working with manufacturers

Partnership and Collaboration

Jonathan Rose Design works with successful and aspiring people in the creative world. This is partnership and collaboration. Not just a service. 

These people are graphic designers, small workshops with specialist skills, larger production workshops, photographers and places using digital manufacturing tools all based in the UK and committed to excellence. 

This is partnership in its most elemental form. You have something I need, I have something you need. Lets work out how we can both benefit from it. I can share your story with my world; you can share my story with your world. Treat me with respect, I’ll treat you with respect, because, well, I respect you. We are all better off.

Things grow, they bare fruit and then multiply. Not always quickly but it works. This is how partnerships is for me.

The next few blogs share some of these stories. Here is my first.

Tom S Ironside Furniture Group. 
Based on the Feugh at Finzean, in the heart of rural Aberdeenshire, Tom has been running his workshop for over 30 years. He provides specialist hand skills in a workshop large enough to do a 3.5 meter dining table, with a team of five makers and restorers. He teaches, restores antiques, makes any kind of furniture and has the quiet confidence of someone who has learnt the lessons of life. He won’t be taken for a ride but is willing to test his skills when asked to try something new.

His team are all local, served their time with Tom and he trusts them to do an excellent job. He said to me early on, and I quote, “it takes a long time to develop a reputation, but it takes a very short time to lose it”. Once it is lost, it doesn’t always come back. Think of Austrian wine and anti-freeze – that was over 30 years ago and only now is that product coming back on the shelves.

A dining table was the first piece he made for Jonathan Rose Design, from locally sourced timber  provided by the owner of that timber. Tom was challenged to join boards with a curved butt joint because a straight joint would have been too wasteful of timber.

Here are some pictures of work Tom and his team have done for Jonathan Rose Design, with comments about what was unusual.

triangular nesting tables

ski coffee table

Fractal nesting tables.
The challenge here for maker Claudia Paterson was to get the legs true to the top using a mitre joint plus a 1mm taper either side of the legs.

Other challenges Claudia did not share!

Ski coffee table.
Simple it may look but joining the top boards needed carefully turned and placed pins. Not easy to find the reference points so everything lined up

dining table oak
From the Woods dining table
Lots of curves fitted with patience and skill by Gavin Paterson

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The Attentive Collection

Attentive is a collection of furniture designed for an active lifestyle.

We have busy periods of our life; always daily, mostly weekly and often for a whole month. We sometimes wonder why the chairs we sit on seem to envelop and stop us from just getting on with it.

The Attentive chair is good for times like this. While you are focused on the job, it supports you, keeps your core working while you’re not even thinking about it. Lean backwards and the back touches you just where you want it. Feels good to stretch yourself. In a consultant’s clinic, around a working table, in a hotel lobby. Places where you don’t want the chair to swallow you up and where everyone needs to concentrate.

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The Attentive range allows this to happen and is also slender and discrete in a public place. It has something of the mid 20th century feel about it but definitely belongs to the 21st century lifestyle.

This collection came from the entrepreneurial spirit of an engineer who accepted the challenge of making a chair. The project started as an exploration of what could be done with laminates, without losing that solid wood feel. Out of the experimentation came a chair with a convex seat, a convex back and a unique method of upholstery capture. Key to the economics of the collection was CNC machining which could cut complex curves and curved recesses easily and quickly.

The connection between designer and manufacturer is always critical. In this case the manufacturer was prepared to work with the designer to improve the chair both on the cost side and for the skills of his team. He has an operation which prioritises the contribution of each team member and fosters an open relationship throughout the company. Here the designer was able to meet the director and makers and talk through ways in which the manufacturing processes could be improved.

Here is an example of how a UK based operation provides a successful outcome. A clear understanding of the design and its context by everyone involved, enabled the final product to be greater than the sum of its parts.

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It is now a collection with tables and stools to partner the chair. The tables provide that same function, uncluttered with stretcher rails and bulky drawers and with space for putting a laptop or tablet out of sight. The standing table enhances that dynamic interaction but without the need for a chair.

Manufactured in Britain from European ash. The chairs are made in a small factory in Coventry and the tables by a small family firm in Suffolk. All committed to the value of UK made products.

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