Tables that give the impression of stains and cubes made out of newspapers have captured headlines for furniture designer Jay Watson. From his workshop in Oxfordshire, Watson creates bespoke and commercial pieces. Watson took a slightly different route into design; one which has shaped not only his approach, but also his adaptability towards different challenges. Watson grew up in Australia and became an apprentice in the furniture trade at the age of 18. The company was small and worked with interior designers and architects, focussing on small projects, but specialising in lots of different media. A wide range of industrial processes, all contributed to equipping Watson with a strong manufacturing background and an understanding of how things work.
Watson stayed on after completing his apprenticeship, and spent about eight years on the manufacturing side before moving to the UK, 14 years ago. With a small studio in London, Watson plugged away, attended design shows, and won an honourable mention in Belgium. After that came Milan, and finally, his breakthrough moment – Watson’s first proper British show a year ago where he unveiled the Linger a Little Longer table.
“It went crazy in the press. It went viral online, with thousands of hits overnight on our website.”
The table and matching benches, with a thermo chromic finish, is all black, but responds to heat, so fingers, bums and other animate and inanimate objects leave temporary marks which disappear once the table cools to its normal temperature. The effect is of water marks. The finished product was much harder to achieve than Watson, or anyone else would have thought.
“Unless I had a manufacturing background, this project would never have seen the light of day. It’s not seen as something that’s possible by manufacturers.”
Watson used it to turn the approach to design upside down and create an active dialogue.
“I chose the style, because the kind of people who go for such a stark, minimalist design tend to be more pedantic about everything needing to be clean. It’s like mocking that slightly and saying, ‘Lighten up.’ It’s there to be used.”
Watson’s newspaper stool is also a hit. Made entirely of newspapers, and priced under £300, it holds wide appeal for the eco-conscious, egalitarian design enthusiast. Watson is so passionate about it, he offers DIY instructions so customers can build their own at home. And, in case you’re wondering, a few have devoted the eight or so hours it takes to build one.
Watson takes a softer touch with his Anemoi line. There are Corian lights and bowls in the collection, which looks threaded waves, casting shadows through the open strands, almost creating a 2D object.
Throughout his work, Watson creates talking points, engaging the consumer with the design values, be it the watermarks on Linger a Little Longer, the old headlines of the newspaper stool, or the shadows from the Anemoi lights. Jay Watson will be showing at the London Design Festival to continue the conversation.