We are very excited to be starting a BRAND new series on the blog today: Monday Makers. Every week we will feature a maker whose work we admire and ask them to shed a little light on their process, their products and what drives them.
Starting us on the series is the fantastic Frances Bradley, who we met at Clerkenwell Design Week this year…
Hi Frances – please tell us a little bit about yourself…
I’m based in a small village just outside Northampton and have been making various things since 2011, though have only been designing as Frances Bradley for 2 years.
Initially, I started out working on a landfill site (I have an Environmental Degree) and started upcycling and making items out of some reclaimed wood as I hate unnecessary waste. It expanded from tables out of the cable reels from the nearby M1 widening to using more natural looking boards and now I design new objects rather than refurbish old ones.
I’ve carried the ideas of minimal waste and sustainable sourcing forward as an ethos for my designs and now spend a lot of time sourcing unusual natural live edge boards taken from local trees as a by-product of Northamptonshire’s tree surgeons, I like that each piece also comes with a story. I then start with the wood in front of me and design outwards from there to form material led design.
My curve bench is a good example of this; a single board of wood went into the workshop before the design was finalised on site. It was cut, mitred and the ends curved so the whole board looks bent with nearly zero wasteage (only a few shavings!).
What do you make?
Furiture and homewares using natural wood and a blend of traditional woodworking and contemporary materials.
What is your favourite piece/thing you create, and why?
Our resin tables; it’s taken two years, starting with infilling natural holes in boards and a few failures along the way to get to the final river design. Using modern materials in a contemporary piece initially looks a long way from sustainable design but actually it arose out of a desire to reduce waste.
The live edges of a board are usually cut off as they’re non uniform and hard to use, but it’s wasteful. So these edges are placed together and the gap filled with resin to create a solid useable table top. They’re also made from boards from a local sawmill, a two man band who buy local trees which have been cut down where the tree would otherwise be chipped and saw and dry them for useable timber-it’s a really quirky cottage industry and as a result, the individual tree that a table has come from can be pinpointed.
What inspires you?
I’m a very visual person so I use both Pinterest , Instagram as mood boards for items and designers who inspire me. Sometimes though, it can simply be an interesting material such as Jesmonite (a chameleonic Gypsum based material usually used as a stone replacement) which I’m currently experimenting with to a find a new way of using the material in furniture.
What is your favourite place?
I was initially going to pick Cyprus where I spent my childhood, but actually where I live now just south of Northamptonshire though considered boring and non-descript by a lot of people is actually a really interesting place. It doesn’t have impressive mountains or beaches, but there are a quite a lot of lovely little known spots really close by; an ancient bluebell wood, beautiful reservoir and a few lesser known country houses, some ruins to explore and a lot of pretty rolling countryside.
It’s also well connected and quite easy to get to most places from here (e.g. London is only 50 mins) but there are also a lot of small businesses in the area so it’s possible to find someone to make nearly anything within a small radius.
Ok – you are the ruler of the world for the day. What one law do you bring in?
Madatory reduction/reuse of plastics worldwide which requires developed countries to support developing countries and lead the way with new technologies.
What is your studio motto?
Material led design
Where can we see you next?
London Design Fair –at Tent London in September.
Thank you Frances – check out the studio website and Not on the High Street to see more and keep you eyes peeled for the next instalment in our new Monday Makers series. Next Monday. Of course.
(images courtesy of Frances Bradley)