Make Party | 2015

Every year in the deepest depths of the Kent countryside designers, creatives and like-minded individuals receive a coveted ticket to the "Make Party". 
After making it through the Tarmac nightmare of the Operation stack...we made it to the oasis of creativity and green.
Organised by Seb Cox and his brother, year on year is becoming larger and a highlight to the summer calendar.
 

By day everyone gathers to get creative in the woods with activities like:
• T-shirt screen printing
• Whittle a spatula with Barn the spoon
• Carving your own silver ring with The workbench (my favourite) 

• Dine beneath the trees with Olivia Bennet; so you could some your own food!
• Or find a space for wood whittling or swoon carving

 Workbench in the woods with Kirstie MacLaren and Katie Woodward; some serious concentration faces

Workbench in the woods with Kirstie MacLaren and Katie Woodward; some serious concentration faces

 The starting point....and Prosecco to get the creative juices flowing. 

The starting point....and Prosecco to get the creative juices flowing. 

 Nearly there....

Nearly there....

 Ta da! Check out my  instagram  for the final silver ring posted to me: so cuffed when it arrived! 

Ta da! Check out my instagram for the final silver ring posted to me: so cuffed when it arrived! 

 Spatula action.

Spatula action.

And by night the fun doesn't stop; with BBQing, and frequenting Liam Trenor Mojo bar.

Then boogying the night away under canvas (a 1954 army tent that has seen better days) begins! With a skilled set of DJ's that keep you on the dance floor until the early hours. 

Then refuge into our tents to sleep the remaining hours away.

In the morning its all hands on deck for the clean up; fuelled by Seb, Brogan & team amazing and much needed bacon sandwiches and Tea! 
Then like woodland imps we all disappear until next year!

 Bacon sandwich and tea production line...curing all beer endured headaches!

Bacon sandwich and tea production line...curing all beer endured headaches!

 All hands on deck.

All hands on deck.

 Goodbye until another year!

Goodbye until another year!

Into the woods - Coppicing

On a bright but chilly Friday morning a group of welly clad Londoners consisting of UK journalists, bloggers and the Heal's furniture team gathered outside Heals HQ. Ready for a woodland adventure into the Kent Countryside. Kirsty Whyte_Blog_Coppicing_Seb Cox_Heals (2)

Reminiscent of a school trip we piled onboard a minibus; excited with the prospect of clean air and green fields. We were blessed with one of the first dry days of the year; the sun even poked out behind some clouds.

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The purpose of our little excision was to join Designer Seb Cox and representatives of Grown in Britain, to learn more about our neglected British woodlands and how they can be sustainably managed to save our native woodland animals alongside harvesting a useful and exportable commodity.

We learnt that Ash is the new oak in furniture production and ranges like the new Cranborne collection, manufactured by UK company Benchmark are just the beginning.

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One of Sebs beautifully crafted Suent Chairs were in pride of place near the hearth, this chair uses the same techniques as the Heal's Oak and Hazel Collection. 

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But we were just in the woods to learn there theories behind the husbandry of Woodland management we we're there to graft too. Part of Sebs long term commitment to this cause is buying and managing his own area of woodland by the ancient process of Coppicing. - which is cutting back the old growth to allow space for new straight rods to grow back. Clearing light to the woodland floor for the flowers as well as producing beautify straight pieces of timber that can be used from fences to furniture.

Wrapped up in multiple layers and fuelled on a big bowl of porridge we then we're put to task (after a short safety introduction about our tools for the day; a Bill Hook and Bow Saw).

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The blue sky and warming rays were very welcome.

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Smoke from our mountainous bonfire, created from the unusable treetops.

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Huge tree scared by lightening.

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Plenty of coat hooks for hanging those unwanted layers.

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After several hours chopping away and using muscles I forgot I had, we stopped for a well deserved lunch break. Lovingly prepared by Sebs Nanna (and amazing cook) soup, homemade Scotch eggs and sausage rolls. Suitably full and spoilt we cracked on with the last felled tree of the day.

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Curious of some other tools of the trade Seb had brought along we then had a spoon making demonstration; it looks much easier than it is in practice!

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Sitting back to admire our achievement for the day by the crackling bonfire; over a cool bottle of beer and celebrating we still all had 10 digits!

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Above; the fruits of our labour ready to be turned into furniture.

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The cleared area of woodland, after our team effort.

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As the sun began to disappear over the horizon we headed back to the minibus; a little more exhausted and muddier that us city dwellers are used to.

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Rather like toddlers after a busy day we then promptly fell asleep on the way home!

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A fantastic and educational day, big thankyou to everyone who made it possible.

For More information about Coppicing watch the video of Seb Cox below:

Sebastian Cox Furniture | Video

Studio Visit - Ali Miller

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Being stuck behind a computer screen is all very well but when ever I get the chance to escape to the real world, I jump at it (all be it with smartphone in hand). As well as working on in-house designs at Made.com I also get the opportunity to work with talented external designers, which is a great way to keep your ideas fresh.

Visiting a designer’s studio or house is always an amazing insight into their way of working. I’m currently developing a range with the Lovely Ali Miller.

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Ali has quite a magpie approach to her work, gleaning and reappropriating images and patterns from a bygone age. With a hands on approach she initially hand cuts all the images and then digitally reworks the composition; using nostalgic references but then creating a modern look with the unusual juxtaposition and editing of the cut-outs.

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Her studio space is also her home and her work is dotted about each room; her work is about her life and also part of it on a day to day basis.

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You don’t usually get tea and biscuits served like this! Unless you’re Sherlock Homes!

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Keep an eye out for her first collection due for release Xmas 2013 at Made.com.

Studio Visit – Dare Studio

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Escaping the great British ‘Spring’ wasn’t going to be an option this Easter weekend, so escaping London would have to do.With a trade of accommodation in turn for some help with child entertaining; we made our way to an equally chilly Brighton to spend some 2Ps and visit Dare Studio.

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 19.43.31 Dare Studio, is a British Furniture and Lighting Design Brand, who I first met back in 2009 through Hidden Art, they are growing from strength to strength and have recently opened a new showroom at Bush Mews, in Brighton. I recommend a visit, but for those that are not Brighton way here are a few photos.

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Swatches; my favourite (such a furniture geek).

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I’m a big fan of the Bronte Chair.

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I love the copper and Marble displayed together.

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Wrapped up warm on the Hardy Wingback chair.

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The Spline chair which has been awarded the Design Guild Mark.

Studio Visit - Steuart Padwick

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I'm frequently abroad with work visiting suppliers and factories and every once and a while I get to venture a little closer to home.

Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with Steuart Padwick in his creative environment - much better for discussing projects that in a sterile meeting room.

Steuart has an established career within furniture design and in 2009 launched his own design studio; as well as selling directly to customer’s he also designs for retailers, one of which is MADE.

Over in Berkshire is Steuarts home/studio/workshop, an amazing mix of home improvement projects, prototypes, scale furniture maquettes and a full size silverback gorilla model (unexpected).

Among the creative chaos are design nuggets; some of which are projects I'm working on with him for MADE including a new upholstery range ... watch this space.

I was left pining for a creative space of my own once more; a luxury my compact London flat can't accommodate. 

Life drawing sketches.

Horse Shoe Chair and scale model.

The Walk Desk which started of the Stroller range.

I want some stairs like this!

It looks retro but this is an 'Amp Lamp' connected to an Ipod.

Steuart contemplating a workshop tidy up! 

On the way back we popped in to the beautifully located Benchmark showroom and workshops (now 35,000 square feet) which area converted farm near the village of Kintbury in West Berkshire. Some highlights in the showroom were Mrs B Dining table by Russell Pinch, CH33 Designed by Hans Wegner and the exquisitely made scale models.

No photos of the busy workshops but it was great to see the highly skilled craftsmen diligently working on varied projects from catalogue products to huge bespoke hotel reception desks. No photos as I'm a 'competitor', but would prefer to be seen as an aspiring designer; with an aim to be one of the first Female designer for the brand, alongside Kay + Stemmer and Tomoko Azumi!

 

This is the very cool order book; which has every product ever sold by Benchmark and who the designer was; brilliant forward thinking and a 'who's-who' of its design legacy.