A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to meet Steve (socially distanced of course!) at his Overwrought workshop and studio on Station Road in Uppingham.
Steve has been in the metalwork industry creating unique designs for over 30 years. His creativity and talent has enabled Steve to create some marvellous designs from mild steel including; staircases, balconies, beds, furniture, gates, bespoke art and much more.
With years of experience under his welding helmet, Steve can create almost anything from metal and you may have already seen or used a few of his creations around Rutland.
This little quote sums Steve and Overwrought up quite perfectly, "There is no substitute for experience".
Steve's speciality is creating bespoke staircases and balconies to match. But a common misconception (with shopping small and local) is that 'bespoke breaks the bank' - which is far from the truth. Because, believe it or not, a completely handmade, totally bespoke staircase (metal balustrades including handrail) from Overwrought could be yours for a fraction of what you're thinking...
I interviewed Steve to find out more about the history of Overwrought, more about his talent, some of his crazy creations from over the years, how much a bespoke Overwrought creation will cost you and much more...
Take a read!
1. Firstly, Steve, Overwrought has been running now for 30 years and you’ve installed your designs all over the country, please tell us some background about how Overwrought was born?
Overwrought has been going since 1991, so that’s about 30 years. Prior to that, I was originally involved in the family business based in Leicester which has been operating since 1957 and still successfully running with my brother at the helm. The family business is well known for making gates and staircases as well, but in a different way, these staircases are very much mail-ordered production, not the one-off designs that I produce here at Overwrought in Rutland.
I was really keen to get a bit more involved in the bespoke and arty design and manufacture so I came out of our Leicester company in the early 90s. I started Overwrought Ltd and opened a small shop in the Silver Arcade in Leicester. Then, Overwrought progressed to a High Street shop which was on Queens Road in Leicester and then the shop seemed to slow down as the market and buying habits changed. At that point, I moved into advertising online instead via my website www.overwrought.co.uk and moved to a larger workshop in Uppingham to concentrate more on staircases.
Since then business has been booming with commissions across the country but also a lot of local work in Rutland and Leicestershire which is what I love the most.
2. You’re quite the creative aren't you Steve? Where do you get the inspiration from for your work and innovative designs?
Yes, I am quite a creative person. I was fairly good at art school and always been interested in design. I’ve always had a great interest in Gaudí and even did a Gaudí design for the Galaxy Bar in Leicester, which I believe is still there. I’ve also been influenced by Mackintosh, he did a lot of work in Glasgow; I love that sort of modern contemporary look I’m also very much into Art Deco and Art Nouveau.
If you check out some of my designs on the website you’ll be able to see elements if these inspiration in many of my designs.
3. You can create almost anything out of metal and have worked on some amazing structures for staircases, home, garden and more. Please tell us more about the range of products you can design and manufacture?
Well, design and materials can be so varied, a client might say to me 'I want simple design' or perhaps 'Gaudí or Mackintosh inspired' or maybe 'contemporary and modern'. Some clients may have dreams of a really artistic and flamboyant design, so I always listen to my clients ideas and try to come up with a design as unique as them and their home or garden.
Some of the types of products we specialise in are metal staircases, gates, fencing, garden structures, furniture like chairs, tables and beds and also security gates. Again, these can be traditional, simple, practical, modern or flamboyant in design. A staircase or a bed (or any of the above) can be applied into that individual design process as Overwrought is a bespoke mild steel manufacturer.
4. One of the questions I get asked most about shopping from small businesses locally is ‘yes, but I bet it’s expensive?’ - but once again, it’s quite the opposite. Steve, your work is not only unique and handmade but you design your creative metalwork on an affordable budget for customers too. Please tell us more about some of your favourite pieces from over the years and the kinds of costs/timescales our readers can expect?
Yes, this is a common misconception. You can have a beautiful and unique bespoke metal staircase for less than you might think. Our handmade metal balustrades including handrail start at £999 for a typical 13 step staircase.
An Overwrought staircase can cost anything from £200 a metre, to £350 a metre, even up to £800 a metre. But nearly all my work is around £350 a metre. This gives you a varied range of styles to choose from. Most of the work takes between two and six weeks. Not many of our projects take longer than six weeks.
5. Can you tell us a bit more about the process for readers interested in having their own bespoke staircase designed, manufactured and installed?
So the process; the client will call me and say, they’re looking for something flamboyant or something to have a 'wow factor' as they open the front door. So, I ask them to give me a rough idea of the size of the staircase and then I can give them an approximate price. If they’re happy with that, then I go to the location, meet the client, measure up and come up with some design ideas and drawings. Once the materials and design are finalised I take a small deposit and then start production by hand in my workshop in Uppingham, usually within a month or so the staircase will be ready for installation.
6. Looking through your portfolio of staircases over the years, they’re all so different! Can you share with us some of the different options and styles available when customers are looking for their dream staircase?
A client will contact me and perhaps they want something that gives them a natural feel, they might be inspired by their garden and want the garden bringing into the home. There is a fairly popular design I do, which is a leafy twiggy nature-inspired design which you can see on the website.
Probably the most popular design I do is in the classic range, which is a little bit scrolly and a little bit leafy. It’s classical, but a rich and easy to live with feel. You would think that black would be the most popular colour which is the most classic colour that metalwork would be finished in, but in fact, graphite grey seams to be the best colour as it fits in most homes and most surroundings and it’s got a less heavy feel to it.
7. When I was lucky enough to explore your workshop, it was brimming with many of your unique creations. You’ve had quite a career with a varied line of work including artwork, furniture, lighting and even a chair made for the National Lottery! Can you share with us a few of your favourite designs and the inspiration behind them? Big and small!
A bed design tends to be more classical and peaceful, so it sits well in people’s bedrooms. Whereas, if I’m making garden furniture, I tend to make it flamboyant, or perhaps more in keeping with its surroundings, so it might look like a branch on of tree or garden-inspired.
Some people tend to come to me because they want something that is different from the norm and different to what they would usually see/buy from a garden centre. This is especially the case with beds too. I make beds that are original, a typical bed in furniture shops tends to be mass-produced, so the quality of the material is compromised. For example, mass-produced pieces are done with 1.5mm thick metal and I work with 3mm thickness metal for my bespoke designs.
The National Lottery Chair was an idea I had from watching the lottery show, thinking that actually, people would like to sit in a chair and choose the numbers at the same time. I tend to make bespoke furniture, bespoke staircases, bespoke beds, bespoke gates and garden structures in a way that nobody else is doing.
8. Thank you again for sharing the story of Overwrought with us on the blog, I cannot wait to find our next property now so I can have my very own Overwrought design of my own. Going forward, I always ask, what are the plans for the future of Overwrought?
Where I see Overwrought going is similar to where I’ve been going for the last 10 years. Perhaps the only change is that I’m trying to keep my business more local and expand to doing more projects within a 30-mile radius of Uppingham, where my factory is located.
I aim to offer local people what they are looking for with my bespoke metal designs making them more connected with their home and surroundings.
Shop Local Quiz: Support local businesses in the area:
Favourite place for brunch/lunch? The Wheatsheaf in Oakham.
Somewhere or something you’ve missed doing locally in lockdown? Enjoying a beer and company at the pub.
No.1 spot for an evening meal? The Black Horse at Elton.
Where do you love to shop? Uppingham & Stamford supporting local businesses.
Favourite coffee house? I’m not a coffee drinker, it’s tea for me.
Perfect place for a day out? Boating on the River Nene.
Local brand or business you admire? Rutland Antiques & Art Centre is great place to browse and find some unique items and art.
Favourite fact about the area? Welland Viaduct is the longest masonry viaduct across a valley in the UK, completed in 1878 it has 82 arches and is 1.16km long – pretty impressive!
Unit 5, Station Road
Rutland, LE15 9TX
T: 01572 823 870
M: 07976 927017
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