Happy Spring, I hope the winter blues are long gone.
The new year brought new experiences and most exciting by far was travelling to Rockport, Maine, USA to teach at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. I assisted the hugely talented Aled Lewis on the batch product module for 4 weeks and as a first teaching experience, really loved it. If anyone is ever considering treating themselves to a course, they also do great short courses in summer, which is the time to go. Not that frozen sea isn’t beautiful, but… It’s a beautiful part of the world and if you like lobster, sailing and last but not least woodwork, it’s the place to go.
Lobster traps stored during winter, Rockland, Maine, USA.
‘Pembroke’ Range awarded a Design Guild Mark.
The week just got off to a good start with news that the ‘Pembroke’ chair and loveseat have been awarded a Design Guild Mark from the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers. Inspired by the Welsh tradition of ‘stick’ chairs, sometimes also known as Welsh Windsor chairs, I was struck by how characterful they are.
The proportions are typically of quite narrow seats in depth because of the size of the local oak trees and then strikingly wide from side to side. This resonated with me as I like a chair that allows you to change position.
I particularly liked the exaggerated splay of the legs, along with a reverse taper – done rustically this can look cartoonish and done well it can look elegant. So the aim was to harness all the things I love about the traditional Welsh stick chair but in a contemporary way using modern manufacturing techniques.
These are available to order directly through me, the Loveseat in elm and ash is £950 and the chair in elm and ash is £588. It can be made in other timbers, for further details please look at my shop or email me direct. Enquire.
A new collection.
‘Ariège’ is a collection of pieces designed in collaboration with Chris Eckersley. We met through the Bodging Milano project and soon realised that we share an enthusiasm for working with new people on new projects. The range came about from a discussion about trestles and portable furniture, from cabinets to desks.
The result is a range that revolves around a distinctive trestle which can come in a variety of sizes suitable for supporting everything from dining tables and side tables to cabinets designed for different functions. First to test the water was this sideboard in ripple sycamore and oak which went to Design Shanghai with Contemporary Applied Arts last month and is now on show at their London gallery.
‘Quick Step’ for SCP.
Meanwhile, I continue to design for SCP. The ‘Quick-Step’ stool was launched last autumn and is available online.
New designs are in the making for London Design Festival… that’ll be for another newsletter. Visit SCP on-line shop.
Finally in production and available directly from me at £108 + p&p. Enquire.
Made in oak, they come with a loose fitting peg for a perch which you can exchange for a twig of your own foraging.
‘Lily’ for Benchmark.
And for Benchmark. Here is ‘Lily’ a luxurious dressing table, shown in beautiful pearwood.
A new bespoke cabinet with an experimental detail – the tambour slats are painted on the sides – this is only revealed when the tambour moves around the corners. It’s made from fumed oak – a process which turns the oak a beautiful rich dark brown – and elm, with leather lined drawers and shelves.
This was shown recently at ‘Inspired’ – an exhibition at the Goldsmith”s Centre in Clerkenwell. It’s now available for viewing (… and buying) at Contemporary Applied Arts.
10-13 May 2013. Saatchi Gallery . www.craftscouncil.org.uk
I’ll be showing my new ‘Forest Chair’ with Contemporary Applied Arts I’ve seen a few old Black Forest chairs, sometimes also called Swiss chairs, and nearly all of them showed signs of splitting across the seat.
This is because traditionally they were made with thin planks for a seat and then had rails running at 90º to the grain of the seat which the legs tenoned into – not a good idea as the timber wants to move in opposite directions. So with Windsor chairs fresh in my mind I thought I’d make one with a thicker seat which has the added advantage that you can shape it and make it more comfortable.
A new collaboration with David Buss. David also trained at Parnham and he has an established joinery and furniture business in Devon. He approached us to design a range for a new arm to his business which will be to offer good quality, affordable, British made furniture using British hardwoods.
What’s to argue with that? So Bridger & Buss is launching its first collection 21-23 May at Clerkenwell Design Week.
Before, During, After’ 27 March – 2 June . www.harleygallery.co.uk
An exhibition of chairs made by the two bodging groups from 2010 and 2012. This includes a piece made before the experience – ‘Infinity’ which contrasts well as it required almost zero tolerance in the making in order for the tapered mitres to be perfect, and then Bird Bender’ as my ‘after’ piece which was a result of me experimenting with steam bending on my own. I’m using sweet chestnut for the bending, which is excellent for outdoor use and then off-cuts for the rest. If anyone’s interested please get in touch, at the moment I’m not sure if I can make this a viable batch product but if the interest is there it will motivate me to work on it!
The exhibition is expected to tour, you can find out more about Bodging Milano and other related projects here: www.bodgingmilano.co.uk
I was very excited to be asked by chair makers, Sitting Firm, to have my bodged chair design reproduced. It is very similar to the original minus a few wonky spindles and dodgy angles! It’s called the Pembroke Chair because I borrowed the form from the Welsh tradition of stick chairs.
Apparently trees in Wales were not so broad so their chair seats tended to be wide and not very deep. Sitting Firm have a fantastic factory and many years’ experience making Windsor chairs, its a delight to work with such a specialist manufacturer in Britain. Spurred on by Chris Eckersley, they have embraced new designs and have an interesting collection emerging.
The donations’ boxes for the Geffrye Museum were installed towards the end of last year and I finally got to photograph them in situ.
They’re made from solid oak with a back-lit glass panel. There were quite a few notes in them when I went, its good to see they are being noticed. Its a wonderful museum and I highly recommend it, the restaurant is good too.
Last summer I was invited to join 8 other designers to experience bodging first hand with the expert guidance and infinite patience of Gudrun Leitz in Herefordshire. We had 5 days to make a chair using the traditional tools and construction methods of the Windsor chair.
The main principle is that the seats are made from green wood, the spindles, legs and bows also, but they are then partially dried before assembly. This ensures that the seat will shrink more than these components which are tenoned into it – resulting in a very fit. Its a fabulous way of using the inherent qualities of the material to its best advantage. Oh, and working with green wood was a revelation – dust free and quiet!