Having apprenticed with a boat builder, and worked under the highly respected Mathew Bray and Matthew Collins, Rory founded Stride & Co. in 2017. ‘The ethos is very personal,’ he explains. ‘We maybe only make 15 to 20 pieces a year – but each one is very considered, very unique.’
That emphasis on personality has encouraged Rory to keep the company small-scale. ‘We’re a two or three man band,’ he reflects. ‘I’m still on the tools, I’m out finding work, designing, sourcing materials – the whole process really. I’m involved from beginning to end.’ While crafting very contemporary pieces, Rory maintains a refreshingly old-fashioned attitude.
What’s more, the nineteenth-century grain barn that Stride & Co. calls home seems to epitomise Rory’s mentality. ‘Everything about the space encourages slow and considered work,’ he tells us. ‘There’s no humdrum outside, it’s very peaceful, it’s very much in my pace. I never rush, I always think about things – probably for far too long – but it’s right for me. In there, alone with materials, and the tools with which to process them, I just couldn’t be happier.’
Clearly, Rory’s assiduousness – and his ability to look towards the past while keeping one eye on the future – made him a natural fit for the Chelsea Barracks development. He’s handcrafted four magnificent pieces: campaign benches, bedside tables, side tables and writing desks. ‘We looked at old campaign-style furniture, to have that military link with the barracks,’ he explains. ‘We’ve tried to retain as much antiquity as possible, while making it relevant to the barracks, which is ultimately a modern space for modern people.’ The bedside tables, for example, were crafted in a traditional style, with tapered legs and a fluted facade. Yet Rory, has incorporated clever contemporary touches: ‘There’s a slide-out drawer for an iPhone charger to fit in. We’re modernising it.’
Indeed, the consideration that has gone into these pieces is remarkable. ‘Someone might look at the desk and say, ‘It’s very simple’,’ Rory reflects. Yet, it has been constructed from a single piece of oak, so the grain flows continuously. ‘We get perfect grainflow around the desk, which looks really simple but isn’t so easy to try and achieve accurately.’ Charmingly, the drawer boxes have been made using as little material as possible. ‘Back in the day, if you had to mill each piece of timber with a handsaw, you’d want to get as many pieces of furniture out of that as you could,’ he explains. Behind each individual detail is a meticulous thought process. Collier Webb were drafted in to craft escutcheons, keys and lion-claw feet: nothing has escaped Rory’s eye.
His part in the process is coming to an end: after months of diligent work, the benches – which Rory describes as the most complicated things he has ever made – are finally ready to be caned and upholstered. ‘I’m really looking forward to people sitting on them and getting some feedback,’ he smilingly says, safe in the knowledge that these pieces have an especially bright future. ‘I always like my furniture to sit sympathetically alongside the interior, and working with Albion Nord I know that will be the case. Their interiors are never shouty, never loud; they’re timeless, there to last. Everything is made with complete integrity and sense of place – I’m sure that no pieces of furniture have ever been considered as much as these have. At the end of this process, I know I couldn’t have given any more to these pieces, and I hope that comes across.’