RICHARD WOODS

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Richard Woods is the British artist and designer behind the big, cartoony, painted wood grain furniture for HAY and Established & Sons, and the forest-themed 'Tree Trunk' ceramics at Wrong for Hay. His latest installation, for the current Folkestone Triennial, consists of a series of six mini bungalows dotted around the landscape in unusual locations. Here he talks to DesignFizz about architecture, furniture and his love for wood.

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

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Growing up, did you always have an affinity for making things?
Fishing was a big thing in my childhood. My dad was always preparing to go fishing and I remember being into making the fishing floats. They were shaped using sandpaper out of balsa wood and then painted on the top with bright colours. The bottoms were always painted with Rustins black satin paint.

What did you study?
I studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. I have always been a ‘maker’ and hands-on. Looking back at what I made as a student, it was always large. It always involved lots of wood and lots of paint, so maybe nothing much has changed since then!

How would you describe your style?
I think my work is always a cartoon. This allows it to sit physically within the real world while appearing to be visually separate from it. The works are sometimes interactive (floors, furniture). Sometimes they are ‘don’t touch!’ (sculptures and paintings). Whether you can pick them up or they are just for looking at, I think they play equally with our notions of taste and class – and hopefully have a sense of humour.

ABOVE: The new 'Wrongwoods' collection for Established & Sons, 2017
BELOW: 'Tree Trunk' vases for Wrong for HAY, 2015

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ABOVE: 'Bench Press' seating for Established & Sons, 2009

What unites your projects?
After studying sculpture at the Slade, I worked as a carpenter and general builder for about seven years. That was during the early 90s and the whole world seemed to be laying laminate flooring (and I seemed to be laying most of it!). My work is a fusion of what I experienced at college and then the work I did to earn money when I left. I would laminate floors during the day and then found myself printing my own versions of wood patterns in the studio at night.

What materials intrigue you?
Wood.

What’s your art/design ethos?
I’m interested in the spaces where art, design and architecture meet. There used to be an unthinking mantra that art and design somehow needed to be separated out. This was enthusiastically adopted by commercial galleries because it’s a handy way of keeping art more expensive. It’s a dogma that’s been harmful to visual arts, so if I have an ethos of any type, it would be to keep these worlds close and not separate them.

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ABOVE: Woods' mini 'Holiday Home' bungalows are dotted around the coastal town of Folkestone for the fourth Folkestone Triennial, a wry comment on second home ownership and the UK's housing crisis

What inspired you to take part in the Folkestone Triennial?
I visited the site and became excited by an idea that I felt would resonate locally and nationally. (Click here to see our post on the Folkestone Triennial).

What do you reckon is the solution to holiday homes and their effect on villages?
Build more wooden houses that are heated with wood-burning stoves.

Any other recent projects?
I am making a new public artwork commissioned by Birmingham's Eastside Projects and Banbury Council. The work involves hundreds of replica houses, copied from a nearby housing estate. Our tiny model houses will be attached to a canopy of trees in a small wood near the estate. The idea was to give the houses the best back gardens that a house could ever possibly have.

ABOVE: New designs created with Sebastian Wrong for Established & Sons' 'Wrongwoods' collection include the vibrant 'Palm Springs' dining table (top), in a sunny five-colour palette inspired by the Californian city, and a low level monochrome/grey sideboard and dining table

What’s next?
We have been working on some new tables with UK designer Sebastian Wrong. Our collaboration, which has been developing for 10 years now, is called ‘Wrongwoods’. Previewed at 2017's recent London Design Festival, they're the first new products we've made with Established & Sons for five years, so it will be really interesting to see what the world makes of them.

What’s currently exciting you in design or style?
dRMM's wooden pier in Hastings is great. It’s a beautiful big open space – good for running around. I love that they’ve managed to avoid all the usual, miserable retail opportunities and it makes you aware of the fantastic expanse of open sea.

Where or how do you find inspiration?
Walking in woods or listening to live music. We live near Epping Forest, so I can get out and hug a tree pretty regularly, and I try to see some live music at least every couple of weeks. It’s one of the luxuries of living in London. Last week we were lucky enough to catch Deerhoof, which was truly inspirational.

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Who are your design heroes?
This week it's artist Franz West and architect Kazumasa Yamashita. I'm also inspired by musicians Jonathan Richman and Richard Dawson.

Where’s on your travel wish list?
Anywhere with a big forest. There's a plan to take my kids over to Scandinavia pretty soon. I think we’ll find some big forests there.

ABOVE: The iconic 'Face House' in Kyoto by Japanese architect Kazumasa Yamashita

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram. I’m more keen on pictures than words. 
richardwoodsstudio.com

The Folkestone Triennial is on now until 5 November 2017. The new 'Wrongwoods' collection is available to order from selected stores. Visit establishedandsons.com for local stockists

Pictures: Peer Lindgreen, Thierry Bal

ERWAN BOUROULLEC Bouroullec Brothers

French design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec – aka the Bouroullec brothers – is best known for pared-down, cutting-edge furniture for brands including Artek, HAY, Iittala and Vitra. Their new I-shaped 'Serif' television for Samsung was a showstopper at this year’s London Design Festival and we predict this life-enhancing piece of tech is set to rock our world, recreating TVs as stylish furniture. Here, Erwan shares his ideas and interests.

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Tell us about your new 'Serif TV'. What inspired the design?
The motive was to make an object that sits properly in the world we live in today. We wanted to move away from a flat black screen, while designing something in which the case was as important as the screen inside. Unlike most TVs where the frame is meant to disappear, the serif-shaped surround frames the screen like a picture.

What are your favourite features?
The struggle was to make sure that the TV was good-looking from any angle and can be moved around like any other piece of furniture in the home. The television features a fabric panel on the back to hide all the ports and wires, so it can be moved away from the wall. 

ABOVE: Erwan Bouroullec (left) with brother Ronan
BELOW: The duo's first foray into electronics has resulted in the 'Serif TV', the world's first typographic television; Looks like puss knows a good thing when she sees it...

Sum up your style in three words.
Accessible, poetic, elegant. There is a rational approach to the way that Ronan and I work, so I would say our style is more connected with method. The shape follows from the way in which the product is built. 

What’s influencing your work right now?
More and more, we are striving for a radical approach, reworking things that affect everyday life. The 'Serif' is a good example of this. It is something that people are surprised by and want to discuss, yet they like it and want it too. 

ABOVE: Sketches, fabric samples and maquettes for the 'Serif TV'; A spot of serenity amid the organised chaos of the Bouroullecs' studio

Describe your workspace.
Incredibly messy, which even to me is surprising. I imagined that as I got older I would become more organised but, in fact, I quite like the studio to keep a degree of unprofessionalism. It keeps us off a predetermined track and preserves our creativity. 

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Who are your design heroes?
I don’t have a passionate view on design heroes as such. Of course, in the Fifties, the Americans were fundamental and also the Nordic countries with Jacobsen, Aalto and Wegner. On the dark side, a little later, the Italians were like what Punk was to the music scene. Mario Bellini was a really important figure but most recently I really respect Jasper Morrison (right). His designs from the Eighties have shaped what is happening in design right now. 

Where do you find inspiration?
In making things. I spend most of my time in the studio working on a project. 

Are you always thinking about design?
Always, except when I read each night to reset my mind for a while. I have a couple of science fiction books on the go, Code Source by William Gibson and Grande Jonction by Maurice G. Dantec.

Your biggest must-have in a home is…
A kitchen. It is the most social place of the home. For me, cooking is a time when you connect with the elements – fire, water, flesh, earth and scent. It has the same kind of energy as sculpting, where things are happening and you can’t think twice. 

ABOVE FROM LEFT: The 'Palissade' range of outdoor furniture for Danish brand HAY was a big hit at Maison & Objet in September; The 'Kaari' wall shelf from the Bouroullecs' first collection for Artek, which launched at the Stockholm Furniture Fair in February

Is there anything you wish you had designed? 
Since we designed the TV, I feel our design philosophy is suited to a more technical subject. I would be very happy to design a car. 

If you weren't a designer, what might you have been?
When I was a student I used to look after young kids at summer camp. We were always doing stuff like building kites. It was really amazing.

What’s your social media of choice? 
I don’t post anything myself but I like to go on Instagram, as does Ronan. People often upload shots of our products and it is always pleasing to see their comments on how they are enjoying them at home. If the cat loves it, then so do we.
bouroullec.com  samsung.com

'Serif TV x Samsung' is available in 24", 32" and 40" sizes from 2 November 2015.