I was born in London Paddington in 1976 and brought up for my first 13 years in a Belgian village in French-speaking Wallonia near Liege.
I spent much of my time in my dad’s shed playing with tools and making houses in the woods. I also loved to play the piano, which was inspired by the Boogie Woogie style of music. Then, when I was 13, I moved back to London and turned half my bedroom into a workshop where I made model planes, cars and took apart anything I could.
I am a very practical person and find it second nature to work things out once put in front of me. I am also very visual and spent 12 years as a prolific photographer taking pictures of happy clubbers in nightclubs for every dance music magazine that ever existed in the UK. This experience taught me aesthetic and composition, which now helps me a great deal when designing our customers furniture.
In 2003 I founded Empatika. I used to ride around Notting Hill with four tools bags hanging off my bike. I used to go to people’s homes and fix anything to do with wood and they were all so pleased with my work.
Me building a wooden glider in my Notting Hill loft bedroom in 1989.
They started to ask me to do bigger, more complicated jobs and it always felt very natural for me. That’s how Empatika became a contemporary fitted furniture company, specialising in all things bespoke.
We mostly work for private clients in London, but I have also designed and built bookcases and storage solutions for Westminster Abbey and TV home makeover programmes such as ITV’s 60 Minutes Makeover and Homes for the Brave on SKY.
I understand the issues people have with lack of storage, because no matter what size house, we never seem to have enough space, right?
It’s simple. I visit your home, talk to you in detail to find out exactly what you need, I measure up all your belongings and really get to know what you want to use your space for. Then I go away, make some scale 3D drawings on the computer and I can also offer you a photo realistic render, so you can see exactly what you will get. Then we get to work to make your dream a reality. That’s it.
The thing that drives me is helping and satisfying others. There is nothing more satisfying to me than getting a top testimonial from a delighted customer, genuinely.
This is a render of a drawing of a fitted TV unit I designed with a customer.
This is an introduction about my path towards creating Empatika. If you really like stories and if you really want to get to know how I tick, here is another much longer one on my personal blog with pictures and videos that goes more into my ecological roots.
So, In 2003, my life took a turn. I put an advert in the local shops advertising as a handyman, people started to call me and I rode around Notting Hill on my bike with my tools and fixed anything to do with wood in people’s homes. I never said no to any request and began to do more built-in furniture. Three or four years later, I took on my first colleague Val, who is still with me today. I put my tools in the loft and took to the computer full time. I started to promote my business more and spent time on designing and marketing, which I love.
In 2011 I wanted something more than what I was doing and I wanted to give more. I found what I was looking for after going to a business event where there were loads of very successful entrepreneurs and they made me feel that I could use my business to change the World. I have always been a big thinker, I am very ambitious and am never satisfied with how things are; I always want to improve everything and make it better for everyone.
I kind of inherited the name Custom Carpentry from a customer. Sadly her husband who was a carpenter doing fitted furniture passed away and she said I could use his name and that she would pass me any enquiries he received. In 2014 I changed the name to Empatika because I wanted to franchise my business around the UK, and with Custom Carpentry not being trademarkable I could not do that. I won a free place with the British Library on a £10,000 course which took me through my whole business and out came the name Empatika, which comes from the word empathy.
That day, one particular speaker made me think. He said: if you had five million in the bank and you could do anything, what would you do? That was what led me to bring out an eco-friendly option for my business. I started researching materials and collecting them, doing blogs about them and even talking in schools. I started to look at the waste we were producing and brought out the Milo series of tables made from waste offcuts. I also produced some pioneering examples of fitted furniture made using the most eco-friendly materials, design and ideas possible at the time.
I also wrote a book about it all called “Furniture for the Future”, “How what you buy can change the World”.
My mission is to ensure the whole fitted furniture industry in the World takes my lead and becomes sustainable as quickly as possible, and on a personal level, to be cited as a pioneer who paved the way. Because I have so much experience, many people come to me asking for all sorts of advice about being more sustainable and I love to share my knowledge.
Tell us about your project
We are happy to discuss your specific needs and help you find the best built-in furniture solution for your space. Please let us now any details ad we will get back with your personalised quote.