National Apprenticeship Week 2020

— 07 February 2020


Jake joined Modus in 2014 as the guinea pig in our then, newly established, apprenticeship programme. At the time he was the only apprentice on a traditional upholstery course based in Bristol. Although his apprentice days are long gone, Jake is still learning new techniques from David, master of upholstery, with whom he trained six years ago. He spends his time working ‘on the bench’, developing his craft and helping train the apprentices coming through. He is currently working on a new sofa by PearsonLloyd due to launch at the end of March.

How did you come to work at Modus?

“All my friends were getting a trade, learning to be electricians and plumbers, and I saw it in the paper and thought, that sounds alright, upholstery, that looks weird, I’ll give that a go.”

How important do you think it is to pass on skills from one generation to the next?

“Very, otherwise what’s gonna happen?

When Jacob (our latest apprentice) started he was out with me, I was teaching him because it wasn’t that long ago that I was taught myself, so I think I’m quite a good teacher, I enjoy it.”

How far do you hope to go with Modus?

“As far as I possibly can. I have always said that. I’m starting to get more involved with development and by time David and Jerry move on I could take over from them. Personally, I think it’d be great for someone who’s been here to move into that role. It’s great for people to be able to progress in-house rather than bringing someone new in. In five years if Jacob could be doing the CNC…. that would be great.”

You are currently working on a sofa designed by Pearson Lloyd, what have you learnt about the process?

“It’s a lot of trial and error. Right at the beginning the foam set wasn’t right and we were trying to do something but the foundations weren’t right. You’ve got to get it right and build from there. On the bench it’s not like that at all, it has all been worked out. I was patterning with calico, laying it on over the foam and marking it up and transferring onto cardboard. I am learning to pattern cut and that’s completely new for me. I enjoy working with fabric because you get all different types and you can do things with one that you can’t do with another.”

Which do you value most - technological advancement or traditional craftsmanship?

“Both, I mean that cutting machine is a few days’ work in a couple of hours but if you lose traditional skills…there a lot of things like foam kits that our suppliers can’t do by machine that’s where craftsmanship really comes in. You need both, definitely.”

Has your attitude towards furniture changed?

“Totally! Wherever I go I’m sitting on chairs feeling underneath constantly and thinking about what’s inside, the make up of them. I was in this restaurant recently and I was feeling under the seat, trying to see how it was made. “

“When you say you work in upholstery everyone says ‘oh I have this chair....”

Operations Manager Nick has been really impressed with the way iGen apprentices approach the technology involved in the job “These lads and lasses they are brilliant, I don’t know what generation they are now but they are much better than us!”

Modus runs a continuous apprenticeship programme across all aspects of production. If you would like to be considered for a place on our programme please get in touch.