Before becoming a furniture maker I worked as a university researcher in biophysics. This was a fascinating subject but for me lacked a practical element. I find being a furniture maker is a perfect blend of the abstract and the practical.
A successful furniture designer-maker must be a seamless blend of artist and scientist, an artist to produce beautiful and coherent designs and a scientist to realise these designs in an effective and efficient manner. I find the artistic side particularly challenging, but am continually intrigued by the principles that underlie ‘good’ design. Surprisingly most design principles stem from mathematical principles so the scientist in me isn’t entirely lost. The aim of my designs is not to ‘wow’ but to quietly impress through clean lines and simple forms. Similarly, my designs embrace our design heritage. The desire for new or novel designs can often tempt one to ignore the principles of sound design.
Once the making of a piece begins I must focus on how to make the piece in the most accurate and efficient manner possible. However, the challenge is knowing when to work with precision and when to work in a more organic, sympathetic fashion. In some case precision must always win; only when a drawer is made with the utmost accuracy will it effortlessly glide open. In other cases the decision is harder; should an edge be left crisp, or should it be softened to complement a particular grain feature? Too far in one direction perhaps results in austerity. Too far in the other and the structure and form of the piece is lost. So whilst the scientist in me isn’t lost during the design, the artist certainly shouldn’t be lost in the making.
In 2015 I was elected a fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsman. Founded in 1887 from the beginnings of the Arts and Crafts the society remains one of the most prestigious craft organisations.