Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The meaning of bespoke

As a designer, I keep myself informed about what's going on in the design world. I follow different design blogs, I receive some newsletters, and it means that I discover maybe 20 new designs of furniture every day. In a way this is good to see all this creativity, but I must say this is way too much... It reminds me an article in the International Herald Tribune last year (probably at the same period last year, during the Milan furniture fair), called "Does the world need another chair?". And the answer might be, well, I'm not too sure...

I follow it by personal interest, absolutely not to get inspiration, more to avoid to do something similar to something already existing, without even knowing it.
If most of these designs are good, very few create a big emotion for me. I mean, it is beautiful, more or less functional, but is it really different from the 1000's of other new designs? Isn't it just a new version of something we saw 2, 10 or 60 years ago?
So I can imagine how a potential customer can get lost when starting a research on the internet for a piece of original furniture. If you are lucky, you will find something that directly appeals to you, but most likely you will see too many products, without understanding why this one costs 800 euros, while this other one, looking similar, costs 5000...
This oversupply convinced me about the meaning of bespoke furniture, about its reason to be for a potential customer. I used to think that the main thing was to own something unique, but after all, if you don't buy from a big chain store, it is very unlikely that you will find your furniture at someone else's home, even if it is produced in thousands or millions. But these furnitures are anonymous, and they will look like that in your eyes very soon, as beautiful as they can be.
It is there that the difference stands with bespoke furniture. Dealing with a designer-maker, participating in the creative process, seeing the furniture taking form, will give a personality to your furniture, and thus to your home or your office. Furniture with a meaning, or, in David Savage words, furniture with a soul...

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Steven Withycombe

Steven Withycombe is a furniture designer-maker from Seattle, USA. He sees furniture as interactive art, and as he says, the most enjoyable part of the process of creating furniture is the reaction of the people to its presence. He likes to incorporate found and discarded material in his work, and his designs blend different styles, often adding a touch of humour as in the "Queen of Spades" bench.