12 Questions With Tony Cope CEO of Solid Wooden Doors
Tony Cope owner and driving force behind SWD takes half an hour out of his busy schedule to answer the following questions
1. How did you get into the Door industry?
Well, that’s a long story … My interest probably started when I was at school in Windsor and I took woodwork at A level. At the time I wanted to be a furniture designer but there weren’t many jobs going in that field. So, I went to art college and took up a profession as a graphic designer and eventually owned my own graphic and web design agency. We decided to create an in-house website selling door handles online, which we called handleanything.com as my cousin had an architectural ironmongery wholesaler business. After running that for 5 years, a friend of mine said why don’t you start selling the things the handles go on, doors? We realised that in the bespoke door market there seemed a lot less competition, certainly less than people selling door handles online. So, we opened our first door showroom in Weybridge in 2007. We launched our flagship showroom at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour in 2010.
2. What made you want to specialise in luxurious doors?
Because no one was really doing it. Some of our so called competitors were just selling from their factory catalogues. We actually pioneered increasing the height of fire doors in our industry, where most of the competition were only offering a maximum height of 2250mm. We almost, as standard, supply a lot doors at 2400mm. And we are doing various new luxury projects where we are having to go up to 2800mm.
3. What are the doors like in your own home?
The doors in my own home are the model 1006 in Walnut and were supplied as pre hung door sets with matching frames and architraves. These replaced our existing 6 panel hollow white cardboard doors from china, it completely transformed the look of our home and added a real high quality feel to something we touch many times each day.
4. What front door represents your home?
The front door we have just had installed is a high gloss black, high security door with side screens. The design of the door is based on our Royale model. I also added a motorised lock and a fingerprint scanner, which is the best technology I’ve had. I just love it. It means I do not have to leave keys under the mat for the kids because everyone can use the fingerprint scanner as it can store up to 99 fingerprints. We certainly have no worries about anyone breaking into our front door, which was previously a concern as there had been a number of burglaries in our area.
5. What is your favourite finish?
My favourite finish at the moment is a dark stained oak or walnut finish.
6. With so many luxurious doors being fitted and lots of different designs and finishes available do you ever want to change?
Its funny you should say that because my wife has been looking at our case studies and portfolios we have put together for our clients. She now wants to replace our doors with high gloss black lattice doors, for all our doubles and high gloss panelled doors elsewhere. With white frames and architraves. So will be happening very soon I’m sure.
7. SWD specialises in bespoke joinery. What bespoke joinery compliments your doors at home?
We have redone the kitchen with a shaker style bespoke kitchen, we’ve had high gloss grey wardrobes in our master bedroom and a high gloss black bespoke TV unit in the TV room.
8. What is the most exciting project you have had with SWD?
I was so incredibly excited when SWD were chosen to supply all the doors for what is probably the most expensive penthouse in the world. Unfortunately for confidentiality reasons I can’t say who it is for and exactly where it is.
9. If you could only pick one design what external door would you choose for the following customers:
10 Downing Street – I would never presume to change the iconic design, but we could improve things by ensuring it is one of our premium high security doors. We would probably improve on the quality of the high gloss finish too.
Michael Caine – Again, I’d probably have to go with a high security door. There is no way you would blow those bloody doors off!
Mary Berry – I would recommend a Heritage oak external door, this would be as welcoming on the eye as a freshly baked Victoria sponge.
10. What part of your job/role do you enjoy the best?
I genuinely have a passion for all of the aspects of what we do. However, I particularly enjoy the research and development side. This involves creating new door designs and finishes and really gives us the opportunity to see our dreams come to life, which is fantastic fun. Many of our most popular models have been designs we have come up with. Examples are our model 150alu, N311 and N312. We have also produced these doors in many bespoke stained finishes and even liquid metal finishes like antique bronze and copper.
11. What is the most popular finish you are asked to supply?
A high quality bespoke door really does stand the test of time and is not something that tends to change with passing fashions. Currently we are finding that the finish many interior designers are specifying is walnut in an almost black stain or inox which gives a grey tone and really does look fantastic.
12. What does the future look like at SWD?
We are currently very excited to be producing a fantastic new range of high quality premium wardrobes with a different construction to that usually found in the current market. This new concept will allow us to make the wardrobes 35-40 mm thick. The wardrobe doors can be made up to 2.8 m high by 800mm wide. We will also be using concealed hinges rather than the Blum hinges, that in my opinion, always ruin even the high end bespoke wardrobes when you open the doors and see up to 8 of them on the inside of the carcass.
We are also introducing a new led lighting system to the wardrobe interiors, where the led strip lights have 240 LEDs per meter rather than 60. So, the light strip will not look like lots of small dots of light and be more like a continuous strip.
We are so excited to be installing our first wardrobes made in this way into a penthouse apartment in Chelsea Crescent very soon.
You can look at more of our projects here