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8 August 2017

Meet our Founder: Davia Walmsley

Salt water runs through the veins of our Founder, Davia Walmsley. Her maiden name, Davia Davidson is derived from The Faroe Islands – homeland to her paternal Grandfather – where her ancestors were fishermen for many generations.

Her grandfather moved to England and her Father was born here – although he spent a portion of his childhood in the Faroe Islands between the ages of 7 and 9. During this time her Father joined her Grandfather on fishing boats sailing out from the Faroe Islands and learnt his paternal heritage whilst on the shore.

After entering the family trade at such her young age, her Father found employment during adulthood as a radio operator in the booming fishing fleet sailing out from the Port of Grimsby, Lincolnshire.  It was here in the North-East of England that Davias` parents met, and where Davia was born. Her Mother was also employed within the fishing industry as a personnel administrator for the Ross Group – owners of second largest fishing fleet in England during the 1960`s.

Davia’s passion since a young age lay with art.  As a young adult, her Mother urged her to learn shorthand and typing (good skills to earn a stable income) but she had no interest in this. She followed her passion and became the first in her family to attend university when she studied Ba(Hons) 3D Design at Middlesex University.

During the early years of her studies at Middlesex University, it was ceramics that stimulated her creativity. This led to her differing for a year to work at Alvingham Pottery.  It was here that she trained under the Ceramic Artist, Pru Green in the art of throwing clay.

Upon returning from her gap year, however, she had the opportunity to work with glass and this material has been her passion ever since.  Following her time at Middlesex University, Davia enrolled at Brierley Hill in the West Midlands –  a few miles from the historic glass industry of Stourbridge – and gained a postgraduate certificate in glass technology.

By now the year is 1980 and the next step for Davia was to enter the glass industry. She travelling north to Blackpool and sought out employment at the Venetian Glass Factory where she gained experience by working alongside and watching the craftsmen blowing glass.

After working at the Venetian Glass Factory for over a year, a desire to design and create her own work moved her to found a company called Sand Design.  This was a precursor to Daedalian Glass Studios and focussed primarily on sandblasting designs on to glass items such as windows, door panels, furniture inlays, shelves, etc.

glass etching
Davia Walmsley etching a 3000 x1000 mm bar front for the Savoy Hotel, London

In 1986, Davia founded Daedalian Glass Studios as she wished to capitalise on the success of Sand Design and expand the range of glass working techniques offered.  Her creative vision was to build a company that is anchored by its values (building relationships, creating inspiration, exhibiting integrity, and delivering excellence) that has the production infrastructure and expertise of a large corporation whilst delivering the customer service associated with a family business.


the old smithy building
The Old Smithy building during redevelopments in 1994 prior to becoming the home of Daedalian Glass Studios.

Davia has been instrumental to the success of Daedalian Glass Studios. Her creative vision has fuelled its growth from origins in modest local commissions to collaborating on projects worldwide. Glass designed by Davia Walmsley and created in the Old Smithy studio featured in the interiors of five star hotels, foreign embassies, public buildings, commercial properties, places of worship, luxury private residencies, superyachts and royal palaces.

davia and joe walmsley
Davia and Joe Walmsley discuss glass design prior to a client meeting


Her Son, Joe Walmsley joined Daedalian Glass Studios in 2012 after working in the London financial sector for several years. Whilst Joe has taken responsibility for the administrative duties associated with running the company; Davia remains the creative vision within the design team.