Johnny Egg has never had a day’s training in his life. Yet his furniture is stocked in the prestigious London store, Heals, and has featured in numerous glossy magazines. He has never advertised his wares, but works constantly as new clients approach him, rather than him having to seek them out.
As he puts it, he just “keeps plugging away” in his workshop, accompanied by his two dogs Otto and LB (short for Little Bugger).
“My Dad was an actor who worked as an electrician between jobs so I did pick up some practical stuff from him,” says Johnny. “I used to go on jobs with him and help him out, not that he wanted me to, and I was always playing with Lego and Meccano as a child.
“I had a lucky escape when I built a car once that blew up. Didn’t tell my dad though.”
As you might expect, Johnny says he wasn’t particularly interested in the academic subjects at school: “I was more practical, into carpentry and metalwork.” He built his first piece of furniture at the age of 16.
After completing an apprenticeship with a local carpenter, Johnny embarked on a series of jobs that saw him working on cruise ships and in casinos and he was based in the US for four years. But, in his spare time he was working away on his own designs.
To start with he didn’t dare try and sell his own creations as he thought they were too different from what was already available and he feared no-one would be interested. So, he stuck to what everyone else was doing and was largely ignored as a result.
“I was playing it safe but I wasn’t really enjoying that, so eventually I started to do what I wanted to do and that was when I started to build up a client base,” he says.
One of his first pieces was Twisted, a fabulous quirky cabinet that was created for his wife who wanted some storage in an awkward corner of the bedroom.
“I wanted to do something sculptural and a little more quirky. When I started out I was trying to fit in a box but when I stuck to my own designs and started to use the pink, which has become a bit of a signature colour when contrasted with the black, it all started to work out.”
In addition to his furniture, Johnny is also known for his flock range. A retro telephone, classic coke bottles and the chandliers are all covered in micro fibre particles giving each one a dramatic and slightly surreal finish. We’re all used to seeing flock wallpaper, which although quite fashionable at the moment, will probably always carry a faint hint of 1970s Curry House about it. But when that same process is applied to furniture and accessories, it becomes cool in a slightly unexpected way.
“I do like to experiment and I like to work on my own things. I’m a big fan of Jeff Koons, Warhol, Lichtenstein and all that Pop Art. For textiles I love Pucci,” he says.
The latest edition to his range is the wonderfully witty Wine O’Clock, which Johnny has very kindly agreed to donate as a competition prize for one of you lucky, lucky readers of Mad About The House. For a chance to win one of these clocks, simply go to the comments section below and tell us why you need one of these in your house. The competition closes on Wednesday 6 June and the winner will be chosen at random. For anyone who can’t wait that long, or who doesn’t wish to leave it to chance, they are available to buy from Johnny’s online shop at www.johnnyegg.com for £55.