TID : Lets start with the person behind the amazing furniture designer ?
CD : I (Charlie) am an independent Designer-Maker based on the South Coast in Hampshire. I strive to produce contemporary honest furniture, which takes an evolutionary rather than revolutionary approach to design, refining the form and function rather than trying to redefine a product. I feel responsible for the pieces I create. Every decision from build quality to timberselection and workshop emissions are scrutinised against my practise values. I endeavour to take my clients and peers on a journey of discovery from tree to finished piece.
TID : How did you decide to be a designer ? Who were the people/ places/ incidents that influenced your decision?
CD : As a son of property restorer I grew up surrounded by beautiful historic craftsmanship. I learnt first hand that the things worth having, are worth waiting for. My dad would give a project as much time as its needed to be done well. This doesn’t mean he was slow, but he valued the process and maintained a high-level of quality.
A furniture design degree, followed by a cabinet-making course really shaped my approach to design and how I look at my surroundings. At Kingston University, I learnt to think creatively, experiment with materials and problem solve. On the cabinet making course, I made these skills viable and rooted in timber.It would be very hard to progress in this industry without the dual understanding.
Free from education, I took the dive a solo designer-maker. And nearly 12 months on, I love the professional more than I thought possible. Currently midway through the excellent Craft Council Hothouse mentoring scheme, I have been exposed to industry experts in marketing, finance, PR, design and presentation. This has been invaluable to my practise; there are so many other factors to a successful company besides talent.
TID : What kind of projects have you been working on?
CD : Alongside commissions, I am exploring an emerging field in the design-craft industry. I call it Craft-Tech, the theme of updating traditional processes with modern tooling. This can be seen in my laser cut marquetry Zapotec Cabinet. This advance in tooling means I can evolve a design much faster and be more responsive. Traditional processes and finishing techniques are still used where appropriate.
I am very interested in design for production. Working with manufacturers to produce a range of furniture for retail. This brings new challenges in streamline tooling and design to cut cost but also means I keep designing new products without being bogged down in the repetition of the same item. The Turner Carver chair I made last year received a lot of positive press, so I am working with renowned chairmakers Sitting Firm on a range of chairs, stools and a table working on the same construction and design aesthetic.
TID: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced so far in the projects you have worked on?
CD : Its funny, that in this industry as a novice you are expected to design, make, promote, sell and finance. I don’t have an issue with this bar the last – finance. There is a reason I have been drawn to creative subjects from a young age, I really hate finance! My first employee will be an accountant.Fortunately working with a manufacturer I can usually offer a more affordable end product, which is largely determined by their tooling and end retailer. My involvement and fee is largely reduced but means I can focused on my strengths – creating new products.
TID : How do you weave in sustainability/practicality/day to day life into your projects
CD : Working in a shared workshop, we share knowledge and timber. So offcuts are turned into new products or firewood to heat the space and save on electricity. The majority of my timber is sustainability grown in Britain and sourced from a local timber merchant. I am also a true believer in sustainability in longevity. If something is well made, considered and timeless in its appeal, then it will live for generations. What is more sustainable than that? Disposable trend-focused furniture is one of the most unsustainable.
TID : What are you showcasing in this year’s show?
CD : At New Designer One Year On, I will be launching my Turner Range alongside a few more speculative pieces. The Turner Range will consist of an oak six-person table, stool, bar stool,dining chair and a carver chair. They all share the same ‘stepped-down’ dowel joint construction, with varying dowel thickness. Some also boast beautiful steam-bent components, classic to the windsor chair style. All of the pieces have been designed, refined and outsourced to Sitting Firm for batch production. Hopefully they will appear to retailers. My Zapotec Cabinet and cork Montado Stool/Side Table will also share the stand at One Year On.
Photo Courtesy : Charles Dedman