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A combination of flair and function
Makers’ Eye is an online gallery showcasing designs from 50 of the UK’s best designer makers.
It collates the work of leading names so that, instead of trawling the internet for hours, those looking for handmade furniture can find them all on one site.
The site features established makers such as John Makepeace and Fred Baier, alongside up-and-coming designers. It aims to make handmade furniture and contemporary design accessible to all.
In this week’s Celebrating Sussex, we look at a few of the talented names from our county.
* See www.makerseye.co.uk for more information Haywards Heath Alun Heslop specialises in sculptural seating, with a particular focus on anthropomorphic forms.
After gaining an honours degree in fine art at the University of Brighton, he went on to take a diploma in spatial design and travelled around Switzerland working as a craftsman and artist.
On returning to Sussex, he began creating a range of simple seats and site-specific installations from his Chaircreative workshop.
The most famous of these is the Sleeping Dragon which won a Wood Award in 2008.
Many of Heslop’s designs are named after the creatures they represent, and his love of nature, wood and the environment can be seen in every piece. Alun has created pieces for both private and public sector clients and his pieces have appeared in London’s V & A Museum and the Saatchi Gallery.
Wales & Wales – Lewes This husband and wife duo makes beguiling pieces in wood from their workshop in Muddles Green, Chiddingly.
Since launching in 1980 they have gained a reputation for timeless, intelligent design and have been commissioned to work on projects for clients that include architects, manufacturers and retailers.
Their work is characterised by a robust, simple elegance rooted in a pragmatic understanding of materials and processes. They are best known for a signature style known as the “Stripe Series”, comprising pieces made with various shades and types of wood.
Their radical work is displayed in the V & A and Fitzwilliam Museums.
Edward Johnson – Portslade From the beautiful “birds-in-flight” design of his nesting tables “Ed, Edd & Eddy” to “Volumptuous”, a tactile, dimpled oak sideboard, Edward Johnson specialises in work “you want to touch and stroke, as well as gaze upon”.
Client Paul Boateng, the Rt Hon The Lord Boateng of Akyem and Wembley, describes Johnson as one of “a new generation of young British designers who are demonstrating what a fertile ground Britain continues to be for innovation and excellence in design”.
His Portslade workshop, EJ Bespoke Furniture, specialises in designing and making luxury bespoke furniture and art, from amazing jewellery boxes to dining tables and interior room schemes.
Marc Fish – Newhaven Fish attempts to blur the boundaries between furniture, art, design and sculpture with his contemporary cabinets.
Employing a mix of traditional skills and modern design, his work has achieved international acclaim. Last year he was awarded The Claxton Stevens Award, the highest accolade given by the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, while L’Orchidee, completed in 2010, was awarded both a Guild Mark and the Claxton Stevens Award.
His work is highly collectable due to the limited nature of the signature series – only one design is produced each year from the Robinson House Studio in Newhaven.
Brendan Devitt-Spooner – Angmering Outside Wood Designs Studios in Angmering is a large area devoted to timber.
Trees sawn into planks air-dry here before being put in a kiln to fully dry. Using time-honoured crafts, Brendan Devitt-Spooner will then turn them into solid wood furniture that he hopes will give owners a lifetime of pleasure. “The range of work undertaken is varied as befits a bespoke maker,” he explains.
“Whether I’m designing a small coffee table or large room scheme, the same attention to detail is executed on all commissions.”
One of the services he offers is that of turning a client’s tree into a piece of furniture.
Devitt-Spooner has the facilities for collecting the butt, and with the use of a local sawmill, converting it into planks. At present, he is drying oak, ash, yew, walnut, beech, cherry, sweet chestnut and laburnum.
He has been designing furniture for more than ten years and was recently awarded membership to the Society of Designer Craftsmen.