New Designers returns tomorrow for its 32nd edition. The show, based at the Business Design Centre in Angel showcases fresh thinking talent from the UK’s leading design courses and the most entrepreneurial new businesses. We at The Holborn are excited to be part of this year’s show.
3,000 of this year’s most creative and innovative design graduates from across the nation will exhibit at the show. Alongside them will be 75 emerging designers in their first year of business, selected for the entrepreneurial showcase One Year On. And we at The Holborn have sat down with a handful of these designers for a series of interviews in the build up to launch of the show. This week, on the eve of the show, we welcome furniture designer maker Tim Evershed.
What made you want to become a furniture maker? Essentially – why do you do what you do?
I had previously trained as a Product Designer before I became distracted for a little while by working as a boat builder. I enjoyed it, waking up each day and heading to the marina to work on 60ft luxury yachts. It was a nice life but quite often the work was not actually as glamorous as it sounds and I started to realise that I didn’t want to be doing it for the rest of my life. I saved up some money so I could re-train and was very close to going down the route of wooden boats, but eventually settled on an ‘Introduction to furniture making’ course. The course really energised me and it gave new context to many of the design skills I had learnt at University. It’s the most rewarding thing to be able to realise your own concepts to your own standards of making.
Tell us a bit about your design processes – what have been your chief influences when designing?
It will start by having an idea and making some sketches. Then I will put it away for a few days, a week, a month for it to tick over in the subconscious of my mind before coming back to it with a fresh perspective. If I still think it’s a good idea, then I’ll maybe mock it up in 3D Cad before producing some rough technical drawings. I don’t aim to put a lot of time into these as I know once I start making there will be some development needed. You can never really know how it will turn out until its standing in front of you. I find inspiration everywhere. Woodlands, architecture, a detail on an old piece of furniture in a charity shop. I like to see harmony in a piece of furniture and it all comes down to a balance between purpose, proportion, material and form.
Sustainability is important to your work? Why is that and why more broadly is it important in the wider world of design?
I think I became very aware, and perhaps even felt guilty when I witnessed some of the wasteful practices in the Boatbuilding industry (I’m sure they’re not the only ones). It forced me to consider my values and how I would incorporate them into my own business. No one is telling me what to do now, so the responsibility lies with me to run my practice in an environmentally conscious way. Plastic doesn’t age well, we’ve all seen what it looks like after a few years of heavy use. On the other hand, natural materials bare the markings of age well and wood in particular can be sanded and made to look like new. So why do we buy plastic goods knowing full well that they will eventually be disposed of? More and more we are hearing now about plastics in our water, in the food chain – and it won’t go away. I find it comforting that I could leave many of my products on a forest floor and after a period of time they would be returned to the life cycle of the forest. The same could not be said for things made of plastic.
What makes your products ‘well-made’ – tell us all about your production processes, and the quality & provenance of your materials?
I see myself as a designer and cabinet maker in equal measures, so although my work is functionally driven and without fussy details, you will still find the occasional hand crafted dovetailed drawer. Working to a high standard is important to me – Simple designs leave no room for poor workmanship, but they do allow the timber to have its voice. When you first selected that board at the timber yard, there was something about it that caught your eye. You had at least some connection to it whether conscious or subconscious and you want the finished piece to reflect that. You want the viewer to share that same affinity. I think all furniture makers would agree with this in varying degrees.
You are part of the One Year On exhibition at New Designers? How has the past year been and what role has last year played over the past 12 months?
Exhibiting at New Designers One Year On has given me a goal to work towards this year. It’s a scary thought – that my work will be on show to the public, press, retailers and manufacturers for the first time, and it has encouraged me to really push myself. To make, refine, and make again in order to produce a cohesive, market ready, affordable collection of work. Not everything has gone smoothly. Some projects have had to be shelved but on the whole I’m pleased with the direction my work has gone in and I’m looking forward to selling in the second half of this year.
This year, participating in the Hot house programme run by the Crafts Council has had a profound effect on how I operate my business. It has given me the opportunity to learn from the combined knowledge of fellow participants and focus my intentions for Brook studio.
Who have been your biggest influences in developing your business?
There are certainly a lot of people’s work I admire but I find it can be detrimental to pay too much attention to what other businesses are doing. No two craft businesses are the same and what applies to one may not apply to another – so it is hopeless to compare. I think you have to figure out the thing that works for you and run with it, which is easier said than done. Possibly the greatest influence is that of my young family. It’s great to have ambition, to produce complex and labour intensive works – but working like this can produce pieces that are suited to very specific tastes. I think my designs show careful consideration and restraint, so I hope they have wider appeal.
If you could offer any advice for designers exhibiting for the first time this year what would it be?
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it – So it’s vital to be yourself and regard your brand as an extension of yourself. Talk about your work with the same energy that you would talk about one of your heroes’ – no one knows your work better than you do.
What is in the future for you and your company?
My goal is to work on exciting and ambitious bespoke commissions from my workshop as well as designing and developing collections for volume manufacture by working with well known British retailers. That would keep me happy on all fronts. In the immediate future I plan to keep sourcing interesting timbers to make furniture from and to keep developing the Brook studio aesthetic and brand.
Interview by Morgan Hamilton-Griffin
New Designers : Part 1: 28 June – 01 July | Part 2: 05 – 08 July
Business Design Centre, Islington, London, N1
Use code NDHOLBORN to get 25% off day tickets in advance for £10.50 instead of £16 on the door. Book online now at https://goo.gl/wUUkY2