Stylish, unique and trendy furniture manufacturer and upholsterer Mr McQueen rejuvenates and reinterprets everyday furniture, giving it a designer-like edge and offering a fully bespoke service. The business is focused on providing a personal touch, with the delivery of its pieces set up as a real experience for the consumer. Victoria Noakes spoke to founder Peter Murtha to discover more about the driving force behind the brand and its aims.

When moving house last year, Peter Murtha sold all of his furniture and followed up a friend’s recommendation of an upholsterer who could lend him a sofa. Upon paying him a visit, Peter was surprised to be greeted with furniture of such striking quality, and disappointed to hear that he was about to quit.

“I begged him not to – the next day, we had a conversation about how to get him more work, and over the next two months we worked on a strategy plan to think of a company we could start between us. The business is named in memory of my mum who passed away a year before from cancer. Just before she died, we watched Disney’s Cars and the lead character in the film was called Lightning McQueen,” Peter reflects.

From here, Peter developed the foundations for a business with family values and personal service, while celebrating the potential of furniture as an artform. Mr McQueen offers a wide range of furniture, from sofas and armchairs to chaise-longues and dining chairs – working closely with both up-and-coming and established interior designers to keep up with the latest trends.

Fine fabrics such as crushed velvet, linen, leather and silk are married with lovingly-restored furniture frames, and 70% of the company’s product is drawn from recycled materials. The company supplies bespoke pieces directly to consumers’ homes as well as the contract market.

Mr McQueen’s aim is to give upholstery a fresh and unusual twist without diluting its original essence – to preserve the past by projecting it into the future. It does this by harmonising impressive craftsmanship and quality with contemporary styling. “Upholstery can come across as a bit of a dull industry, but I feel that the artistry that goes into our pieces makes us one of the most exciting things on the market,” Peter explains. 

“There is too much work going on out there that’s not up to standard, and we’re at risk of upholstery becoming a dying trade if we don’t start paying our British craftsmen well. We want to bring more people into the industry and not to lose this amazing British trade of craftsmanship to other countries.”

The company’s bespoke service means that it can cater to a variety of client needs, and to add to this sense of personalisation, Mr McQueen puts a lot of effort into creating a unique experience for its customers. The company delivers its pieces as presents for the customer to open, with the senses being stimulated by different aspects of the presentation.

“The wrapping is for sight, a personal letter is covered in perfume for smell, chocolates are included for taste and the texture on the front of the envelope is for touch. All of the personal jobs we have done have commented that the whole experience of buying from us is amazing. Everyone loves opening presents, and furniture doesn’t have this. It’s so much fun to see the excitement our clients get – a great experience and satisfaction for us too. We want to make an impact with great customer service.”

As a result of the attractive British feel and high-end, unique nature of the brand, Mr McQueen continues to receive enquiries from as far as China, and the business aims to increasingly target the international market. Althouth the company currently works with around 10 local companies to round up an impressive level of British skill and talent, Mr McQueen constantly seeks out new upholsterers to collaborate with in order to maintain the brand’s standards and take it to the next level.

Amidst its ambitious plans for growth, social consciousness is of utmost importance to Mr McQueen, and is one of the business’ key motivations. 5% of the company’s profits are donated to the palliative care unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and it works collaboratively with its clients to generate exhilarating experiences for children who are at the end of their lives. “I have worked with children with cancer at the children’s hospital for 10 years as I also own a hair loss company, Optima Hair,” explains Peter.

“The feeling you get when you are helping a child in need is like nothing else. I want to pass this on by making sure that everyone involved in Mr McQueen experiences the same feeling of helping others, so we arrange hospital visits to the wards to see how the money we donate is being spent. I strongly believe that everyone should be giving something back.”