Republic interviews Ted Jefferis

Built on a desire to display the natural beauty of wood, Ted Jefferis' furniture imparts organic, artisanal beauty.

Ted's family history is ingrained with design and woodwork heritage. The son of a classic boat builder, Ted took up studying at Oxford Brookes University, where he began to explore the concept of furniture as a scaled down form of architecture. His collection continues the appreciation of the fundamental relationship between furniture and the surrounding interior.

Furniture designer maker Ted Jefferis is fastidious in his selection of wood, and using sustainably grown British wood is a simple yet elegant solution to locking away carbon for generations to come. It is Ted's fond hope that, through his work. He will emphasise and encourage sustainability, permanency and narrative, creating a counterbalance to the throwaway culture of modern society.

We reached out to Ted who shared a thing or two about his creative process and professed his love for British Hardwoods.

I genuinely think British Hardwoods are some of the most beautiful in the world.

BoltUp side tables, TedWood

Republic (Re): Can you start by telling us a little bit about your background and talk us through your creative process?

Ted Jefferis (TJ): I grew up surrounded by woodlands and my dad was a carpenter. This has undoubtedly affected my love for timber as a natural material. I often design things at the workbench, through prototyping. This doesn't mean I don’t use pencil and paper or CAD, but I just like to see things take shape in physical materials.

tiptoe table designed by Ted Jefferis
TipToe table, TedWood

Re: You only use sustainable British hardwoods – clearly, sustainability is at the crux of your work. What else are you interested in or inspired by and how is it feeding into your designs?

TJ: Sustainability is key, however, I genuinely think British Hardwoods are some of the most beautiful in the world, so it makes a lot of sense to use them. I'm also interested in CNC manufacture, I think that as a craftsman I need to embrace this technology in order to enrich my process. It also enables my relatively small workshop to produce a higher volume of furniture.

Tipetoe table in the making in TedWood workshops
BoltUp stool in the making, TedWood

Re: Timber is increasingly becoming a viable alternative to traditional steel and concrete construction. I imagine this must be as exciting for you as it is for us. How do you think can furniture be used to promote sustainability on a smaller scale?

TJ: In the construction industry, cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a driving force behind the resurgence in timber as a load bearing material. CLT is the same technology that we use in the legs of our TipToe collection. People often mistake the legs for metal: it just shows how strong wood can be.

Story coffee cafe in Clapham
TipToe collection quietly sitting in Story Coffee café, Clapham. TedWood 

Re: Your furniture is so versatile it would fit in almost any interior but is there a sector you feel particularly drawn to? Or a sector you would like to explore further?

TJ: The collection from TedWood was defiantly intended for residential homes. However, over the past three and a half years, I have changed my attitude to this. We have fitted out an entire coffee shop with our furniture (Story Coffee - Clapham) and have just finished our first office interior. I like the scale of projects like this, somehow the furniture makes more sense when it is multiplied across a whole interior.

hangup lamp made from leather
HangUp lamp close up, TedWood

Re: We know your mother does the leather work. Did you create the leather lighting collection together? Will you tell us a little more about your collaboration and how it began?

TJ: Mum is an excellent leatherworker, and can hand stitch with incredible accuracy. She makes our ToolBags, BoatBuckets and some leatherwork for bespoke projects. The lights are made in my workshop and are defiantly inspired by Mum’s work but are made in a way that avoids this time-consuming hand stitching process. Because I am trained as a carpenter, working with leather is very satisfying, for me there are no rules with leather (because I am not traditionally trained) so I am free to just mess around!

Tiptoe desk by Ted Jefferis
TipToe desk, BoltUp side table and HangUp lamp, TedWood

Re: What are you working on right now and what are your plans for 2017?

TJ: We are just finishing a very interesting interiors project for a private client that includes a staircase, a lot of furniture and even some door handles! I am also working on a new furniture collection that we will be launching at Design Junction during the London Design Festival. This is alongside a new leather lighting collection, so just a couple of things going on!

Ted Jefferis in his workshop
Ted & Humphrey. Credit: creative CoOp

Artists like Ted Jefferis are the reason why we love collaborating with makers and artisans. If you would like Ted's exquisite furniture to feature in your next Republic project, get in touch - we'll be glad to meet over coffee.

In the meantime, take a peek into his workshop in Sussex by following his instagram page. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter

Opening photo: TedWood Workshop, Ted Jefferis 

Republic interviews furniture designer-maker Gareth Neal

Some artisans value traditional craftsmanship, others praise digital manufacturing. Where Gareth Neal stands out is in his subtle manipulation of both at once. 

Hands-on furniture designer-maker Gareth Neal distinguishes himself by his blend of traditional tools with the latest computer controlled routers. This, combined with a fascination of historical techniques and aesthetics, roots Neal's design within a specific context with rich narratives and contextual reference points. 

We spoke to Gareth who talked about the limits of technology and traditional craftsmanship when used separately, and shared his love for collaborative design, among other things.

Portrait of Gareth Neal, photography: Petr Krejci
Republic (Re): Can you start by telling us a little bit about your background?

Gareth Neal (GN): I graduated with a BA in Furniture Design & Craftsmanship from High Wycombe in 1996 and established my design practice in east London where I’ve been based since 2002.

I’m constantly trying to reinvent myself.

Re: And what inspired you to go into furniture design? Is there anything in particular that affected your love of design?

GN: My dad was an archaeologist, so as a child I was always surrounded by historical objects. I became obsessed with scouring car boot sales for interesting objects... I still do it now. I had an inspiring teacher at college, who took me to see a furniture-making course at a university... and the rest is history!

Gareth Neal, photography: Alun Callender

Re: Your work is a subtle amalgamation of traditional fabrication techniques and digital manufacturing. When did you first start thinking about using digital mediums? What prompted the initial experimenting phase?

GN: The limits of technology and traditional craftsmanship have been a constant theme over the years in my design process. In 2006, when I first started getting better at drawing on computers, the two processes started to merge. The initial experiments I created were born from the limitations of certain craft techniques but also the need to elevate and advance craft to a contemporary setting.

Willow - wicker chair 

Re: The furniture you design and make is indisputably easy on the eyes but, and I’m sure you’ll agree, there is more to furniture than beauty. How do you combine aesthetics with function?

GN: I don’t always believe that is true, nor do I believe it’s necessary for all objects to be both aesthetically pleasing and utilitarian. It’s more about the placement of these objects in your life.

George chest of drawers, photography: Petr Krejci

Re: And what do you mean by "placement" exactly? Sometimes, can the purpose of an object be to make a statement, rather than be functional? 

GN: I think that the range of choice we have today when it comes to selecting objects to incorporate into our home is vast. As consumers, the choice is on our side and we can choose objects to surround us in our home for various reasons. They can be elegant and simple in design, beautiful objects really, but they don't necessarily need to be functional.

Modern Makers

Re: You have been exhibited worldwide, from London, through Milan, to New York… But you’re also a commission-based practice. Does your creative process differ when you are working on a bespoke piece? How big an impact do you think bespoke pieces like your reception desk for John Jones can have on a company’s image? 

GN: Commissions and bespoke work are completely different experiences, but are equally rewarding as design challenges. Bespoke creations can be very independent, ego-driven productions, while commissions involve the needs of a client. I think both offer interesting opportunities.

In a way, the Zaha Hadid Wish List as a collaborative project was an example of a successful undertaking. Having a specific brief and creating a tailored product to satisfy the brief can foster rich creative opportunities. Constraints can be enriching, creating ingenious ideas and other methods to think about something.

Jack, photography: Petr Krejci

Re: You recently talked about commissions and collaborative design at the London Craft week 2017. Can you share your favourite thing about commission work with us? 

GN: Working with other people is something I really enjoy and it opens up new directions in my design process. Working together and sharing ideas, knowledge and skills, truly yields interesting outputs.

Black Vesel, photoghraphy: Petr Krejci

Re: What are your impressions from the London Craft Week this year?

GN: London Craft Week brings together some of this city's most talented designers and makers, and with each passing year, it only seems to get better! What was really wonderful to see during my talk at the Carpenters Hall was the diversity of the people who were present. That to me is really inspirational.

Constraints can be enriching, creating ingenious ideas and other methods to think about something.

Re: Some of your pieces are limited edition, some are even one of a kind. Do you sometimes find yourself wanting to make more or are you constantly trying to reinvent yourself through your work? 

GN: To be honest, I feel like I’m constantly trying to reinvent myself, which is perhaps not necessary after practising design for the last 20 years. I enjoy the whole breadth of the design and craft world.

Gareth Neal, photography: Charlotte Schreiber

Re: If we were to walk in your Bethnal Green workshop today, what would we find in the making?

GN: I am constantly in the process of making plans – planning and scheduling projects, drawing plans for prototypes, plans for lunch. Jokes aside, I’m currently working on very exciting new designs that will be shown at Sarah Myerscough Gallery during Art Basel/Design Miami in June as well as sending a new body of work to Todd Merrill’s gallery in New York City.

 Jack cabinet and Gareth Neal, photography: Petr Krejci

Artists like Gareth Neal are the reason why we love collaborating with makers and artisans. If you would like Gareth's work to feature in your next Republic project, get in touch - we'll be glad to meet over coffee.

In the meantime, you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter

Seven ways to add colour to your office

Is your office lacking energy? Colour is an excellent way to liven up the workplace and infuse personality into your office environment. 

Skype offices, Stockholm. By PS Arkitektur

Did you know there is such a thing as a fear of colour? It is called chromophobia and it can lead to panic attacks and different levels of anxiety. For the majority of us, however, who love colours, it is now widely known that it has a positive influence on your wellbeing at the office. But where should you use it and how can you maximize the desired effect of your greens and blues?

Painting the walls of your office a certain shade of 'productive' is only one of many other ways to add colour to your workplace. You can also choose to liven up your office with bright, colourful furniture or frame your conference room in tinted glass; flooring and ceiling are not immune to colour either.

Before you take your pick, be sure to define your goals. Do you want to highlight all semi-private meeting rooms in your open-plan office? Are you trying to define or sectionalise areas of your office? Do you think your breakout space or reception area don't stand out enough?

Whatever your goal, colour can probably help you achieve it. Here are seven ideas to add colour to your office.

1. Colourful furniture

ECOM Recruitment, Marylebone, London. By Action Workspace

Choosing colourful furniture is one of the best ways to add a splash of colour to your office without having to revamp the entire floor. Bright furniture in an otherwise neutral office can help liven up your workspace but also define and separate certain areas by using a different colour scheme.

Above, the architects have opted for vibrant furniture in the waiting area to help separate it from the open place office.

2. Vibrant floor treatment

Insurance company Medibank's office building, Melbourne Australia. By Hassel

 Chromatic floor treatment is another effective tool when looking to define certain spaces with colour. This will allow you to set clearer, albeit conceptual boundaries, without putting up partitions.

Hassel's refreshing use of colour above appears to highlight corridors and circulation areas, while the various shades add a sense of playfulness to the office.

From tinted concrete, through border stripes on wood floors, to a patterned carpet, flooring can easily be made the centrepiece of your office. If you want to keep it simple yet personalised, why not have a custom logo made or inlaid into your floor?

3. Distinctive lighting

PR agency in Dubai, by Stella + the Stars. Photography: Elizabeth Argyll

Colourful lighting can transform a dull office into a quirky one, and it is an easy upgrade too. The clusters of lamps dotted around the office above can add some warmth and character to the interior, and when it comes to office lighting, you're spoilt for choice.

Use pendants over your reception desk or hang them above the conference table. And don't forget sconces to line those long, dark corridors.

 4. Statement staircase

Vinge Law Firm, by Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB. Photographer: Åke E:son Lindman

Nothing impresses more than a grand, curved staircase that winds up to the second floor of your office. Add colour to that, and you are bound to make a statement.

Notice how colour was used inside Swedish law firm Vinge, pictured above. Both the staircase and a small waiting area have been set apart through the use of colour – simple, elegant and above all, effective.

5. Bold artwork

Duchy of Lancaster, corporate art collection. Credit: Workplace Art

Paintings, sculptures, any form of artwork is bound to liven up your office by adding a dash of colour. Not sure where to start? Art in the workplace offers a lot of opportunities – Deutsche Bank's corporate art collection is bound to inspire.

6. Reviving plants

Large living wall inside Yoga clothing retailer Lululemon Athletica's office atrium in Vancouver, British Columbia. By Gustavson Wylie Architects

Green walls in the workplace are becoming increasingly popular – they make for a healthier environment, they can improve the acoustics in your room; they are a great way to add a punch of colour too.

Green walls in the workplace are becoming increasingly popular – they make for a healthier environment, they can improve the acoustics in your room; they are a great way to add a punch of colour too.

7. Creative murals

Facebook London's office in Regent's Place, Geo Law  

 Youth-oriented companies may consider street art murals to infuse some personality and energy into their workplace. Office murals make for great feature walls – hire an illustrator or graffiti artist and enjoy the benefits of a custom-made mural that can speak to the innovative, cutting-edge side of your business.