From Star Wars to gentleman builder

Building consultant Glyn Baker has starred in films such as The Wild Geese, The Living Daylights, Who Dares Wins and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. These days he’s the ‘007 of problem designs’  

Turning 60 last year (yup 60!), I suppose I’d promote myself as a gentleman builder these days and – more than that – the potential 007 of problem design issues, where other designers fear to tread. Truthfully, I’d be lucky to call myself 002, as there are some truly clever people out there tackling similar stuff, who I’m often on the phone to for help.

Good contacts are everything in this game and talented people are normally very generous with their knowledge, because they know how perplexing even the smallest process can be, and getting it right is everything.

Really working with the client, holding their hand, and helping to realise their dream makes the whole process easier – and above all enjoyable and as exciting as it should be.

After all, they’re often parting with a good deal of money, so it’s always about them and their goal, and passionate personal referrals are my MO.

I rely on my strength of picking apart tricky problems, and using my 35 years of good relations with all kinds of trades and craftsmen, to deliver something special and unique. That satisfies both the client and myself, because personally the challenge of producing something new and beautiful is the key to remaining involved and engaged.

Try to make work a pleasure. I always maintain a clear vision of the completed task that I work towards, reaching it – and wherever it has taken you off to, to achieve the end result is the prize.

Glyn Baker
Glyn Baker

Back in the Nineties, I was working for a famous American film composer, fitting out his modest little castle in the Dordogne and needed two dozen pairs of stag antlers to make up the bannisters, for what turned out to be a truly stunning set-piece staircase. It was a Bond villain’s lair if there ever was one. And as tricky as it was, it was nothing to the compliment I received years later from the brilliant Ken Adam, who had stayed at the property. “Clever stuff, well done son,” he said. “Mind if I nick the idea for the next Bond?”

Actually, I’d already nicked it from Where Eagles Dare, Ken, sorry. Although I couldn’t quite see Ken deep in a snowy Bavarian forest actually picking out useful antler shapes from a heard of 200 strong live deer before they shed them the following spring.

Resourcefulness is everything – if you want something unique, you don’t go to Ikea. Well perhaps you do, if only for that clever little ball hinge thing they make that nobody else does and that works brilliantly and makes your design sing!

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