Gateshead Aircraft engineer who turns bits of planes into furniture set for Grand Designs stage

Gateshead-based Stuart Abbott turns salvaged aircraft parts into a weird and wonderful array of furniture for homes and workplaces

Stuart Abbott
Stuart Abbott

An aircraft engineer who builds furniture from aeroplane parts is to take his North East business on to the national stage.

Stuart Abbott started Stu-Art Aviation Furniture early last year after producing a chair from aircraft feet in his garage, which he then sold on eBay.

The part time engineer, who currently works at Newcastle Airport, spotted latent demand for the unusual furniture items, built himself a small website and was soon inundated with requests.

Working in his spare time, Mr Abbott outgrew his homespun operation and moved into a unit at Felling Business Centre in Gateshead in March last year.

He sources parts from a number of aircraft breakers, including County Durham-based Sycamore Aviation, and others around the country — often travelling in person to collect items.

In addition to eBay listings and his own website, Mr Abbott started selling via Re-made in Britain — an online platform promoting independent sellers of up-cycled products.

The team behind the site have now invited him to showcase his business at Grand Designs Live exhibition - which showcases contemporary home design firms - at London’s ExCel exhibition centre.

“I started the business really as a way to relieve boredom, as my wife likes to watch soaps in the evening,” Mr Abbott joked.

“Now my phone is busy all of the time and I’ve got requests from all over the place.”

So far the engineering expert has produced all manner of furniture items, including speaker cabinets from catering carts and digital DAB radios from aircrafts’ black box recorders.

He has even produced a number of chairs for Air France’s headquarters in Paris.

Mr Abbott, who works alone, added: “There are people out there doing this, but many are aimed at corporate customers.

“My aim is make this affordable for people who want to buy pieces for their houses. If I can attract more people then I can sell more.

“The more I build the more I look at things differently and try to work out how they could be used.

“For me it’s about using as much of the aircraft as possible. I often end up saving pieces in boxes because you never know what will come in handy.”

Mr Abbott notes that scrap prices have risen sharply as breakers and merchants have become wise to the “up-cycling” trend — which featured recently in another of Kevin McCloud’s Channel 4 programmes.

To stand out from the competition the entrepreneur has decided to focus on customer service, where possible delivering the items in person and providing photographs to buyers throughout the build process.

He added: “I can add something to the experience for customers by explaining where the parts of come from, perhaps giving them a photograph of the plane in the sky and providing some history.

“It does take a lot of time but what I do is about uniqueness and giving people the chance to have something really special in their house.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer