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Peter Bellerby, Founder Of Bellerby & Co. Globemakers Discusses His Craft [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

Jan 14, 2016 03:51 PM EST
Peter Bellerby
(Photo : Courtesy of Bellerby & Co. - Spitafields Life / Peter Bellerby)

The company reviving the art of globe making, Bellerby & Co., is featured in this week's The Scoop.

Businesses that are dedicated to their craft and to creating artisanal product are inspirational. London-based globe-makers, Bellerby & Co. fall into this category. Their painstaking efforts result in the production of an object that becomes more than just a globe, but a rare archetype.

These exclusive one-of-a-kind globes are handmade by a small team of artisans who are dedicated to creating the most up-to-date versions to represent an accurate map of the world today. Each is then personalized and styled at the request of the customer.

Scroll down for more about Bellerby & Co. from founder Peter Bellerby!  


(Photo : Courtesy of Bellerby & Co. - TS Chang / Mini Desk Globe in Progress)


MB: How did Bellerby & Co. come about?

PB: I founded the company following an unsuccessful search for a globe for my father's 80th birthday. I decided to try to make my own after seeing that there were no quality globes being made and none with current and correct maps (besides those horrible plastic ones of course, which are usually incorrect and slightly out of date).

MB: What was the initial sign that propelled you to take an idea and build a brand? 

PB: The entire process was done using trial and error... and I suppose what is most important is there were 4 or 5 eureka moments where things happened that were neither planned nor expected, and they allowed me to take great leaps forward in understanding and working out the process. Had they not happened, I might not be making globes today.

To be honest I had no intention of setting up a company in the beginning, things just got out of control in the process of trying to make my first one!


(Photo : Courtesy of Bellerby & Co. - Gareth Pon / Mini Desk Globes & Livingstone Globes)


MB: What continues to fuel your inspiration and facilitate your growth as globe-makers? 

PB: One thing that does thrill us on a daily basis are the unsolicited testimonials that we get from our customers and the reaction from people who visit our studio. It keeps us feeling like we must be making something that excites people and that people haven't seen before. I am proud that we have found a way to make globes again that people admire and buy for more than function. The feedback from customers gives us continued inspiration and as far as growth, we have taken orders for the end of 2016!


(Photo : Courtesy of Bellerby & Co. - Alun Callender for Homes & Antiques Magazine)


MB: Could you explain the production process.

PB: There is only so much I will never go in to detail about, partially because it is boring (sitting in front of a computer for days, weeks, months until you are happy with something). I spent years of trial and error to get where I am and I hope these skills can be passed down within my family and to the artists I have spent years working with.

However, people can learn more about the process here as well as from this short film which is years old, but gives a glimpse into how we do what we do here.


(Photo : Courtesy of Bellerby & Co. - Andrew Montgomery for Billionaire Magazine)


MB: What is 'that thing' that your clients can rely on from Bellerby & Co.?

PB: Something unique, bespoke, made just for them with a lot of attention to detail and care.

There are factory-made globes with up-to-date cartography at the start of each batch, but when I was searching it really was a struggle to find anyone making high quality globes. Period. I think the interest wasn't there for a period of time, when we started we had no idea if there was a market for them as no one had paid this much for globes in centuries. We edit our cartography daily which is great, it means each globe truly represents the time in which it was commissioned. We can add in places or small towns that are special to our customers that might not otherwise be on that scale of globe or map.


(Photo : Courtesy of Bellerby & Co. - Tom Bunning)


Our globes are built to last, our globes are not a throw-away item, and we build our globes robustly and use the finest materials. The wood is hand turned, the meridians hand-engraved, each globe has many washes of color and passes through many hands before it goes to the customer. They are very personal items that we hope will be passed down within families for generations.


(Photo : Courtesy of Bellerby & Co. - Tom Bunning)

MB: Could you describe what your company culture is like? How do you work as a team?

PB: The team is composed of six full-time staff and a handful of freelancers who come from creative and artistic backgrounds, including two apprentices training for permanent roles within the company. They are really involved -- not just employed to do something without recognition. I teach them everything I can to enable them to be as good a globemaker as they can be and they are involved in the progression of the company.

We have one full-time painter, and then me (Peter) and Jon who is head of production and Jade who does all our social media, marketing and helps with accounts, sales and admin. The two apprentices work full-time and then we have part-time workers including woodwork, brasswork, an engraver, and an accountant...  and Josh who drives and personally delivers all our large globes within the UK and Europe! He has just gotten back from delivering an 80cm globe to Germany. As far as the physical laying of the gores, it is just Jon and I who do that right now and Kirsty one of our apprentices who has been with us just over 6 months is moving towards making the 23cm Mini Globes. 


(Photo : Courtesy of Bellerby & Co. - Ana Santl for Ignant / Desk Globes)


The workshop is a big beautiful open space, it is very peaceful and full of light. We are situated down a mews off Stoke Newington Church Street, which is a lovely street of boutiques, flower shops, vintage stores, patisseries, pubs and cafes. It is quite warm in the height of summer and chilly in winter but the high ceilings and huge windows make for a beautiful and inspiring setting.

There are 20-30 other workers in and out of the building itself at any given time and everyone is very friendly with each other and collaborates on projects. We have within the warehouse furniture makers, a handbag designer, architects, art directors, journalists and painters.

In the summer our studio opens into a rooftop terrace and we keep the doors open.. everyone tends to mingle out there and take long lunches or have drinks after work. And thanks to one of our apprentices, Kirsty, we have George running around, a Boston Bull who likes to take center stage and provides good distraction.


(Photo : Courtesy of Bellerby & Co. - Alun Callender for Homes & Antiques Magazine)


MB: What is something that people do not know about Bellerby & Co. that you would want people to know?

PB: We are still entirely privately owned and growing organically, we will never be a production line and the company will always be kept low-scale, high quality and rare. There will never be a millionth Bellerby Globe.

MB: Where do you see Bellerby & Co. in the future? 

PB: We hope to expand into more products, we don't know what, but it will come to us eventually... more designs and hopefully some fun collaborations. We were hoping as well to open a studio in New York, even if just a "pop-up" for a year.


(Photo : Courtesy of Bellerby & Co. - Stuart Freedman / Peter Bellerby)


MB: What makes you most proud?

PB: We are making a product we are proud of, I am able to employ talented local artisans and craftsmen and I feel we have together revived what was for the most part a forgotten art and made it relevant again. 

FOLLOW: The Scoop, Exclusive Interview, Globemaking, design, craftsmanship

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