Friday, 7 December 2012

my new car

Another blog post long overdue so lets get straight into it. A bit of a change to the usual posts as i usually post about current projects or what im making, but if you have been following me on twitter you will know that i have bought a new car. Now coming from a car design background this proved a very difficult challenge, as my last car had been with me for 7 years! And being super critical (i am a designer) about every detail when it comes to cars or products, it took me a long time to finally choose a car that i knew i could live with for just as long.
  I had an immense list of requirements! mostly styling issues but also mechanical and reliability requirements, and as cars are one big ball of many aspects of design all wrapped up in metal, i had a big decision to make. I finally plumped for a peugeot 308. Now before you all go critising, i did not take that choice lightly and considered many other cars but found this to be the best all round in terms of good design! let me explain why.

From an ergonomics point of view car design has moved a long way from the cars of 12 years ago which i had, and the first thing that striked me sitting in this car was the amount of the outside world i could see from inside it. This appealed to me greatly as i like to see where im going obviously and some cars nowadays seem to have smaller and smaller glass areas for poeple to hide away in, why? So the vast amount of glass appealed to me and also gave me that extra visual awareness to drive properly and confidently (see where im going here? cars are required to do alot for many individuals and age ranges not an easy task) also the glass made the inside seem bigger where the outside of the car seemed smaller, another trick car designers use to give the ilusion of space. The seating position was perfect to take advantage of this increased viewing area and the interior controls, lights dashboard etc where all simply and intuitively designed to avoid prolonged looking down and taking your eyes off the road (another area where design is vitally important in car design, intuitive controls and operations) just on a side note on the glass area, have you ever been stuck behind a van or lorry while driving and been frustrated that you cannot see where your going, now put yourself behind a car with a large back window (the new crop of small cars like the citreon c1 or peugeot 108 do this beautifully) that allows you to see through that car and onto the road ahead! How much more satisfying is that? giving other road users a vital viewing area for traffic or dangers ahead. An area i think is overlooked completely in car design nowadays (thinking of other road users and not just the ones inside the car)

proportional this car is also a very good go between against small and big cars, again the design of the interior lends the user into thinking the car is bigger and hence cognitively safer, while large mirrors and minimal wheel overhangs allow easy maneourability and parking (well for me anyway) the list of design areas that need to addressed in car design is growing isnt it?

im not going to bore you with engine stats or perfromance becasuse that was never a requirement when i was lookng, i just wanted something economical (who doesn't) but in terms of engines, peugeot produce one of the best, which is encouraging. They designed many diesel engine features that are common place in many engines today and it is quiet! How many diesel cars do you hear that sound like tractors? people are funny things, some don't want to be noticed or seen, so for the shy conscious amoungst us this car appeals, but doesn't shout about it.

road noise is minmal, again down to good design (many years of design, sound proving, material selection etc) and above all the overall styling is very good, it was my main aim to get a car that looked good (i know its vain but us designers like things that look nice and work well) and this car does look good. A prominant face to the car which is distinctive and very peugeot (they have been very good over the years at keeping their brand well known and unique) a lovely clean DFL (draw force line, basically the crease that divides glass and body work when you look at the car side on) which defines the character, stance and proportion of the car.
  Also on another side note the indicator lights, main headlights and brake lights are all segmented well and so do not merge into one another when in use. Alot of new cars do this nowadays, where the indiator light (usually yellow), is hidden within the main headlights, hence when they are on it can be very difficult to see the indicator lights working. Which to me is a major oversight and a dangerous feature for other road users, lots of cars do this, audi, jaguar for example and it shows that car designers aren't really thinking properly about the interaction of the car and its controls on the enviroment its in.

anyway enough ranting as i can see this blog post getting longer and longer as i get my design hat on. what i wanted to prove in this post is that so much and i mean so much design goes into the humble car, more than even i could ever touch on. And proves that car designers don't have it easy. They have to cater for every age group and every ability and sometimes have to make assumptions and estimates as to how best the car should be used or driven. not easy in the slightest!

so my design hat comes off to the car designer!

oh and the boot is very big so i can get loads of wood in it on my travels.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

commission work out in the open

Just a quick blog post -between making a large amount of 'fort' candle holders, trying to gain interest in my work leading up to christmas and making some new prototypes for more storage ideas- to show a couple of photos of the award i made for a local business awards ceremony organised by the Eastern Daily Press newspaper and Lexia Media who commissioned me to make an environmental and sustainability award for the best performing company in this field in East Anglia.
  The photos were taken by local photographer Angie Sharpe (many thanks to her for letting me show the photos) and thanks to Archant publishing for releasing them.
  Its great to see the award i made with the finished brass plaque applied and given to the lucky winners. It looks great and i hope it will take pride of place in their office. One thing i did notice from looking at the photos was the amount of glare that the award got from the lights and camera flash. if you read my previous blog post you will realise i prempted this and was cautious about not putting too much of the gloss lacquer on the lighter coloured Ash wood. So it just goes to show that the designer has to think of every aspect of the design and project as a whole from materials and their interaction with the end user and enironment, to simple issues like size and colour.

so hopefully the more commissions i do i will be able to share the results and views on this blog and hopefully highlight the importance of why designers have to always be thinking ahead and of every eventuality. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

and the award goes too...

So if you have been following me on twitter you will know that i have been doing a little commission piece for a client and i can finally blog about it. I was approached by Lexia Media which is a PR and marketing company based in a beautiful town near me called Woodbridge. They wanted me to make an award for a business awards ceremony organised by a big local paper. The award would be presented to a company that have achieved outstanding environmental and sustainable targets in the year, hence why they wanted a locally sourced wooden award. So i naturally jumped at this chance as i also negotiated getting my name and details printed in the award ceremony brochure and the local paper as well which is distributed already the eastern counties. So it was a great opportunity to gain exsposure for my work and what im trying to do. Numerous email conversations then started with Lexia Media to workout what they wanted and how best to make this piece.

It is too date the smallest thing i have made which surprsingly created alot of headaches in itself, it might not look a technically challenging design but working out the angles and plaque sizes proved to be quite stressful at some points and the old 'making something for someone other than yourself' always adds a bit of pressure. The shape was decided from the outset as it had to fit in with the other awards being presented. But i advised them on material choice-which was Ash and Sapele- and the overall size. Once all this was done i started making it. This took longer than i thought and i also had to consider what finish would be applied as it could not be too glossy due to photographs being taken of it at the ceremony which would have reflected off it and made the plaque unreadable. But i was pleased with how it looked and also how i handled the smaller scale of this commission. I chose a spray on lacquer for the finish as this would give a high gloss professional finish and protect the wood. I thought that an oil finish would not be right for this commission and might not be a desirable look for this piece. The photos show the beautiful grain pattern of the sapele plinth which is great. Sapele wood still impresses me, such a versatile wood.

The photos show the piece without the plaque which apparently will be fitted onto it before the ceremony so i will hopefully post some images of it in the hands of the lucky winners soon. But alot of lessons were learned from this small commission, which will help me in future projects like liasing with clients and determining their exact requirements as early as possible and also talking to other people who may be involved, so i am aware of every eventuality and hence not get caught up or surprised with sudden changes.

I'm hoping this little piece will open more doors in my quest to do what i love.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

working away

So since my last post things have been quite hectic here hence the long pause between blog posts but now i have time to update and explain what i have been up to. As mentioned previously the new designs i have been featuring on my blog and various portfolio sites have proved popular and i have just completed making some new adapted designs of the coat rack and 'beam' desk accessories for the big blue sky shop in north norfolk which currently sells my 'cant' sidetable. They also wanted to sell a couple more of one of my very first designs the 'scape' mirror. This news was greeted with relief, joy and panic. Happy that again my designs are proving popular and being liked but also panic in how i would get all these designs made in time. So the past two weeks have been very busy indeed getting these made and packaged up, for a very long trip to north norfolk tomorrow (21/10/12) which I'm looking forward too. I will take along my camera and try and get some landscape shots of the beautiful north norfolk coast. as its rarew i gat a chance to go up there. so below are some images of the improved coat rack made from a lovely piece of ash heartwood (i made two identical but only photographed one)

the changes made to the coat rack have certainly improved the design no end and have added a rustic element to it but still retaining that modern functional element. again i let the wood sing, so when i saw this heartwood ash i had to buy it, even iif it did cause some headaches while machining it. The 'beam' desk accessories have also had a change with the addition of some accent colours on the end sections and added functionality by way of a slot at one end to add business cards, notes etc. all giving the simple shape added elements that the user can tailor to their requirements.

So once all these products are dropped off in north norfolk I can make a start on my latest commission! A small commission but never the less its a commisson and something different. I have been asked to design and make a Trophy for a local business awards evening. Something totally out of my comfort zone and unique, so i jumped at the chance. I'm currently working out the design in good old CAD and then i will get it made and then engraved ready for the ceremony. Its certainly a good chance for me to promote myself to a So its an exciting project, but.. with a tight deadline, so every day counts really.
  I have also set up a tumblr acount so keep an eye on here and twitter to see what i post and show. It will hopefully be an outlet for me to show my work in progress and other elements of my projects that you don't get to see normally. And when i find time i have some rather different designs that i can't wait to produce and show on here, all based on personal experiences and adapting everyday elements. So some good stuff ahead.

Monday, 1 October 2012

a day in london and new ideas

so my last post detailed some new designs i had been making and im pleased to say they are proving popular in that short time, it seems people warm towards unique but functional designs. I dont know if its because people want value for money nowadays or just something sensible that will last, but its encouraging and spurs me on to explore this direction more. So based on that i am making some more desk accessories with some added colour. Now to most people adding colour is no big thing but this will be the first time i am adding colour to my designs as i have always worked with the natural pattern of wood, so covering it up is going to be a shame but its something that needs to be done. So i spent a long time choosing and testing colours last week and working out what the colour should represent, (its function i suppose). So when we get some decent light in this country (think i suffer some that seasonal affective disorder) i can make some more 'Beam' and 'Beam Plus' trays and add some purposeful colour to them to highlight the shape more and showcase better usability.
  As well as adding to my most recent designs i have come up with a few new ideas based on this minimalist functional desk accessory route i am taking. So expect more ramblings on twitter about these new ideas and then some detailed images on here in due course. But i need to start getting some lighting materials and look into lampshades for these new ideas (little clue there) so another area i have not ventured into before. Why do i make things hard for myself

while all this was going on i went to london for the day when the brilliant design ferstival was on. I had not been since 2010 so i was excited to go and intrigued to see what had changed. Alot was the answer, i just stuck to the three main shows, tent, design junction and desingersdblock and got so much inspiration and encouragement to help with my own designs and it certainly made me think about exhibiting there next year, but thats a big decision and i will see how this year pans out first. But the quality of the work on show was incredible, the best ive seen, so many big names with fautless craftmanship and small one man bands who equally competed with the big names, really gave me hope that did. Its a shame i dont live in london really, i always dread going but when im there its fantastic, you can people watch for hours, (a very important thing for a designer to do) and the scope for getting noticed is immense. But i love my norfolk too much and want to prove that you can make it big and design beautiful functional objects outside of london.

as well as everything else i am on the hunt for reclaimed wood with a renewed optimisum. I have found some old reclaim yards that i need to visit, so will make time for this as im on the hunt for some old oak, which i feel will be a task in itself. apart from that its business as usual, promoting my designs as best i can and making when i can

still think i need my own website though

Thursday, 20 September 2012

my design week

So as its design week in London I have been having my own design week in Norfolk and have made three of my designs that have been burning a hole in my sketchbook and my head for a while now. As detailed in previous blog posts and tweets, I have been working on some desk accessory ideas, -born out the need to start making some smaller designs as mentioned in previous posts- and thought it was high time to get them made. I have way too much sapele wood at the moment and thought this would be the best material to try ideas out on as it finishes really well and I have worked with it before.
  The idea behind these accessories was to create an accompliment to a free standing desk or working space, so I wanted the aesthetic pared down and the function to shine through.  As to me accessories seem to be singular in there function and not achieve the multi-use that people now use their desks for, what with people having more possessions and working from home for example too. So my designs are based around these ideals.

  So the first design is a simple tray with proportions based on normal pens and pencils but with added depth for adding anything that the user would want to keep too hand and organised (phone, keys, small change). The base is felted to avoid scratching and add some colour to the piece. But the simplicity of this highlights the function of it which is only limited by the user.
  The second design takes the tray idea further and adds some more functional elements to increase its usage. The first is a simple slot running the length of the piece which acts as a notice board to store anything the user may need for inspiration or daily tasks, cards, notes etc. further freeing up the desk space and creating order and a base for the users belongings and important items. The other noticeable feature is the circular detail at the other end of the tray which again performs two functions. It can be used to store paper clips or loose items, even a candle! But by placing a rolled up piece of paper or card in the circular slot you then created another area to store pens, pencils, rulers etc. Giving total freedom to how they use it. Proportions have only changed from the first tray along the length to accommodate this unique circular slot.

  So from just a simple oblong section of wood, function and pared down aesthetics have created a very usable desk accessory that can be used in so many ways. Only one tool was used to make these designs, my trusty router. And I can see these designs made from any hard wood to match whatever scheme the user has on their desk/room.  I will be showing and selling these desk accessories in my shop on very soon, once I can obtain some different wood. And on my coroflot portfolio page.
  The third design I have made is an idea for a coat rack using sapele wood again and ash for the peg hooks. The difference with this idea is that a slot has been added to the top backing plate which as the photo shows allows papers, letters, postcards etc etc to be placed along its length. Giving this coat rack a unique extra function.  As not every hall way is bigger enough to have a free standing coat rack, this idea came about trying to give the humble wall mounted coat rack some added value in confined spaces. I played around with many different ideas based on this theme which I will probably make one day but I wanted something that looked simple and uncluttered that the user could adapt and customise. Again this design will be available to buy soon in a choice of woods. The next stage will be to add to the desk accessories I have made with more designs based on this theme of multi use and further exploit this idea of space saving.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

thinking small

time for a brief update since my last post which detailed my 'fort' candle holder which currently i am making in bigger versions to sell on my online showcase at I have also started to make some desk accessories now as i have had many ideas in countless sketch books that i just needed to make, out of all the scrap tropical hardwood i have left over from previous projects. My descision to make some smaller items didn't come lightly as i wanted to try and continue making bigger items of furniture but with limited space, limited time and resources i have to just market what i have at the moment and pusd on with my commission work.
  So whats left of the summer sun is used to good effect at the moment crafting these desk accessories which will of course be online as soon as they are made. Deciding what accessories to make in an age where working has changed dramatically due to mobile phones and the such, proved difficult and if any one has any suggestions to other items of desk accessoires that could be made let me know. As it was a tough decision coming up with designs that were needed on a desk in this day and age that could be used by a wide demographic. So i concentrated on function and pared down style and letting the wood speak for the design. As i see these accessories as a fairly high end aesthetic that suits the tight grain of the sapele wood i need to source some leather to add to these designs so they can be used on a variety of surfaces. As with alot of what i do its all new to me making smaller items so its a big learning curve for me, but one i am relishing. So i am hoping these accessories will represent a new direction in my work, a move towards smaller items that can be crafted from more expensive hardwoods and also show off my creative thinking.

while constructing these new designs i am also continuing marketing my work which is viewable on and trying to find other shops and galleries to show my work. It will take a while i feel. I am also gearing up for the brillaint london design festival. I have alot to see as i won't be exhibiting my work so i am going along to check out what everyone else is doing and pick up loads of tips and ideas. You can learn alot from just watching and observing remember. It will be a great time in the big smoke as the world has been centred on the city it seems, i will hopefully get a chance to walk around the olympic park and marvel at the architecture too.

so a busy few weeks ahead, but the goal is still the same. the journey continues

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

scrap wood done good

If you have been following me on twitter and reading my blog you will know that I haven’t got any major furniture making to do at the moment for clients or shops so I thought that it would be a good time to try and use up all the scrap wood I have accumulated over the months and also try some new ideas out that have been in my sketchbook for a while now. Most notably desk accessories and oddly, candle holders.
  Now this isn’t my usual bag so to speak as I would much rather be making a nice desk or table but there is only so much furniture a man can make and store! Without being overrun with it all and nowhere for it to go. So turning my hand to something smaller seemed the logical step.
  I have lots of scrap wood lying about from Sapele to American White Oak and the overriding thing that struck me was I wanted to create some objects that did not detract from the overall look of the wood (the grain, pattern, form) so I played around with simple ideas where function was the leading aspect, so the wood stood out.

  As many of you know my favourite tool at the moment is the router. Such a versatile tool and one I have used to great effect in other projects detailed in this blog, so I knew with this tool I could create/change an object without taking too much of the wood itself away. And still leave something unique and usable. So I simply and if I’m honest quickly created what I like to call the fort (because it looks a minimalist castle) it’s a very basic candle holder made from a block of Sapele wood (but any wood could be used) which has a section cut right through it to house, crucially two different types of candles. This was important. I didn’t want such a basic design to be basic in use so having the option of it using normal candles (wedged into the first cut through section) as well as good old tea lights in the second cut through section, gave it a little bit of customisation (see photos). The idea is to have small forts dotted around a table or area, and also long fort sections that house 10 tea lights or more, or a mixture of normal candles in a row to create a modern simple (and a little bit dramatic) light source.
To me this basic design was pleasing to the eye and gave new life to old scraps that I would have never known what to do with. I intend to display this design and its bigger brother on the numerous portfolio websites and then hopefully get it ready to be bought on the great

Monday, 20 August 2012

the writing desk

Finally another blog post I hear you cry, I know it’s very long overdue again but I have been very busy making some of my designs to show in another local shop. The Living rooms is a fair-trade sustainably sourced furniture shop that stock a large range of furniture from outdoor to dining ranges, and they approached me to see if I was interested in showing my designs in their vast shop, I jumped at this chance and so if your ever in Norfolk you need to pop down and have a look, my work will also be featured on their website too. So it’s really good news for me, meaning my work is being showed in more shops now and not just online, so things a are looking up in terms of getting my designs out there.

Now back to the point of this post, to detail the design of my most recent design I did for a client in Yorkshire, a writing desk. The client approached me after seeing my designs for the ‘cant’ side table and console table and asked if I could come up with a similar design for a desk. Obviously I jumped at the chance as it was my first commission and I really needed to start making bigger items of furniture too.  So i sat down with them and sketched out a few ideas and found out exactly what they wanted from the desk. This took a few hours as I had to factor in the restraints of space I was working with and what they were hoping for, so a big compromise all round. Once they were happy with the initial idea I made a quick mock up to make sure I had the ergonomics spot on and the overall form was to their liking. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the mock up but it was very basic and proved a point. Thus making the next stage much easier in working out the final dimensions and how the design was going to work.

As the ‘cant’ design series relied on the cantilever principle I could not adopt this technique to the desk, because it would require an extremely heavy and robust frame to support the cantilever and the frame work its self would have to be very thick to take the weight that the desk would have to support, so I came up with an aesthetic  idea of the having the desk top resting on the framework but still fixed inside the frame at one end like the side table and console table this desk takes it inspiration from. So then ensued a lot of CAD work to figure out how to make this resting idea work and work out the final details.

The client chose the wood (sapele) which pleased me as it’s a wood I like to work with and have a lot of experience with so was confident in working with it to produce a bigger design to what I am used too.  And the client was also happy to use 10mm thick acrylic as the desk top (the same combination used on the console table) which not only suited the overall look (an abstract minimal form) but would add a significant amount of structural support to the overall design.  As the frame work I was proposing was unproven and I needed to make sure the design was rigid enough to be used every day and support a fair amount of weight (books, laptop, printer) etc. So more CAD work was needed to assess the need for a central support which would run along the bottom, this not only unhindered the overall look but provided vital rigidity.

Once all the design and CAD work had been done it was time to start making. I acquired the sapele wood from my local wood yard and ordered the black acrylic from a local company. As this was the biggest project I had done I felt a bit daunted by the overall project in hand but I learnt so much from the whole process. Making the framework was quite simple and just needed an extra pair of hands when it came to gluing. The difficult part came when I had to marry the acrylic to the frame work. It required some tricky routing and drilling and because the wood is such a strong contrasting material against the acrylic I had to design in some features to allow the frame to move and shrink. But after a lot of head scratching and huffing and puffing the basic desk was complete and all that was left was to conceal the fixing bolts (by veneering the top brace at the back where the acrylic sits inside) and then finish the bare wood with Danish oil. This beautifully darkened the sapele to add depth and worked amazingly with the gloss black acrylic.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

the return

It's been a long wait but finally i have time to write a post and update everyone on a manic few weeks and explain why i haven't been on here for so long. The last post explained my design and construction on a commission desk i was working on for a couple in leeds. the desk is now finished after a stop start project which resulted in a few more weeks added to the timeline than i would have liked. But the main thing is i am overly pleased with it, as it was the biggest thing i have made to date and came out better than expected. Below are some photos showing the desk in various stages. All that is left for me is to take some professional photos of it and get it up to yorkshire. Than i can add it to my portfolio and then have the encouragement of making bigger items of furniture in the future.

I will put the professional photos on here in due course but i want to just explain what else i am upto and why i havent been on here for so long. As regular readers will know its a long journey to try and get recognised in this discipline for me and i have been trying to contact galleries and shops to hopefully promote and sell my work. It will take time but luckily i have found another shop that wants to display my work in an exhibiton/popup shop. It's great news and means another person believes in my designs and me. So im busily making two of my 'scape' mirrors and a 'cant' sidetable to display in this shop. It's exciting times but means my time is limited now, having to make 3 items of furniture to the best of my ability and carry on working means i have had to make some cuts in what i can do until these pieces are made, but i have made some time to write this and will try and devote more time as its important part of my development and getting my designs out there.
  The wood i am using to make these three pieces is the lovely beech wood, luckily i had a spare piece knocking around the workshop which was just the right size to make these pieces. the following photos show some progress work and some of the joints that i have been working on (trying to improve consistency and quality at every opportunity)

One thing i have done is completely redesign the construction of the 'scape' mirror to improve the ease of making it and the overall integrity. The redesign has proved successful but one thing i am learning is that the design constantly changes along with the wood i use. So this redesign will change again i reckon as i understand how the mirror glass reacts with the frame and how i need the frame to be independant to a degree to work with the wood. But the overall improvements were much needed and have improved the aesthetics no end. As always photos of the improved design will be posted on here. But my days now revolve around oiling the sidetable frame and mirror frames and getting them delivered to the shop and out in the public eye. I have also made some promotional postcards to accompany my designs in the shop which all helps in my plans to get notcied and sell my designs. As always i am learning alot about this massive industry but more importantly my designs are holding thier own and looking good as they take me further afield beyond sleepy norfolk.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

major update

This post is long overdue as a lot has happened in the past few months and the major thing is the construction of the commission desk which is based on the principles of the 'cant' series. at this present time the making process has grinded to a halt as i was not happy with one leg section that i glued together so i need to at some point travel down to my local wood yard and get some more sapele to make this section again.

but i will start detailing what i have done and how far i have got with some photos showing the processes. the section of wood i got was a lovely piece of solid sapele, which i knewn was an important piece to buy as i didnt want to make the desk from different sections. i wanted one piece to cut every part from. so that was a good buy. The next stage was to divide it up into equal sections to cut down. and then cut down further into the sections.

this was a tricky process as the section i bought was quite long so i had a task of lining up fences and making sure i good get a straight cut on each pass as i had to cut the sections about 14 times to get the frame work all 32mm in section. so alot of sawdust was produced!! once that was done it was a difficult case of looking at each section and pairing them up to try and achieve a square,equal desk once it is glued together. the original piece of sapele wood had a bit of warp and twist in it but some sides were quite good so i was able to cut on the clean sides and remove some of these bad sides but i still had to assess easch section so i had a fair chance of getting some straight legs and brcaes. once this was done i was laot more happy and confident with the rest of the build.

i then started to glue the sections together once i had spent mpore time making sure my order of build was the right one as i had to think ahead to make sure the desk top could go in and the holes could be drilled and also make sure the sections i glued could be supported and not be a hinderance, as this is the biggest thing i have to date.

once i had figured out the best way to clamp the sections i used a dowel joint and good old wood glue to assemble the leg sections but as mentioned earlier for some reason one leg arrangement did not glue as intended which i think has something to do with the clamps not being central and having too much play in them. But its not the end of the world so i carried on with cutting the slot for the desk top and drilling the holes so it could be bolted in. Also the polishing and drilling of the acylic top took a a while but the finish is very good and its heavy which is important for the overall stability of the desk because the leg arrangement is quite light.

so i am at a stage now where the major cutting and drilling is done and all that is left to do is glue the remaining sections together and assemble the acylic desk top. its been a major project for me but i have loved every minute of it and have learnt so much from doing this. my other project for a console table has taken a back seat at the moment but now i am near completing this desk i can then concentrate on the console table and then get back into the swing of making more concepts and promoting my work. so the next blog post will hopefully be a full photo evaluation of the design, overall appearance and explanation of the design intent.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

new concept

when i first started this blog i outlined a number of things i wanted to do on here and one of those things was to show concepts and prototypes based on my design thinking and where i wanted to go with my furniture design. So this post details a new concept that i have created in mock up form. The basis of this design was to explore my interest in the muti functional, adaptable designs that are sensitive to material usage and life span. So this piece takes these ideas and thus creates a simple minimalistic style of table/functional object.
  The idea is to use a basic strong cube frame arrangement and have a designated area to be a usable surface, but this surface extends past the frame work to highlight its obscure postion and encourage the user to adapt their interaction with the design. I have also incorporated a slot in the front arm of the cube to emphasise how the surface is fixed into the cube but also to possibly highlight a weight saving option of the design (sustainability here as well) and again an adaptability by adding an extra surface/functional aspect to the cube. Thinking about it the postion and size of the surface area also highlights the need for furniture to possibly be more dynamic in size/shape to deal with peoples changing usability in that people drap,hang,lean things on or in the furniture. I think people try and find more uses for individual furniture items now and a typical side table/console table for example is being asked to do more in different environments than what it was originally designed to be in.
  The other reason for the surface being located on one side is to encourage the user to work the inside positive space which can be percieved as negative space. By putting a lamp through the frame or leaning an umbrella or simply displaying a plant inside adds a totally new dimension to the idea of a seperate table and makes the design interact more with its surrondings.
  I suppose this concept is a collection of various ideas/ideals and my attempt to try and convert these into a physical form. I think it works in that it keeps to my aesethetic minimalist, modernist style and it paves the way for a future complete design based on this conceptual statement. I also love the idea of having the surface areas of tables/functional items obscured or not ideally placed within the framework and overhanging as this encourages a different interaction and hence creates a new design identity based on usability. Changing how the piece of furniture is used or percieved.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Again its been far too long since my last post so its long over due i update this and explain what has been happening. As is usual for me i have two projects on the go. The first one is a commision i am working on for a desk for a client in leeds, i made a very quick mock up that was completed over a weekend and i then showed this to the client last weekend to get their initial recation in terms of size and overall appearence.
  The design is based on the 'cant' series of side tables and console tables i have designed recently and takes the principle of the cantilever construction but adds more structure to it so it can be used as a desk and support alot more weight. As it was a commison piece i was working to some restrcitions, mainly the size of the desk and the materials used. They decided they wanted the frame to be made of sapele wood, which i have used before and clear acrylic for the desk top. Thus providing a good contrast and that should result in a very unique and modern design.

 Since i last wrote the above paragraph the clients have decided to go for a black acylic top now, based on my 'cant' console table, so i can now start sourcing the sapele wood and ordering the acrylic and tyr and have this made before the queens jubilee, but trying to source the wood yesterday resulted in me driving all the way to the big smoke to find they were shut, so the timeframe has been put back by a few days more. but it promises to be a great, unique design that i will show on this blog soon.

  The second project i am working on is a new design for a console table and subsequent furniture pieces based on an asethetic which will run through this range, i posted two photos on twitter a while ago showing the mock up i made from good old chipboard, which is not the nicest but it is cheap and quick to cut to shape etc. The design is quite simple but the detail/overall appearance lies within the use of two contrasting woods and the relationship between them, one slightly hidden, the other promoting strength and the overall feel.

  Again since writing the above paragraph i have cut the main sections of wood for this new design from good aold sapele and a new wood im trying, iroko. which so far seems to be a very good wood to work with and has a lovely grain/patina to it. so now its just a case of joining them together and making the inner section.
  My designs seem to have a simler aesethetic to them just recently and i think its because i am trying to concentrate on making furniture that appeals to people's interaction with it and the relationship they have with it over time. So in a sense you could say im concentrating on the functional aspects but also adding a unique and different appearance. so now the hard work graft begins, the drawing and planning, researching and thinking is over and i just have to knuckle down and get them made, as always i will update the blog with photos and descriptions of my progress as well as a new prototype idea i am working on which i am gluing up as i type

Saturday, 7 April 2012

a hectic 2 weeks

so my last post detailed my current new design of the 'cant' console and im pleased to say it has proved quite popular and i am in the process of trying to get it displayed in galleries and shops within my local area. But most impressively it has spawned a commission for a desk based on the principle design features of it. The commission came about after a weeks holiday in the yorkshire dales that i took, if you kept an eye on my twitter feed you would have known that people up north really liked the design and that is how the commission came about so my latest design project is taking a back seat while i concentrate on making some mock ups for this new desk i have been asked to make. I sent the customer some material samples last week and that will then give me more information about what their looking for and give me time to source the right wood for them. Speaking about sourcing wood it has been an ongoing struggle of mine to find a good supplier of wood around where i live. Obviously i can travel to different wood yards and suppliers but because i am concentrating on small pieces of furniture the added cost and time travelling has to be reduced as much as possible to keep in line with my ethos and why im doing this. So i was left excited and majorly confident after a visit to a sawmill only a few miles away from where i work (how i didnt know about it sooner i do not know). It was the biggest collection of sawn timber and hardwoods i had seen, all air dried and kiln dried if required and i was in my element. But more importnantly it is now going to provide me with an invaluable source of good quality english hardwoods that i know have been managed and sourced sustainably and that can aid in my design direction of providing locally sourced environmentally considerate furntiure designs. So now I have the daunting task of selecting which hardwoods i want to use and working out the price structure to go with it.
  But the most valuable asset this local yard will provide me with is knowledge. i was only there for half an hour but the owner taught me so much about wood and the business of wood that i had learnt more there than i could have learnt from countless books and blog posts. so this can only encourage me further and in time make my craft skills that much better becuase i am understanding the wood and not just cutting it and sticking it together.

Just going back to my trip to yorkshire in general i was amazed by the amount of independent furniture makers i saw there. Such a large collection in an even larger area of britian, they all had signs outside their houses and workshops bolted onto their houses so i guess a large part of their income is generated from the tourists. Its a shame sleepy norfolk is not as popular as yorkshire but it certainly gave me confidence to keep going and pursue what i love, as long as the design is at the forefront, and good design at that.

so as you can tell this new commission is going to take up alot of my time but it has also allowed me to discover new things and learn, which is great. Inbetween this new commission which will involve countless mockups and trips to my local diy store to get some scrap wood for this purpose, i am still refining the design for my latest project which will spawn a new collection in time and a new design direction. So if im lucky i can work on two projects at once and learn and adapte my skills for both. An excellent time and always im doing something i love so i could not be happier.  

enjoy the easter break and remember to keep an eye on my twitter feed as we detail snippets and insights into the new designs i create

Saturday, 24 March 2012

'cant' console table

As regular readers will know i use this blog to show my current designs and new ones and this is the first new design i have made for a while now, so i will run through the design and explain my thinking behind it. The console table is based on the popular 'cant' sidetable principle of having a cantilever surface protrude through and into a wooden frame arrangement. I knew this design would be quite adaptable so i started to play around with varying proportions for a hall/console table. the below photo shows the first mockup which gave me a good starting point in terms of what functional size i was looking for.

The next stage after deciding on the size was to source some appropriate wood. And by chance i had acquired some reclaimed sapele which proved perfect for the job, well seasoned, dead straight and having worked with sapele before i knew it would be a good wood to make this design out of. So the process began of cutting the wood down and preparing it to be made into the frame work. As i had made the sidetable in the same way i was confident i could make a solid frame based on that design. So the gluing and constructing of the frame did not take too long at all. The problem i had was coming up with a new way of fixing the table top into the frame work as i had had mixed results with the sidetable method of fixing and knew i had to find a more workable solution and after much sketching and experimenting i came up with the idea of concealing nuts and bolts within the frame work which would in turn hold the acrylic top in place, the next series of photos show the plugs i used to cover the holes up in the back strut of the table. But since completing this table i think I can improve this fixing system even more by changing a few elements and hence improving the overall look of the piece and eliminating the plugs i had to use to cover the holes.

once the fixing holes had been drilled (16 in total) i could glue the last sections of the frame together and begin the tricky task of routing out the slot to except the acrylic top, its always a nerve wrecking time as one slip can ruin the piece of the wood and as this wood was reclaimed i did not have anymore. panic over i secured the top into the frame and could finally see the finished design which is always an interesting time, wondering of you have done right with proportions and construction, but i was pleased but knew where i could improve for next time. I then oiled the frame with traditional Danish oil which has brought out the grain of the wood quite well and darkened it which has then contrasted well with the black acrylic. I tested the strength of the cantilever construction by placing a 2kg weight on the edge of the table surface which proved that the table was strong enough for daily use. As you can hopefully remember the original idea for the ‘cant’ series was to give the framework a functional element by allowing the user to customise the piece by draping magazines over the frame or clipping lights to it hence freeing the table top for more storage etc. one thing I have learnt is that I will probably spend a bit more time looking into the design of frameworks for future projects and try to understand the forces that will be exerted on that frame and improve the design overall, but also looking at the amount of wood I use and the way I use it. so an interesting experimental project awaits.

This design will now be listed on to be bought and put on various portfolio sites and the process begins again as I have a new idea to take further and expand on which is always an intriguing time in the life of a new design.

Monday, 19 March 2012

good design hangs around

about time i put my thoughts and views down again on this blog and i wanted to start by rejoicing thefact that i ahve finally finished the 'cant' console table that took far too long to make, thats the trouble when you can not do something you love all day everyday, things take more time. photos will be up on here as soon as i can take them but for now you will have to believe me that the wood has come up beautifully (remember it was reclaimed sapele) and the new system i used to sercure the cantilever top to the frame works a treat. so this design will also be uploaded to my usual sites so that it can be bought and shown to a wider audience.

so thankfully my time can now be put towards my new project and making mockups of that before i decide on the final design, its always a fun part of the process seeing how far you can push an idea before you commit to the chosen wood, and i am hoping that this new design will lend itself to a line of furniture items just like the 'cant' series.

going slightly off track i saw a strange site the other day. i was walking down my local high street and saw one of those new volvo v40's, i have always been a fan of them and really like the new design style they have come up with but i was drawn to the inside of the car and while looking more closely i spotted the instrument pinacle. they were still the same round dials you get in any car but they had an lcd display inside each dial and then the hand that registers the speed followed around that on the perimeter, its hard to explain but google it and im sure youll find it, but i was shocked to see this design as it was very similar to an instrument design i came up with at university about 9 years ago. it was very pleasing to know that i had come up with a very similar idea all those years ago and see it on a very modern and stylish car all these years later. it proves that good design is timeless, it made my day.

anyway expect to see photos of the new console table on here very soon and some images of my new design in the mockup stage

Monday, 5 March 2012

good progress

It’s about time I posted another update about what has been happening and what I have done in my pursuit of producing some modern/minimalist furniture. I’m currently still making the console table based on the ‘cant’ side table series out of sapele. I have ordered the black acrylic top which will finish the piece so it’s just a case of finishing the wood, sanding and oiling it and then securing the top with a new system I have come up with which will hopefully provide a better cantilever solution. So that’s the main area of focus in trying to establish a collection of furniture that best shows off my design skills as well as my progression in making them and getting that quality and uniqueness. But as a lot of readers will know I don’t always concentrate on one project and I am now in the process of designing a new piece that has been in my sketchbooks for a while and having successfully found a piece of wood that will do it justice I can start making some mock-ups of the design and constructing it which for me is the best part.

  The wood I bought is called iroko, a wood I have not used before but the grain and straight ness appealed to me so I had to buy it, but I was worried when I read up about it on the internet and found out about the harmful effects of the dust it produces. Which I should have known about to be honest because all wood dust is dangerous but it certainly makes you think twice and realise that the simple (I call it simple) art of making furniture can be damaging to your health. (don’t tell my mum) so it is giving me a new found respect for the wood I buy and it will certainly make me use it differently now.

   But the problem comes in trying to find another piece of wood to compliment it (there’s a clue to the design) which I know will not be cheap and easy, maybe I should have pared down the first selection of wood but I have set myself a challenge and know the outcome will be worth it. So in my pursuit for a piece of wood I have discovered a new wood yard very local to me which I know will prove to a gold mine in the future and this just fuels my desire and creative ideas further, so I feel the summer months will be very experimental and hopefully profitable. 

  Apart from that, that’s all the making I am doing at the moment and so I continue to try and improve my photography skills to get some better shots of my designs for the various websites I am on.  I am still trying to find some local markets where I could sell my designs so if anyone knows of any that would be great but the slog continues promoting my designs but the passion is still there and that’s the important thing. When I see one piece of wood somewhere it does excite me (sounds weird) but that’s where the passion and creativity comes from, it’s very important.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

slow start

Well this isn't the best start to 2012 and not the one i was planning. I was hoping to update this blog more frequently and get alot more work produced, but it is only febuary so i should not complain, but i have high expectations of myself so i need to get my act together and this new post is the start.

Since my last update i have started to make a console table based on the principles of the 'cant' sidetable. i am using reclaimed sapelle which is an exotic wood and hard to come by as well as being quite expensive so i am being very cautious as to how i use this wood and trying not to waste it. i dont think i am using the wood to the best of its ability though, due too the column legs this 'cant' design stipulates. compare this to the bedside table i made early last year out of the same wood and you can see where i am coming from. but the wood was free, seasoned well and does finish beautifully so the end result will hopefully meet my high expectations.

so i started with a mock up of the table before i cut or measured anything to make sure i was happy with the proportions and had enough sapelle wood to make it.

as i have always said this is one of the hardest parts in designing furniture as proportion is everything, it has to work for such a broad range of environments and users. but after much experimenting and playing with dimensions i decided on an overall size and i am now in the process of the cutting the wood and sanding off years of paint and varnish, then its a case of drilling the holes for the dowel pins and carfully constructing the sections and inserting the acrylic top which will be in black, a nice contrast with the dark brown of sapelle. i have also come up with a new way of securing the acrylic into the wood which will hopefully improve the overall strength, so im eager to get this part of the design made and test it out.

whilst i am making this table i am also playing with different designs for chopping boards! not something i want to be doing as i always have ideas for bigger and better things but i needed something to use up all my offcuts and thought this was a relatively easy way to do and it will hopefully push forward some asethetic direction in other designs for me. so expect some odd shaped slabs of wood to grace this blog soon but the shape will show a new direction and will lead to bigger things long term.

on a side note i was contacted by the very talented sebastian cox the other week who also designs and makes stunning furniture, be sure to look him up. he showed me some work that his old university tutor did a few years ago and it was uncanny how similar it was to some of my designs. my heart sort of skipped a beat at that point and made me realise how easy it is to accidently design something that resembles someone elses design. it has certainly made me more aware and has highlighted the need for me to take copyrighting more seriously, but also it made me feel quite proud that a distinguished lecturer had similar designs and ideas to mine, so i must be doing something right. it does make you think how difficult design is becoming now though and how original you have to be these days to stand out and be noticed.

i have finall taken some decent professional photos of my current designs which i ahve been meaning to do for ages now, i am very pleased with the results and finally do my designs justice, these now grace my shop pages on and and will take more photos in the coming weeks of my other designs. its amazing what a few simple changes will make to a photo and hence a designs appeal. very pleasing

the quest continues to get my work in more galleries and shops and i have my eye on a few so i will be busily putting together a sort of press pack for these. And im shortly going to join the 'craft central' website so will have my designs displayed on there which will hopefully be an interesting outlet and give me some more profile in this very competive industry. and when that is all done and the console table is made i can buy some more wood (the stock level is low) and make something else to add to my portfolio! i dont seem to stop really.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

new year

well all the hype over christmas and new year has died down and its time to update the blog and explain my plans for the beginning of 2012. To start off the plan is too continue making new designs and i have plans for two at the moment that will hopefully get finished by the end of febuary, they include a new idea on the sidetable (i seem to like sidetables) and a variation on the 'cant' sidetable design that im excited about and should look striking when finished. So i just need to find time to head down the wood yard and pick up some oak or chestnut for the new sidetable and i will use some sapelle wood i salvaged for the variation on the cant series. So for me its the most exciting time as im at my happiest when making my designs.
  The next thing i need to do is find some more galleries to showcase my work, so the old email will get a workout again as i trawl galleries and see if anyone is interested. also while im at it i will contact more online shops and companies and see if i can gain some interest. its a long process but has to be done, you never known.
  Also the photographing of my designs continues as i try and show my designs in a better light so to speak. i have a decent stock range so it makes sense to get some good images of my designs that i can use and promote myself with. Another area i want to look into is local fairs or markets that i could possibly sell my designs at. i dont know if their are many in norfolk or suffolk but it would be good to try my luck, does anyone know any? long shot i know.
  so basically its going to be busy busy busy really, just trying to get noticed and do what i love, also i need to try and advertise my commission side more i feel as i have done a small commission recently and its certainly a good way to get noticed and improve my skills, So maybe i need to advertise this area of my skillset and see what happens.
  Also im going to keep looking, trying new things and seeing as much as possible, its amazing where inspiration can come from, i bang on about inspiration alot but it really is everywhere and that is wondeful i think.

but the journey continues with renewed optimisim and i have a good feeling about this year. With lots more planned that i will detail later in the year.

oh and my new year resolution? to try and not get distracted by the internet so much.....