Last week we caught up with Tom Raffield at London Craft Week.
The event provided an opportunity for us to catch up with one of the UK’s most interesting designers, Tom Raffield. Tom is known for crafting the most exquisite furniture and lighting from steam-bent timber. He has a hands-on technique for making and a conversation with him revealed some interesting insights. This is what we learned:
Most of the products that Tom’s firm makes are not designed in CAD or even as a result of sketches. His ideas are made manifest in the form of physical models in the workshop. He has an idea and literally goes next door to the workshop and makes it.
He was told at school that you have to be in London to work in design. Tom disagreed and established his thriving company in Cornwall.
Tom emphasises the value of apprentices and engagement with the local community. “People come out of design school and they want to make stuff; real things with their own hands. At Tom Raffield we work with young people to help them develop as designers and makers and as they develop so does our company”.
Tom proved people wrong who said that you can’t make things in the UK any more and turn a profit. “Not everyone wants stuff from China and there are plenty of people who value things that are hand-made by real people”. As an affirmation of this, Tom Raffield’s products are much sought after and even supplied via John Lewis.
For London Craft Week Tom was invited to light up Orange Square in Belgravia. His timber decorative lighting fixtures adorned the trees and when the sun set the square looked very charming indeed.
Photo credits Belinda Crawley.