Bethnal Green is home to some amazing businesses, and EJ Ryder has definitely got to be up there with the best! A construction service built on a need to be ethical, environmentally-friendly and forward-thinking. We caught up with Edwin Ryder, Founder and Creative Director at EJ Ryder to find out exactly how it all came together, and why he enjoys working out of Bethnal Green so much!
I grew up in Somerset and studied construction management at Bristol University – I never really envisioned moving to London. My background is as a builder working predominantly in joinery on cottages, houses, fitting slate roof houses, flooring and so on. However, building didn’t offer me the sort of creative challenges I was looking for in my professional life.
It was in 2012 that a friend who was a set designer in Dalston Lane asked me to design and fit a plywood kitchen. I packed up and brought over all my tools, stayed in London for 4 months. Once we finished, we took photographs and put them on Facebook – the response was incredible. We had people asking who the designer was, who made this?! I knew then that I was onto something special.
I taught myself CAD in couple of months, as it was essential for communicating information to tradesman. CAD allowed me to become more involved in woodwork, learning about technologies such as laser cutting and CNC (computer numerical control) machining. In 2014, we were working out of an office in Hackney Wick office, but the dream was to find a place to set up a workshop with space for a design studio.
When we first came to Bethnal Green the space was derelict and run-down. At one point we redecorated, only to find out someone had boarded up a whole wall of windows! We had a studio upstairs and the workshop downstairs. There was even someone living at the workshop. We gradually renovated the space to create a studio and workshop on the same floor, and in August 2018 we hosted a party that was attended by over 200 people. Sodo pizza supplied the food, Redchurch Brewery supplied 2 kegs of beer and East London Liquor Company provided the gin. We were able to raise awareness about EJ Ryder and celebrate the space we had created.
We collaborate with clients, designers, architects and contractors to find innovative solutions to their furniture, interior and architectural construction projects. We work closely together to find creative answers to any questions or problems posed. We use all local businesses and metal workers, our CNC company is based in leyton, for example. We hope to expand our existing workshop and studio into the next building across from us, breaking through the walls to create a huge workspace! We ultimately want to be open to the public; call us, email – we want people to come in and look around, we don’t want to be this secret cave in Bethnal Green.
Initially, we didn’t know much about Bethnal Green and we were very much on the lookout for the right space. Once we were here, we discovered something new about the area each week – there’s even a wrestling club around the corner from us. We remember hearing massive slams and grunting noises one day and casually wondered out to find a man in full spandex getting ready! We even found a mirror silvering company, providing backing for mirrors, and Sodo Pizza is just behind our workshop – we built their shop signage. We worked with Get Turner construction, doing £70,000 worth of business with them. Bethnal Green is such a vibrant place – we discover new businesses all the time and we’re always eager to get to know more people. It’s really the best place to be, super friendly and so much going on.
We created a brand in Bethnal Green and expanded purely on word of mouth. Going forward we want to refurbish our studio, shop and workshop and do so responsibly. I want to minimise waste, reuse reclaimed material and ensure the building is as energy efficient as possible. I also want to utilise a local workforce where possible. I want to allow anyone to come in and explore our spaces and be given opportunities to receive environmentally friendly products and services. Since we have this great space, our offering to Bethnal Green is we leave these spaces as flexible as possible; we’re in a prominent location as a base for the Bethnal Green community. We would be happy to host a wide range of talks and events for free, and we are eventually hoping to provide workshops for local school children to discover the joys of woodworking!
We want to be the best furniture designers and makers. We intend to push the use of technological innovation further, to improve ways of working and encourage more extensive collaboration. I want EJ Ryder to be the go-to for precision engineered house building with a social, moral and ethical philosophical approach to this industry. We want to do whatever we can to encourage change for the better.
EJ Ryder is located on 351a Cambridge Heath Road, give them a follow on their Instagram @ej_ryder