My Life’s Work | Simon Burvill, Co-Founder & Managing Director
In this weekly series, we meet a Walpole member chief executive to discover what makes them tick, how they define success, and what keeps them awake at night. This week, Simon Burvill, Co-founder and Managing Director, Gaze Burvill.
In 1992 Christian Gaze and Simon Burvill founded Gaze Burvill and set out to create the finest outdoor furniture through an honest commitment to design integrity, comfort and craftsmanship, while holding true to their values for respecting and not harming the environment. Both trained with John Makepeace’s Parnham Trust in Dorset, Christian at the School for Craftsmen in Wood, and Simon at Hooke Park College.
Beginning with Christian Gaze’s design for the Court Seat, Gaze Burvill’s collections have developed largely through creating original design solutions to specific customer requests and now encompass furniture for seating, dining, lounging and cooking.
The current facility at Lodge Farm realises a dream for Simon to create a sustainable pieces in a setting truly fitting for the quality of Gaze Burvill’s work.
The business values embrace the best of both cutting edge technologies and fine furniture making traditions, and sustained growth bears testimony to the appeal of this uncompromising approach.
“Our talented in-house design team, combined with the expertise of our craftsmen, allow us to create truly unique pieces, to match any client request.” says Simon. “In 2016, about 40% of our business was custom in one way or another. It is clear our clients want to be able to put their own, unique imprint, onto the project. We are delighted to be able to assist them with that.”
Gaze Burvill regularly exhibit at events around the country and furniture can be viewed in-situ throughout the year – Over 100 pieces are on display at RHS Wisley Gardens.
What does British luxury mean to you?
Ingenuity. Britain is a creative nation with a history of blending aesthetically pleasing designs with engineering excellence. Isambard Kingdom Brunel and UK based Formula 1 teams spring to mind. When people choose to buy British luxury they are choosing to buy a product that is well thought through technically and aesthetically.
What’s your vision for Gaze Burvill?
This is a hugely exciting time for small to medium sized businesses. We have access to technologies previously out of our grasp which impact so many parts of the business from manufacturing to marketing. The challenge is to recognise the changing landscape early, use the new technologies to challenge and push ourselves and surprise our customers with the results.
We want to continually serve the high-end and discerning part of the market, both directly to the private individual as well as growing our presence in luxury hotels/spas and centres of horticultural excellence.
In the medium term, we want to develop a strong reputation internationally.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I like to look forward rather than back. But I’m proudest of moving the company beyond survival into a healthy business and constantly challenging ourselves.
How do you define success?
Feeling you’ve improved not only yourself but others … in ways they might not have realised.
What do you like most about your job?
Learning something new almost daily.
What inspires you?
Richness of human ingenuity and capability. There’s always more to learn.
What was your big break?
I changed course in life three times. But once I found I was working in something I had a real passion for the path was clear to see.
What is your guiding principle?
Treat others as you wish to be treated.
What piece of advice would you give someone entering the luxury industry now?
Don’t compromise. If you don’t think it meets your standards, don’t bring it to the market.