Interview: Guy Chenevix-Trench of Antiques by Design

Collection of sporting lamps by Antiques by Design

Morning everyone and happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend and are well rested and prepared for the week ahead. Today, I am bringing you an interview with Guy Chenevix-Trench of Antiques by Design. Operating under the motto “Reclaim, Recycle, Reuse”, Antiques by Design is an innovative company that uses a combination of antiques, reclaimed items and old materials to create beautiful and unique interior and exterior pieces. From reclaimed and restored Victorian and Regency iron and traditional wooden windows, Guy is able to create strikingly distinctive decorative mirrors. He also hand crafts luxury lamps and chandeliers of all sizes from reclaimed sporting and musical memorabilia, antique farming implements, and other unusual and archaic items. I love the quirky designs in his portfolio so I wanted to find out a bit more about Guy and his work.

1920s Recycled galvanised water tank table with glass top by Antiques by Design

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you became involved in antiques?

I was born and bred in the South East of England, where my home and studio are now, but my career has taken me to so many interesting places. I was a North Sea diver for nine years, and then I ran a windsurfing and water sports business in Essex for 17 years before I sold it.

However, I inherited a love of antiques from my grandmother, who herself was an antique dealer, and as a small child she took me along to the antique fairs of Sussex, so a love and appreciation was instilled in me from a young age. When I sold my watersports business, I thought I would give antiques a go, and as my wife is an interior designer, she advised and inspired me too.

Lighting by Antiques by Design

Where did the idea for Antiques by Design come from? What was your inspiration?

I began dealing in straight up antiques, but as I’ve always worked with my hands, I began giving my antiques a quirky twist by adapting them into new household pieces. I remember my first fair with my new ‘Antiques by Design’ – the Grand Design fair in London – and wow, it went down so well I almost sold out of everything! I knew then I had found my niche.

Antique binocular lighting by Antiques by Design

Where do you find all the products that you reclaim, recycle and reuse?

I find them in antique fairs, scrap yards, boot fairs, auctions, skips, just about anywhere!

What are the main processes and techniques that you use to transform the pieces?

In terms of transforming the antiques – that is all in my head to be honest. I don’t set about creating a predetermined collection, when I see beautiful antiques I then visualize how to change it, how to make it useful, different and give it that wow factor.

Antiques by Design Lighting

You also offer a bespoke service and accept commissions. How does this work?

A customer may have seen something that I have made and want something similar, so I can make this to order, or put their individual twist on it. Also, many customers come to me with their own antiques they would like transforming, so I work closely with them on a new design. Interior designers also approach me and the two of us will come up with ideas for a project and I will go away and make pieces for them.

Antique porthole mirror by Antiques by Design

Where can people find Antiques by Design? Do you have a studio or shop?

We have a very large barn in Essex that is my workshop, and it is filled to the brim with hundreds of my designs. I also have a show area in The Old Cinema at 160 Chiswick High Road, Essex, where people can see some of what I make. You can take a look inside my studio via a video on my website too.

Antiques by Design Lighting and Mirror

Will you be exhibiting at any shows or trade fairs this year?

Yes, I recently exhibited at the Decorex Trade Fair at the Royal Hospital Grounds, Chelsea and the Battersea Decorative Antique Fair. I will also be showing at the Spirit of Christmas Fair at Olympia, London from Oct 30-Nov 4.

Antique hunting boot lamp by Antiques by Design

Do you have any exciting plans for the future you can tell us about?

The reason I love my job is that there are always exciting plans, but I never know what they are! I never know what I am going to find or make next. I love finding really special antiques that are beautifully crafted, and then being able to upcycle and recycle them into something special and one-off that nobody else has.

Lamps by Antiques by Design

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  • I am , as always your biggest fan!
    Do you still have the circular window and the oval topped windows of which we spoke at The Battersea Antiques Fair – I think the round one is 1.5 metres in diameter? but cannot find where I wrote the price?
    Also, have you any idea where I would be able to find a half circle >ish, metal balustrade, as the little balconies in Cheltenham seem to have?? also old stone balustrading that does not cost the earth but looks old? Hope you are well and also hope you still have the circular window!
    Jane Pope – (Donnington Designs)

  • Hi Guy I was just browsing and discovered your wonderful website – it has been a LONG time since I was at the Williams at The Old Rectory in Danbury. (I am from New Zealand; now living in Melbourne, Australia.) I wonder how Guy and all the Williams family are. Best wishes Shani