Talking furniture with master craftsman Andris Susts
At Fascino our leading furniture craftsman Andris Susts is one of the best in his field. His work has adorned everything from sky bars to palaces, and he regularly pushes the boundaries to create top-class fixtures for Fascino roster of clients.
We recently sat down with him to talk business, talent and the joy he finds in his work:
How long have you been making furniture Andris?
I’ve been making furniture since I was 16 years old. I started as an apprentice in a factory making standard upholstered furniture, where I learnt all the different elements that make up the furniture-making process – things like joinery, foam cutting and gluing, spring typing, upholstery and sewing.
I worked there for three years before I joined a company called Taps Ltd in Riga, another upholstered furniture manufacturer.
Why did you decide to launch your own business?
I chose to found my company because I want both to work for, and challenge, myself. I had all the experience and all of the expertise, so I thought – why work for someone else when I can do it myself?
I started with furniture upholstery and refurbishment, and then I moved into making brand new furniture for my customers.
How did you end up making such beautiful, diverse and sophisticated furniture?
Only with time, practice and more practice! I’ve been making custom-made furniture for over 30 years now!
Fascino can produce almost any kind of furniture – how does it work? What’s the secret behind your ability to design any kind of upholstered furniture at such a high standard?
I think it’s just all about my deep passion for my profession. It’s difficult to explain properly – I just have a deep connection and understanding about designing, crafting and creating furniture. It’s the product of learning, practicing and developing as a craftsman over many years.
But both myself and my team are always evolving and always improving our skills. We’re learning new ways to improve the construction, to work with new materials and to make each piece of furniture even more sustainably manufactured. We’re also developing new techniques for assembly to make our furniture more comfortable.
So if the furniture is unique and custom-made, how can you be sure the customer will be satisfied with the end-product?
Well, there are a few ways you can be sure. If the customer is a repeat customer, he already knows about the quality of our furniture – he knows that we’ll stop at nothing to meet his requirements, so it’s just a matter of trust.
As for new customers, when they visit our showroom, they can clearly see the world-class quality which gives them an idea of what to expect. Trust is hugely important to us, both for new and existing clients. During the ordering process, we go through every single detail, and even throughout the manufacturing phase, we can still discuss elements with the client to make sure the result matches their expectations.
We know that custom-made furniture isn’t cheap – but is there a way for you to adapt to the customer’s budget? For example, if a customer comes to you and says that they want a sofa, but they only have a budget of £ 1000?
In that scenario, I would offer them the best possible option for the budget. It would all come down to the materials we would use for the build – for example, the price of fabric varies and there are different fillings like pocket springs, memory foam, down or feather fillings and so on. We would combine different options to meet the price requirements to match the quality.
Does that mean that two visually similar sofas could be different prices depending on the materials you use?
Yes, absolutely! There could be differences in comfort depending on the filling, such as the feeling when you sit on the sofa. By contrast, the sustainability aspect would be more or less the same.
That’s good to know, thanks! So what kind of furniture do you like making the most?
I love to make interesting and difficult furniture, the kind of furniture that is unique and challenging to create.
Who is your main client base?
My main clients are interior designers and architects – we work with a large number of them on a regular basis. They know the quality of our furniture and they know what we can do – so they can be sure that we’ll always create the best possible end-product.
What’s the best moment in your work?
The best part, or the best moment, of any job is when the project is finished – when both me and the customer are happy with it. It’s the feeling of a job well done! I also love to have a client come back with positive feedback – that’s a really big deal to me.
Are there times when you disagree with client choices? When you offer a different solution to the one they have in mind?
Yes, there are situations like that. Sometimes it’s a matter of size – for instance, we made furniture for a pizzeria on one project, but from our perspective, the seat size was too small to be comfortable or functional.
We don’t only take the order, we go deep into the detail, providing clients with our professional and expert advice to ensure our products are perfectly designed.
In general, what would you suggest your customers consider before they order custom-made upholstered furniture?
First of all, think about the dimensions and the available space. Then consider whether it’s a retail commercial or a residential space, and if it is residential, remember to think about children or pets at home.
We feature a wide range of fabric for our furniture but if a client comes in with their own fabric they’d like to use, it’s important that that fabric is suitable for furniture upholstery. For shaped designs, it’s crucial that the fabric stretches at least in one direction.
What is the main reason to order bespoke furniture?
The biggest reason is that bespoke furniture is built to an exact size and made to fit an exact space.
Secondly, it’s all about quality and sustainability. When I make furniture for someone, I think of the needs of the customer so that it meets their exact requirements. Every detail is carefully considered – the result is control and everything is handmade. You just don’t get that when with factory-made mass-manufactured products. Customer satisfaction with every single detail is the most important thing.
For every piece of custom furniture, I put in every ounce of positive energy I have – I do it all with love.
Andris’ work has enchanted and impressed clients across a spectrum of industries and sectors, delivering quality time and time again. His passion for good design shines through for every project for each of our projects.
If you’re looking for world-class custom furniture for your home or business, we’d love to hear from you!