.

My friends took the piss out of me relentlessly for making this thing and kept hiding it before each lesson – I’ve always been late and they took advantage of that! Really, it’s astonishing I finished it, considering I probably spent as much time searching for it in the classroom of my lawless secondary school tech lessons as I did making it.

I had to think long and hard about my chosen object for this page, and while my axe, chisels and santoku knife all are dear to me and facilitate a wonderful everyday existence, none are truly irreplaceable like the model house.

It reminds me of the influence my parents had on what I do today, and brings back the smell of oak shavings in their framing yard as a tiny tot, when I’d play in the rain-drenched dust as carpenters shaved scarf joints with chainsaws. I still visit Bayleaf, and even named a collection after it.

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