design

Design: Charles Dedman, Master Of Marquetry

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We carefully select the products and designers that we love, and this chap is one of our favourites. Today, the spotlight shines on the incredibly talented Charles Dedman. A designer who shows great mastery of both traditional hands-on manufacturing, that blends perfectly with computer aided (CNC) wizardry.

 

Whilst on a school trip in 2016, I met Charles and my eyes first gazed on the stunning marquetry of his Zapotec Cabinet. From that point, I would always keep an on eye on his achievements, and in the years since, he has climbed right to the top of the contemporary design ladder. Mr Dedman is definitely one to watch.

 

Zapotec Cabinet

Zapotec Cabinet

Zapotec Cabinet

I was lucky enough to meet Charles and see the Zapotec in the flesh whilst on a school trip to the New Designers exhibition at the Business Design Centre a few years back. I was blown away by the considered geometry of the laser cut veneers and the hands-on precision with which they had been put together, the perfect modern day marquetry. Using CNC certainly makes the preparation easier, but the overall balance of complex shapes and negative space is very pleasing on the eye. I can say from my own experience of marquetry that piecing together complex veneers is a tricky and time consuming process. 

 

Turner Chair

Turner Chair

Turner Chair

Following Charles on Instagram is real joy, especially if you’re interested in seeing behind the scenes into how his objects are made. He does an excellent job of breaking down the making process so it is easier to understand. You will see that he has had great, and well deserved, success for the innovative dowelled Turner Chair. Prototyped in the studio, now the chair is batch manufactured by an external company but the process is still very hands on. Check out his Instagram feed for a closer look at how they are made, or just marvel at the product in general.

Instagram: @charlesdedman

 

His & Hers Side Table

 
His & Hers Side Tables

His & Hers Side Tables

 

Dedman has undertaken an array of different jobs and commissions like these angled side tables made from rich walnut and ash wood. They come as one overall table or can be split between a husband and wife, or even twins, as two individual side tables next to a bed. What a cool and considered idea.

 

Designer / Maker

Moving from designer/ maker to a designer is a tough step for person who loves their craft. After years of building up the skills to make objects by hand, the objects that'll make your name, to build a brand you'll inevitably hand over construction to a company or computer process. Being able to scale up the manufacturing of a product is key to any businesses growth. Dedman documents this transition well, learning and understanding that to be commercial a certain amount of outsourcing is key, otherwise the designer would never have the time to dream up their next big thing. Facing the honest reality of building a brand in an increasingly competitive and commercial design sector must rely on modern tools. Craft isn't dead but it's a shrinking part of the design process.

 

Criss-Cross Table

 
Criss-Cross Table

Criss-Cross Table

 

A nice example of complex geometry that balances precision-angled walnut with the airy balance of a marble disc that rests on the top. The combination of solid structure below and delicately textured marble is a real pleasure for the eyes.

 

Buffet Desk

Buffet Desk

Buffet Desk

A great example of form following function, a study desk with storage sections built into the table allowing a quick swap between the full flat table and easy-to-access storage. You'll see a sneaky cable climbing up one of the legs, this is a small built-in light box for those pencil tracers. The wooden top is held together by folded steel legs that add a little industrial charm to the otherwise warm and woody finish. 

 

Montado Stool

Montado Stool

Montado Stool

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So named after a Portuguese forest where the cork is grown, the Montado is the perfect combination of sustainability and function. The piece utilises the playful, warm qualities of cork with the utilitarian function of plywood. Together, they form a simple high performance stool that looks great and can easily support a dude doing a handstand. Bravo!

 

If you didn't know Dedman, I'm sure you'll agree he is one to watch. I have been really inspired by Dedman as I share an infinity for good materials that have been processed with skill and attention to detail. His balance of craft and computer is the perfect template for a modern design brand and Ali and I will definite look to Dedman when we start to build our own company. If you'd like to find out more about is projects then head over to his website and social media. Budding designers should definitely take a gander at his Instagram page to. 

Twitter: @CharlesDedman

Instagram: @charlesdedman

web:https://www.charlesdedman.co.uk/

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Kate Trouw: Modernist Jewellery Shaped By Hand

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Imagine beautifully hand-crafted pieces of jewellery, sculptural in form and lightly textured in surface, inspired by architectural modernism.  Well this is the work of architect turned jewellery designer Kate Trouw, one of my favourite U.K. makers.  Geometric and organic shapes are combined to create a contemporary and clean aesthetic, whilst colours are soft creating a lightness to each piece. 

 
Wiggle earrings £35

Wiggle earrings £35

 

Trouw’s background in architecture shines through in each design.  When you are holding a piece of her jewellery it’s as though you are holding a piece of the city in your hand, a construction material. But it’s more than that. Each piece is light, it’s warm to touch.  It feels strong and yet incredibly delicate.  She has sculpted this material into a shape, giving it form with purpose and natural beauty.  With her vision it transcends into a hand-crafted sculpture, a little work of art to wear around your neck.

 
Bound Necklace £120

Bound Necklace £120

 

 

Trouw works primarily with polymer clay, a malleable material which is shaped by hand and set by heat, and the best thing about it is that it’s free of harmful toxins.  The properties of polymer clay is that it’s soft against the skin and, quite beautifully, the material is matt with a sort of egg-shell finish.  The polymer clay gives each piece a hand-produced element to it, rather than being too industrial or too heavy.  The same piece made in a plastic for instance would change the essence entirely.

 

Trouw has a small collection of jewellery pieces available online, which are hand-made to order so there is little wastage involved.  She has recently relocated her studio from London to Scotland, where all items are now made and posted to the U.K. or internationally.  Prices are reasonable, ranging from £15 for small earrings to £120 for a statement necklace, but mostly prices sit somewhere in between.  

 
Amaris £20

Amaris £20

 

 

I own a piece of Trouw’s jewellery myself, with the appeal that it won’t go out of fashion because it’s classically modern in design.  It can be worn on a daily basis and it’s something I take pleasure in wearing.  Mark and I are trying to be more conscious in our decisions of consumption, and believe that buying something that’s environmentally considered and from a local start up designer is a better way to make purchasing choices.  So much of what is available to us on the high street is trend-led so will go out of fashion, and is cheap so will break in a short amount of time, so for me, purchasing items that you care about and that are hand-crafted is surely better for a more sustainable future.  Buy less, and make what you do buy have a purpose.

 
My very own piece of Trouw!  Double barrel necklace £50

My very own piece of Trouw!  Double barrel necklace £50

 

 

You can see Kate Trouw’s jewellery on her website:

www.katetrouw.com

 

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Bauhaus: Back To Art School

This day trip was a bit of a break from the planned schedule. Having visited the slightly underwhelming Bauhaus museum in Berlin, we felt driven to go and see the real thing. Just two hours down the track and on the way to Bavaria we got off the train in the sleepy town of Dessau. A creative and flamboyant melting pot it was not but the green lands, huge parks and suburban living must have once stirred some creative juices. We camped out that night under German thunder and rain, not at all ready for the design storm that was about to hit!

Sitting idle on a quiet street, the Bauhaus School

Sitting idle on a quiet street, the Bauhaus School

The next morning we wondered into town along a grey and sedentary path following the signs to the art school. Suddenly there it was. Tucked away on a quiet residential street, the Bauhaus art school that gave birth to so many conventions of the modern world.

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This building was created by Walter Gropius who was an architect, designer and master marketeer. He conceived the Bauhaus as a place that would allow two things to flourish. One, the process of life, art and technology forming to become design. Secondly, for the school itself to become a show piece for the modern movement of the interwar years.  His intention for the school was to achieve the 'Greatest possible effect with the least possible means'. It's evident that this building, was in many ways, the template for the modern structures of glass and steel. Yet what makes the Bauhaus is all in the detail, slick lines of colour are used to differentiate the different departments of the school. One point from the manifesto, 'Form Following Function', is evident in the lighting, window shutters, structural beams that support but also create shadow and form. The building is expertly designed so that the viewer could never see every view of the three buildings, forcing the viewer to walk around the Bauhaus' different alignments of angles and geometry. This happens on the inside too, metaphorical walls of windows frame the slick white walls of the external structures, whilst flooding light into the building. It's really a beautiful and relaxing space. We can only imagine how inspired the cohort of students' were. 

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Other interesting points were made on how the art school enriched its students, 'healthy mind, healthy body' was a motto. Students took time off their studies to exercise alongside their professors; theatre and performance were encouraged for all students and the Bauhaus masters would often throw parties for their student in the master houses, 10 minutes up the road. Imagine Vassily Kandinsky inviting you over for a cocktail? (Strictly Russian vodka I assume). Gropius believed that students should learn about every field of Art & Design, learners from all courses could take up 'principle' sessions all other areas of of school, which was incredibly forward thinking for it's time. For example, there were some fantastic images of architecture students producing costumes for a performance, interdisciplinary at it's best! 

The Bauhaus across the ages, Nazi occupation and after the war

The Bauhaus across the ages, Nazi occupation and after the war

We also got to rest our parts on the now infamous 'Vassily Chair' designed by a young Marcel Breuer who became the youngest junior professor to ranks. Initially, a talented chair maker who pioneered tubular steel coated in zinc along with machined leather in the following design classic. Later, Breuer went on to become a success architect in the USA.

'Vassily Chair' by Marcel Breuer

'Vassily Chair' by Marcel Breuer

Just a short walk down road leads you to to the masters houses, purpose built modernism for all 8 of the top professors like Gropius, Paul Klee, Kandinsky, Mies Van Der Rohe . Each dwelling personalised by its owner set in a little clearing of pine trees. Serene and beautiful.

Masters' Houses

Masters' Houses

We both felt utterly inspired by this place. It really only functioned for 13 years, after being closed in 1933 from the rise of facism. But in it's short time it set the blue prints for many of the mass manufactured products of the modern age and ultimately went on to usurp American modernism and architecture. Many of the Bauhaus professors moved to the USA to escape the attrocities of Europe.

Nazi propaganda against Weimar liberals, spot Van Der Rohe at the back carrying the Bauhaus!

Nazi propaganda against Weimar liberals, spot Van Der Rohe at the back carrying the Bauhaus!

Anyone interested in the arts needs to visit this place to see how it shaped the modern world. We're not sure if we've been to any place that has more impact on design and architecture than the Bauhaus and because of its location you can spend a day there seeing only a handful of other design minded fellows. Minds blown, heads filled with ideas, go back to (art) school!

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