After graduating from Parnham College of Furniture Makers, Sean Sutcliffe had the ambition of launching his own furniture workshop, and was inspired by his travels around Denmark to bring industry and employment to a rural community. It was at this time that Sean met Terence Conran and a firm friendship was made over a shared interest in furniture making and design.
Sean and Terence founded Benchmark in 1984 with an ambition to make small production runs of innovative, modern English furniture. On a converted farm near the village of Kintbury in West Berkshire, with just three employees, we started making prototypes and small batches of furniture for the Conran Shop and subsequently Heals and then moved into making furniture and fittings for restaurants and hotels after working on some London's most talked about restaurants of their day including Bibendum and Quaglinos. Commissions followed for high profile commercial projects such as the "Gherkin" and Vodafone World Headquarters as well as public buildings such as the National Gallery, Natural History Museum, the Sage and the Eden Project.
Today, still on the original site, Benchmark has grown to include the calf sheds and the barns that have now been converted into 35,000 square feet of workshops for timber milling, carpentry , specialist metalworking and upholstery as well as a full service design studio and furniture showroom. We employ over 50 designers and craftsmen and run an award winning apprentice training programme which has enabled us to train our own craftsmen and instil our values and beliefs.
We now make and sell our own furniture collection and as one of the leading woodworkers in the UK, we enjoy working with many of the world's top architects and designers on a range of projects, fitting and furnishing offices, hotels, bars, restaurants and public buildings.