An engineer turned personnel manager has quit the corporate world to start his own business creating bespoke wooden items, including a unique range of guitar stands that have proved a hit with ex-Lindisfarne frontman Billy Mitchell.
Dave Foote has based his company U Wood at Longhoughton and is fast gaining a reputation for his one-off pieces, from furniture and decorative artwork to instrument stands.
He works on each concept with the customer, from the design through to the type of wood and finish required.
Originally from London, Dave came north to study engineering at Sheffield University.
After a number of years working as an engineer, he switched careers to corporate HR where he worked with businesses including Centrica and B&Q. He said: “I’ve always had a passion for creativity and enjoy working with wood.
“After 30 years in the corporate world, the time was right to go for it and start up on my own.
“I’m developing a range of products that are much more interesting than you can buy in the shops using my engineering and design experience.”
The wooden acoustic guitar stands are evidence of Dave’s different approach.
Whereas most guitar stands are made from metal or plastic and are very straight and functional, the U Wood stand is beautiful to look at and incorporates an organic shape and a minimalistic style.
He has registered his unique design with the Intellectual Property Office.
He said: “It was a design challenge I set myself and it took 10 months and six prototypes before I got it right.
“The result is an organic, flowing piece and each one is different. The stands are handmade in woods including ash, cherry and elm, and each one is numbered, signed and dated by me.”
As well as guitar stands, Dave produces smaller variations for violins and larger music stands. He has also developed a more robust version for electric guitars and he is currently working on a portable folding model for touring musicians.
The stands, which take many hours to make, will be on show during the Alnmouth Arts Festival on Saturday, June 18, and Sunday, June 19, where people will have the opportunity to meet Dave and find out more about his approach, whether that’s making a music stand or a chest of drawers.
He said: “I like asymmetric objects and things that don’t appear to be what they really are. For me, everything I make is a one-off design. I like to make people look twice.”
One person who did look twice and loved the design is former Lindisfarne frontman Billy Mitchell, an accomplished guitar player and vocalist.
Billy said: “It is a beautiful piece of furniture as well as being functional, and will have pride of place holding my favourite guitar, made for me by local luthier Peter Cook in Cramlington.”
Dave particularly enjoys the design of a piece, seeing it through from concept to the development of the product. The next step for U Wood is finding sympathetic woodworking businesses to produce the guitar stands under licence as the business expands.
Billy and Ray Laidlaw – who was a founder member of Tyneside band Lindisfarne – are touring around the UK as they tell the story of Lindisfarne – performing as either a two-man acoustic show or being joined by The Lindisfarne Story Band.
As part of this, they will be performing at the Holy Island Festival later this month, although places for this gig are sold out.
For more information about the tour, visit the website www.billymitchell.co.uk