Futurespace Magazine rounds up the big names and emerging talent of the furniture design world and talks to young designers about the importance of traditional craftsmanship and sustainable design
Design Junction is known for bringing together the hottest new talent in the industry and established names from around the world in one impressive celebration of international class and style. While it is important to show diversity, one thing that stands out in this year’s show is the emergence of British furniture-making talent that has (pardon-the-pun), come out of the woodwork over the last decade.
It seems only in the last 10 years there has been a fast-moving resurgence of traditional craftsmanship, particularly among young people, and this year it is clear to see that we have the best of British talent on display.
These young designers seem to recognise the consumer’s demand for furniture that will not only stand the test of time in the style stakes, but also because of the quality of the solid craftsmanship that goes into creating them. Many base their work on ‘honest’ forms of furniture and this year’s show talent is unmistakably influenced by pared-back design principles from Scandinavian countries, Japan and traditional British makers like Shaker. For these emerging designers and makers, it’s also a question of ethics and responsibility – it’s not just about making aesthetically pleasing pieces, it’s about safeguarding our future too.
Here’s our best of British top picks:
Established in 2000, Modus Furniture is an award-winning British furniture manufacturer, working with both internationally-acclaimed designers and emerging young talent to produce high-quality, covetable pieces. At this year’s show, Modus will launch 10 exciting new products focusing on the work environment from an innovative storage system to a versatile side chair. Modus will also be hosting a PechaKucha night at Design Junction on Friday 21 September.
Bethan Gray has been on the scene a while and is now one of Britain’s most celebrated young furniture designers, perhaps best known for her livable and affordable designs for John Lewis. Her most recent venture has led her to team up with furniture developer Thomas Turner to form the delectable G&T. The collaboration focuses on the design and manufacture of contemporary yet timeless families of elegant products using intriguing and seductive combinations of natural materials, adding exciting and elegant detail. The Brogue Side Table is a particularly good example, where traditional shoe production meets contemporary, yet durable design.
Created to complement an already-successful interior design practice, Assemblyroom is more than qualified to assess what constitutes as a quality piece of furniture. Informed and inspired by their previous interior design experience, Peter Wall and Cathy Spooner decided the best way to get the furniture they wanted would be to make the pieces themselves. Their classic designs, manufactured by the best British craftsmen using the highest quality materials on offer, are all carefully handmade to order, ensuring you get a lasting piece of British design.
Case is a special kind of furniture company – one that balances mass-market furniture with first-rate design principles, yet without the imitation and mediocrity usually associated with mass market furniture production. Established in 2006 by Paul Newman, the company has worked with big names such as Robin Day and Matthew Hilton (who will be exhibiting new products at Design Junction), but also emerging designers like Marina Bautier, who will also be showing her work at the show. Case has developed an extended network of trading partners that are able to manufacture and distribute on a global scale.
Q&A: Futurespace Magazine talks to young furniture maker Paul de Zwart from Another Country about the importance of sustainable design and the company’s new product launches
Traditional furniture implies a method of sustainable build and sourcing of renewable materials. In a world at peril, the young generation may well be turning to these methods as part of a more responsible relationship with the world in which they live.
Why is Design Junction an important event for young designers like yourself?
The venue has an intimate feel (although it is much bigger this year) and is well curated. It is in the top five venues to visit during LDF and one is surrounded by like-minded brands and designers.
What products will you be launching?
Some new additions to our ever popular Series One collection including a sofa, shelving and side tables, along with a new coffee table and side table for the Series Two collection. We also presenting a number of new accessories (desk top and candlesticks) and previewing a textiles collection.
Tell us about your eco principles when it comes to making furniture?
We have a bottom-up approach to everything we do. What this means is that everything that we do is guided by sustainable principles, from brand collateral to logistics. To give some examples: our business cards are generic (and blank) and only get used when stamped by the relevant employee. This means we never need to throw away unused or obsolete cards. We use paper tape and only pack with cardboard, paper and biodegradable bubble wrap. We have a catalogue design that uses a generic cover and product cards; this means it can be used for all collections and individual products can be taken out or added without the need to throw away out-of-date catalogues. All our wood is FSC certified and we endeavour to design furniture that packs flat, thereby minimising transport volume. Finally, all our upholstery is either 100% natural and/or organic. To make organic mattresses is very difficult (it gets supplied to us) so this is a real USP.
What is your work influenced by?
We are influenced by four schools and design traditions: Shaker, British craft, Japanese woodworking and mid-century Scandinavian. Our Series Two collection has further been inspired by Belgian interior architecture.