Last Friday, 30th June, I arranged to meet designer Li Yeung from Deadgood, a furniture company based in the UK that mainly focus on the contemporary furniture market. The reason I wanted to arrange a meeting was to get some sort of guidance on the furniture market, to show some of my work and get some advice as to where he thought I sat in the market for what I am trying to achieve. Li was very open and honest about the world of not only furniture design but design as a whole and gave me some sound advice to move on further in my design journey with.
At first I asked him about the contract market as that was a sector I was looking into. He explained that there are a lot more bodies involved than just client and designer.
Architect - interior designers - specialists+
From what I gathered, it's more about interior designers studying the layout, knowing the number of tables and stools they need and specifying the brand. Then it's over to the specialists to find the best price for what they are looking for. The economic benefit was a recurring theme, especially with the contract market. He said the contract market is very price sensitive, meaning that companies will often contract at trade standard, double the manufacture, for something in a store than would be sold at a retail price, 4x the manufacture price. Meaning something can be sold double in a shop than if it were contracted. He reminded me that 'design is a business' and it's about making money - we all have to make money. However, he said environmental concerns were big in the contract industry, but the ethical not so much. He believed that time was still to come but there is definitely a market for what I am trying to achieve, even if it is niche.
I showed Li some of my work and tried to explain in full what I am trying to achieve from the cork to the message, with the ethical message pulling everything together. He thoroughly encouraged for what I attempting to achieve now in my final major that I should achieve the best representation of myself through this project. He said in university you have the most freedom to do almost exactly what you want with no compromises like you would if you were working for a business that had a budget and other barriers. My masters was used to express myself, which I agreed with and said that is what I felt I had gained the most from it. He suggested maybe taking things I do not agreed with and turning them on its head such as industrial processes. For the masters, my authenticity will out way the feasibility. The feasibility will come with experience.
The Well Proven Furniture began with the discovery that within industry between 50-80% waste is created in processing raw timber into usable products. We decided to try and make a new material from this waste that usually comes in the form of sawdust, shavings or chippings. We discovered a bizarre reaction between this wood waste and bio-resin where the mixture expands up to five times its original volume into a strong, lightweight foamed material.
He recommend a few designers a projects I may be interested in, some I knew and some I didn't. James Shaw is a London based designer that works with wood and bio-waste as a seat alternative in his furniture. He also mentioned Ilse Crawford's Cork limited edition IKEA cork collection and Jasper Morrison cork stools that I have loved.
jasper morrison stools
The three robust members of the Cork Family stand firmly, making them suited for use as side tables or stools. They benefit from the advantageous natural properties of cork: comparatively lightweight and extremely durable, they also have a velvety surface that is pleasant to touch.
This meeting made me much less dreaded about the 'after university'. I have learned sticking to my authenticity is what is most important, especially at this stage where I have so much freedom. Afterwards I can look into my options, whether than be my voice in a bigger company, ethics and environmental in manufacture, my own small scale production of my own products - who knows? One thing I do know is this will spark the light in my design,
With Li's advice I will make sure my portfolio reflects my person and also will try to be more open to meetings and calling companies personally rather than arranging via email that can be ignored. I am going to achieve a clear representation of my belief system in my final project and am aiming to showcase this in the final piece: whatever it may be.
looking for me?