Table talk with bespoke furniture maker, Mike Whittall of Ochre & Wood

Using Scottish wood and inspired by nature, Mike Whittall is creating furniture that stands out. A career tax consultant of some 25 years, he swapped his ledger for his lathe last year to establish bespoke furniture company, Ochre & Wood.

Mike Whittall-104







What was the catalyst for setting up Ochre & Wood?

I was turning 50. I had a great job with great people, but I really felt I had something more in me to give. I love physically making a product, something enduring that someone will enjoy and love. My wood work was a hobby confined to evenings and weekends, so I rarely had the time or creative space to explore ideas in depth and push the boundaries. I felt the time was right to give it a go full time.

How did you make a passion a profession?

I did a nine-month course at the Chippendale International School of Furniture in East Lothian. Winning the Portfolio of the Year Award gave me the conviction I needed to follow my creative instincts. I then renovated an old steading building into a workshop and started taking commissions.

What’s your style?

I don’t consciously follow a design style, but I enjoy curves and love to bring movement into my designs. I love music, and like music, I feel the lines of furniture should connect and flow and this is what I look for when designing a piece. I like each piece to make a creative statement, but I also believe it’s important for any piece of furniture to be functional to have a place in someone’s home or office. You could call it functional art.

What materials do you use?

I use Scottish wood as much as possible as it has lovely grain patterns and rich colours. It also has the advantage of lower ‘wood miles’ than wood sourced from abroad. Species such as spalted beech or rippled sycamore really stand out and add interest or emphasis to a piece.

What makes the furniture you create special?

The customer plays a key part in designing the piece just as they want it, and this makes it uniquely personal to them. In some cases, they choose to have a piece made using wood from their garden or estate so adding further meaning to the end product.

What do you love most about your change in career?

The creative fulfilment. The views, the lunchtime walks across open fields, the commute across the yard…

What would your soapbox speech be?

Waste. Why do we waste so much food, throw away clothes and furniture? Buy good quality for the longer term then mend, upcycle, pass on! It’s great to see the Repair Cafés that are popping up at the moment.

If I wanted to commission a piece of furniture, what do I need to do?

Talk to me about what you would like and b between us ideas will develop. I then put together some sketches and we work together until we have a design that you really love.

What is next for Ochre & Wood?

A bespoke kitchen in a coastal property, incorporating subtle features to reflect the location, such as tone and ripples. I am also launching woodworking courses from this Spring, for small groups of 2-4 people so they can be tailored to experience. Between the hard graft will be lovely country walks and lots of homemade cake!

For further information see or call Mike on 01466 780 611.