Twitter Linkedin Facebook Pinterest Newsletter

Posts Tagged ‘Oxford College Furniture’

Wood Awards 2014 – Winners!

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

It does sound good – Winners of the 2014 Wood Awards ‘Bespoke Furniture’ category.

Tony Portus and Ross Fenn of Makers’ Eye, myself and Matthew Burt were at the Carpenters Hall on Tuesday evening for the Wood Awards 2014 announcements. Although we were down to a shortlist of 4 I don’t think any of us really had any idea of whether a project like this one really stood a chance of winning: ‘Bespoke furniture’ tends to imply a ‘one-off’ single maker or a small workshop piece, indeed the other 3 shortlisted pieces tended to reflect that. What we had done through Makers’ Eye was about collective and collaborative effort, much more like the Architectural teams who’s prizes had all been announced earlier in the evening. They had clambered up on the podium with commissioning clients, structural engineers, contractors and suppliers.

So when “Oak Furniture for Dicksoon Poon China Centre, Oxford” was read out, none of us moved at first, I think we’d all been waiting to hear ‘Makers’ Eye’. We did eventually all get up on the podium and were joined by James and Geoff Tyler of Tyler Hardwoods who supplied the oak for the project (it was the second venture onto the stage that night). So an amazing project with an amazing team has been recognised. It’s this element that gives me the biggest pleasure, because we all stuck our necks out and did something unusual.

Tony Portus and I did the design work together, working really hard to not only fulfill the brief but deliver something exquisite – which would be beyond St Hugh’s College’s expectations.

The judges summary put it nicely, “Makers’ Eye created a family of products with a clear design signature to complement the subtle Oriental influence of the architecture.” I’d go further than that – i’d say we’d successfully combined an oriental influence with the quintessential Englishness you’d expect to find in an Oxford College in all of the 177 pieces made by the 4 workshops involved.

Those four workshops; us, Matthew Burt, Waywood and Tim Hawkins each took the elements of the project that best matched their skill set, facilities and of course available capacity. In the case of Waywood for example their CNC knowledge and equipment made them the ideal workshop to take on the 63 wall hanging shelves. We focused on the 63 two-drawer desks for student rooms and 12 folding tables, Matthew Burt the lino topped academics desks and Tim Hawkins the occasional furniture for the break out spaces. Everything was delivered on time and on budget, meeting the client’s high specification on material and design.

Much of the success of the design and manufacturing on this project comes from the management role Makers’ Eye played. Not only did they secure the project against established providers, but also got to grips with the complex contractual negotiations with the clients / contractors on this high-brow, high profile new build project. That allowed the 4 workshops to concerntrate on the making without distraction. There is no doubt it’s a great model to allow smaller workshops to work co-operatively and tackle projects normally ‘out of their reach’.

Throughout the Wood Awards ceremony I was struck by the good judgements made in the various Architectural Project categories. There was some lovely work including the Ditchling Museum of Arts & Crafts, House no.7 on Tiree, and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe in London. There are plenty more projects worthy of mentions, some were winners, some not. It’s hugely encouraging to see wood used in so many ways on so many exciting projects. The RIBA Journal has a good run down of all the projects (including the furniture categories) with images and is well worth a look…

The Bespoke Furniture shortlist was very strong, as was the Production Made Furniture category, it’s great to see UK timber furniture design looking so bouyant. We pipped the Barnsley Workshop, Shaw Stephens and NMHK co. to the prize and perhaps it was that new take on collaboration that made this project stand out? Then again perhaps it is just a lovely bit of design and making by small workshops at the top of their game, supported by a dynamic, light touch team at Makers’ Eye plotting our course through tricky waters.

Needless to say we are all delighted at Simon Thomas Pirie to have ended 2014 in such a positive way after putting so much work into this project. Saying that there is little time to reflect as there are a dozen new projects to design, make, manage and fit. John puts it nicely in this video except…

If you are still unfamiliar with Makers’ Eye do take a look at their comprehensive website full of the best of British furniture making and design: www.makerseye.co.uk

Maker’s Eye – St Hugh’s College, Oxford Project

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

We now have interior images from the newly opened Dickson Poon China Study Centre at St Hugh’s College Oxford, the project we were so deeply involved with designing and making earlier this year.

The project was won and led by the team at Maker’s Eye but it involved 4 bespoke furniture workshops, including us. It’s a story of collaboration and making the most of very experienced designer-makers with the specialist workshop facilities and decades of knowledge. Maker’s Eye won the job against stiff competition because we were able to design a bespoke range of very cost effective furniture specifically for the new China Centre.

Of course they are all strikingly beautiful pieces of furniture; quintessentially English as you would expect for something made for an Oxford College, yet with a hint of oriental design that echos this buildings purpose. The whole project comprised of 63 desks and shelves for the students rooms, as well as academics desks, folding study tables and occasional furniture for other spaces within the new build project, designed by David Morley Architects. Click here to see more images of the building on the DMA website.

We were initially involved in the design of all the pieces, but in particular the signature piece of the collection – the 2 drawer desk. In the end we made 63 of these desks and 12 similarly detailed folding tables, all in solid European oak. While the desk is clearly the signature piece of the collection, we are also particularly proud of the folding study tables and the engineering solutions on the folding leg frames. There is nothing else like it on the market – solid oak with no locking brace to interfere with leg space. Having used one here in our office for meetings we can vouch for how solid they are to work on.

Together, Maker’s Eye and the 4 workshops involved – us, Matthew Burt (acamadics’ desks), Waywood (wall shelves) and Timothy Hawkins (breakout room coffee tables), all shared ideas and expertise to deliver the project to the highest standards in an extremely tight timeframe, on time and on budget. It’s an exciting model with huge potential – through Makers Eye we can now take on much larger projects for architects, main contractors and institutions.

The furniture has been extremely well received by St Hugh’s, with the College Bursar commenting “We are delighted with the furniture Maker’s Eye designed and built for the Dickson Poon China Centre Building. This was a high spec project, and it was essential that the furniture we commissioned was entirely sympathetic to the building. All who have seen the furniture have admired it greatly. It has real presence and lends a beauty and an elegance to the concrete finish of the building.”

The cherry on the cake for all of us is being shortlisted in the ‘Bespoke Furniture’ category for the Wood Awards 2014. The desk and shelves from the project will be on the Wood Awards stand at 100% Design in London from 17-20 September, Stand L390. The aim of the Wood Awards is to recognise, encourage and promote outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood in building or furniture projects with the UK.

This project certainly fulfils those criteria, but I hope that back story of collaboration and collective expertise helps win on the day. We are really proud of our involvement in this project and the design work that we put in with Tony Portus of Maker’s Eye. Click here to visit the Makers’ Eye Website…

There is a more detailed run down of all the 30 shortlisted architectural and furniture projects, including a slideshow, on the RIBA Journal site.

Maker’s Eye / St Hugh’s College, Oxford Project Shortlisted for Wood Awards

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

We are very excited that the Maker’s Eye / St Hugh’s College project we were so deeply involved with earlier this year has been shortlisted in the Bespoke Furniture category in this years Wood Awards, the ‘Wood Oscars’. The aim of the Wood Awards is to recognise, encourage and promote outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood in building or furniture project with the UK.

The project is a great story in itself, one of collaboration and making the most of a number of very experienced designers with the specialist workshop facilities. Maker’s Eye won the job against stiff competition because they were able to design a bespoke range of very cost effective furniture specifically for the new Dickson Poon China Centre at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. This comprised of desks and shelves for the students rooms, as well as academics desks, folding tables and occasional furniture for other spaces within the new build project, designed by David Morley Architects.

We were involved in the design of all the pieces but in particular the signature piece of the collection – the 2 drawer desk. In the end we made 63 of these desks and 12 similarly detailed folding tables, all in solid European oak. While the desk is clearly the star piece, we are also particularly proud of the folding tables and the engineering solutions on the folding leg frames. There is nothing else like it on the market – solid oak with no locking brace to interfere with leg space. Having used one here in the office we can vouch for how solid they are to work on.

Together, Maker’s Eye and the 4 workshops involved – us, Matthew Burt, Waywood and Timothy Hawkins, all shared ideas and expertise to deliver the project to the highest standards in an extremely tight timeframe, on time and on budget. It’s an exciting model with huge potential – through Makers Eye we can now take on much larger projects for architects, main contractors and institutions.

The cherry on the cake for all of us is being shortlisted for the Wood Awards 2014. The desk and hopefully other elements of the project will be on the Wood Awards stand at 100% Design in London from 17-20 September.

We are up against some stiff competition with the other 3 very good entries in the category, but I hope that back story of collaboration and collective expertise helps win the day. Of course they are also strikingly beautiful pieces of furniture; quintessentially English as you would expect for something made for an Oxford College, yet with a hint of oriental design that befits this project.

We are really proud of our involvement in this project and the design work that we put in with Tony Portus of Maker’s Eye. We’d like to thank Tony Portus and Ross Fenn at Maker’s Eye for having the vision to secure this most prestigious of projects and of course for entering the Wood Awards.

There is a more detailed run down of all the 30 shortlisted architectural and furniture projects, including a slideshow, on the RIBA Journal site.

Images by Double Exposure Photographic.