Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Crazy Design

I recently purchased a copy of Crazy Design, a product design book by Beatrix Foisil-Penther and Claire Chamot (published by Vivays Publishing). 

I was privileged to have my Spider (Ulwembu) coffee table featured in this publication. The book features many well known designers such as Marcel Wanders, Ron Arad, Fabio Novembre, Juegen Bey and the Bouroullec brothers, amongst others. 

This book is very personal to me since it documents many products that were being designed and produced at the time that we (my brother Gary and I) were designing and manufacturing our furniture.  Furthermore, many of the products in this book I have touched and, in some cases, actually met the people behind the design.










Thursday, 23 October 2014

Slackers

I have always been drawn to adrenaline sports, slack lining is one of them. These images are of a gathering of slack liners in Monte Piana in the Dolomite's. The images are pretty amazing, what interests me is the simplicity of the materials used to create this new adrenaline sport. Photographs were by S Wahlhuetter, B Mohai and Antigravity photography.






Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Garden storage, have it made

In my opinion, bicycles are one of the best forms of transport.  In most European cities cycling is the cheapest, healthiness and most environmentally friendly way to commute.  However, a bicycle can also be a nightmare to store, especially in homes that lack a garage and adequate indoor space.

I was asked by an old client (living in Inner London) whether I had any ideas regarding a storage solution for his extensive bike collection which was, at the time, being housed in his kitchen and lounge area.  Having previously completed work on this client's home, I was aware that his garden (approximately 25 square meters) was an area that was, largely, unused.  I therefore suggested storing the bicycles in the garden.  The idea was to still make the garden a pleasant out door space for the family but include safe dry storage for bikes and other sporting equipment and provide seating.

I designed four galvanized boxes to protect the bikes and keep them dry.  These metal boxes were then clad with cedar.  I used cedar because this wood requires no extra care due to the properties of the wood and is largely insect repellant.  Furthermore, the cedar will eventually age to a lovely silvery grey colour. Within these boxes I designed two planters for ornamental purposes.

The end result has produced storage for up to six bikes, along with 2.8 meters of storage for sporting and garden equipment.  The top of the storage is designed to be at sitting height which can be used along with a table and chairs.  There is a planter at each end of the seating area in which a shrubs are now situated in order to break up the horizontal lines of the boxes. 










Friday, 26 September 2014

Cotswold tree house

Why I love building tree houses

As a child, my fondest memories were that of unstructured play in spaces which were created and constructed by myself and my siblings.  These spaces were not frequented by adults nor designed by them. When I build tree houses for children I look back at this time for my inspiration.  A tree house should be a place for a child to escape the adult world and live out their fantasies; to play, climb and enjoy being the special time that is childhood.

I have been designing products for many years but nothing beats designing and building a tree house. Starting with a rough idea (based on what the garden and tree has to offer) you then need to address the client's needs and budget. The initial design work and material commissioning are part of the standard design process, but then you enter the building process. This is the part that I enjoy most; all the planing has to take a back seat as the reality of working with what nature has to offer takes precedence. These challenges need solutions that will not stray far from the original design. Building tree houses challenges ones design and creative ability like no other discipline of design I have encountered.

The time spent building a tree house allows one to experience the sounds, smells, and sights of the garden around you.  I have always loved nature, preferring to spend as much time as possible outdoors. Growing up in Africa, tree climbing was something that I did daily; whether it was to gain a better view, pick fruit, or purely to sit in and feel the fresh breeze of an in-coming storm. Climbing trees provided a different perspective of the world. The shear variety of trees, their size and form, make them one of my favorite living forms from the natural world.

Whether it is on rock or in a tree, nothing beats the thrill of climbing.  When building tree houses the body positions that you need to achieve in order to complete a project are often akin to the best moves needed to climb a difficult route.  I feel comfortable off the ground.  The fitness that is gained from climbing benefits the whole body.

The process of working the materials to develop a tree house is, for me, like entering a state of meditation.  I often work alone and I find myself at the end of a day thinking "where has the day gone?".  I leave tired but with an enormous feeling of well being.














Thursday, 19 June 2014

Having it made.

This is first phase of a project to create bicycle and sports equipment storage in a largely disused small urban garden. The customer and his young family are avid cyclists, and with 8 bikes to store he was looking for a solution. The discussion started with ways to store the bikes in the house, I could see that this was not going to work and suggested the garden.  The challenge I set my self was a to store the bikes and equipment and make the garden more appealing for the family so that they would use this space. I will follow up this post once we have the project completed.









Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Sculptors studio Deptford

When we moved our studio from Camden Town to Deptford one of the first people we met was a sculptor/artist and a great welder, Simon Black, who also happens to be an avid cyclist. Simon and I have worked together on a number of projects, a trip down to his studio is an adventure, loads to see and touch, always with a great sound track. As a designer working closely with makers is a must, what you are able to learn from these craftsmen can not be taught in a class, and for me, taught in a way that I can absorb. We are about to work on another project together, I will be posting images of that as soon as we are done.







Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Having it made.

As a designer I have always been surrounded by craftsmen, workshops and studios. I find these places  amazing to visit, they help paint a picture of the process that is undertaken by the maker. This love of the process is where I have gained the knowledge to be able to have things made. There are three main criteria in getting a product made.  Solid concept and design, knowledge of materials and having the right person make it. Over the past 20 years I have learned and continue to learn from the makers I know, this knowledge has taught me two key skills in the designing and making process.  One is knowing how things are made, two is being able to ask the right questions of the maker in order to have your design made.
The images below are of products I made for a company in North London called Mail plus More. The budget on this job was tight and being that the company was involved in post and packages, cardboard was the way to go. These hand made products are not as refined as many of the products we see today, but it is this that gives them their character and soul.
If you have an idea or need something made please contact me, you will not believe what can be achieved.










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