From facing some of the UK’s top entrepreneurs in Dragons’ Den back in 2007, to gracing our TV screens this summer on Channel 4’s Shed of The Year and Kirstie Allsopp’s Fill Your House For Free, you can’t have missed Max McMurdo.
Max started his renowned upcycling business ‘reestore’ in 2003 as a reaction to mass consumption. Since then, his creations which include the Max bathtub sofa, Annie shopping trolley chair and the Jeremy V8 coffee table, have won the hearts of the nation and helped inspire the hugely popular trend of upcycling. His work has been commissioned by The Body Shop and Google’s head offices, and he recently won a coveted gold award at the Chelsea Flower Show with Kate Gould Gardens.
Max’s eye for finding beauty in the most unusual of places has led to him winning a legion of fans who can’t wait to see his next creation. Between attending the UK’s award-winning Festival of Thrift in Darlington, where he created a shed from Cuprinol tins and pallets, and working on top-secret new projects, we managed to catch up with Max to ask him about his inspiration, home life and what’s next for the upcycling genius.
reestore was set up in 2003 and you’ve had one hell of a journey since then – tell us a bit about how the company has evolved.
reestore started out as a dream and a bit of a hobby, the order books were filling up nicely by 2007 when I appeared on the den, since then it has grown rapidly and the additional TV opportunities have completely changed the business.
You pitched your business into Dragons’ Den – we imagine that was pretty scary, but you won the hearts of Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis. How has their involvement helped the company?
The Dragons’ involvement was a complete game changer, in many ways their involvement makes you raise your own standards too – you also have their experience and the ultimate contacts lists!
Home is a sentimental place for many, which pieces of furniture in your home mean the most to you?
I have a lovey eclectic mix of charity shop bargains, skip finds and my own upcycled designs but my favourite is my mum and dad’s old g-plan coffee table.
You’re a renowned upcycler and recycler, how does this feature in your home?
My cottage isn’t completely full of my creations and I think it would give me a headache if it was to be honest! As with all good design I think the key is a balance of textures, materials and styles. I haven’t deliberately tried to upcycle in my home but naturally that theme is very evident!
What is the design process for your creations?
My design process has actually developed over the years, initially I would find scrap and let it dictate the design but in the last few years I’ve found myself thinking more commercially and sourcing appropriate junk to fulfil the design brief.
How do you get the inspiration for your pieces?
I think I just look at the world in a different way; I see beautiful forms in the weirdest of places and love the idea of taking objects out of context and reinventing them.
What’s been your most ambitious project?
I am embarking on my most ambitious project as we speak but it’s a bit top secret – I can tell you however it’s big! I am so lucky to be involved in some incredible projects as a result of working in TV.
Tell us about a typical working day
I don’t have any such thing as a working day, some days I’m lifting bath tubs, loading vans and sanding stuff, others I’m filming all day or public speaking – occasionally I get to sit down and design too! Those are the things I love most about my work – the variety.
What’s in-store for Max and reestore in the future?
The main thing I’m going to continue doing is saying yes to every opportunity! This gets me in lots of trouble but also creates loads of amazing opportunities, I love reestore and hope that I one day leave a legacy to be proud of.
One last question…Tell us what home means to you.
I’ve only ever had two homes, I lived in my family home all my childhood and I still live in the first cottage I bought. Both of those places are special to me for different reasons but I’d say, character, uniqueness and a sense of calm are what make me feel at home.