Q&A with Ian Knapper: Stonemason & Managing Director - Ian Knapper Ltd
This months property Q&A is with Ian Knapper, Stonemason & Managing Director of Ian Knapper Ltd
Tell us a little about yourself…
I am the Managing Director of Ian Knapper Ltd, married to Liz, dad to two boys – Fred and Joe. I like bouldering (low level climbing with no ropes) to keep my body flexible and concentrate the mind and food /restaurants – especially the pursuit of discovering a new chef or restaurant before they make it big!
I was born in Staffordshire and landed a Saturday job (aged 11) working at a local quarry. It was here I found my love of the craft. I went on to study at Bath college – one of the few colleges in the UK running a stone masonry course. During this time, I won the national stonemasonry competition (Skillbuild 1992) and went onto to represent the UK in the international “Skill Olympics” winning Bronze in Lyon 1994. Subsequently, I set up my own stone masonry business (aged 21) – initially just myself and literally doing anything and everything stone related – dry stone walling, architectural stonework, the odd house, fireplaces etc. We now employ 11 persons at our base in Staffordshire and several onsite installation teams across the land.
Who are your greatest influences?
Professionally, Paul Smith for his absolute quality product, that has quirk and puts a smile on my face – also to have taken that commercially to the international brand it is now. And Zaha Hadid, not only for the beauty of her designs (which I love), but for constantly sticking to what she believed in from an architecture perspective, not softening her vision or bowing to commercial pressures, especially in a male dominated industry and environment – a great loss.
The material we work influences be greatly. It motivates me and brings out a creativity that no other man made product can – to be able to take a natural material that is literally dug out of the ground – with no other processes required other than shaping it to something useful and beautiful is special.
What have been some of your best jobs and why?
Initially when working for myself, the pleasure of engaging directly with the client – designing and making them something from stone was (and still is) very rewarding. Any “firsts” for us also give a great feeling of excitement – our first solid stone staircase, my first fireplace directly for the customer, meeting them, designing for them etc.
We recently completed what is likely to be the largest solid marble staircase in the UK – seven flights of solid Carrara marble staircase in a very exclusive property in Knightsbridge. And we have been part of a historic project at Westminster Abbey which was fascinating.
Traditional vs contemporary style?
Personally – contemporary. I like to clean back the clutter and busyness and let the material take centre stage
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
To produce the things we do, with the great team we have… and to be able to make a living out of it!
Last book you read?
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris – about the Dreyfus Affair, and truly fascinating
A simple bolthole in a Tyrolean village – (drivable) with a great restaurant and wine!!
Hungry for more?
Read up on the latest news, delicious eats, travel treats and seasonal style trends in FEATURES, or browse a curated selection of our FEATURED PRODUCTS, meander through our guide to the finest things to do in Cheshire and beyond in WHATS ON or partake in our COMPETITIONS.
About The CHESHIRE Magazine
We are the definitive guide to luxury lifestyle in the North West. Latest news, delicious eats, travel treats and seasonal style trends. The Cheshire Magazine is the largest luxury lifestyle title for the North West of England, dropping directly through the letterboxes of VIP subscribers from the Wirral to Greater Manchester plus all the villages and towns in between and digitally available as a subscription in print and digital on issuu.com worldwide. We specialise in connecting luxury brands to likeminded consumers.
If you are interested on how you can partner with The CHESHIRE Magazine, read more about us. Or get in touch to find out more about marketing, featuring or partnering with the Cheshire Magazine in print or online.