Social Togetherness: Alex Mowat in Conversation

May 16, 2020 · 0 Comments

Today we’re talking to architect Alex Mowat as part of our Social Togetherness series.

Where is home for you?

Camberwell, South London. A timber house that was built in 1970, the year I was born. I think of it as my “architectural twin”.

What are the highlights of your home working day?

Everyone in our architect’s practice joins a 9 am “sign-in” and 6 pm “sign-out” video call every day. We swop experiences about eggs, baby blankets, Eccles cakes and good songs. These small things and the routine are keeping us going.

What creative pursuits are you doing now that you ordinarily wouldn’t manage if the world were at its normal place?

Whist trying to keep a regular routine, I have found the time to help the charity, Woodland Heritage. We are re-designing the sawmill at Whitney-on-wye in Herefordshire. We want to be able to increase our capacity for milling timber from Britain’s great estates for beams, boats, furniture and door handles. The mill will also extend its base for training, learning and sharing.

Are you learning a new skill?

The super-fast spread of the corona virus shows us how easy it is to spread animal and plant disease un-naturally across the world. Many people are rightly reconnecting with food and farming. For the furniture, design and construction industry it will mean a bigger focus on local materials.  With my morning coffee in a beautiful Standard Ware Mug by Leach Pottery I am reading my collection of old books on indigenous timber, learning each tree’s Latin name and their traditional uses and qualities. (Full Disclosure: not huge success on the Latin so far).

What positive change might come from Covid-19?

We might learn to value our parents and elders more in society. Their wisdom, stories and experience are the relay race baton they pass on. They tell us how to run the race when it gets hard. I am lucky to have generous and fun parents as well as many wise industry contacts and mentors in design, construction and forestry.

Interesting projects for later this year?

We are currently working on a social housing building and 12 individual homes for rent, both starting construction when the lockdown is eased. A new infill office building in the small lanes near Covent Garden, the “up-cycling” of an old institutional building in South London and a new way of using a collection of old barns in North London.

What would be your wish for a new piece of furniture or lighting?

Newness is not always something I strive for but my wish starts with:

Something grown locally, something made locally, something that will get better with age, something beautiful and strokable.

Something made by one of our great manufacturers like Ercol, Very Good and Proper, Benchmark, Gaze Burvill, Young and Norgate, Another Country or Sebastian Cox……….

Many thanks to Alex for taking the time to talk to us. Join us next week for the next instalment of Social Togetherness.

 

And the winners are…

May 15, 2020 · 0 Comments

Our eminent panel of judges have selected the five winners of the Draw A Classic Chair Competition, each to be awarded a £100 Gift Voucher. Many congratulations to:

Meg Fatharly, Oskar Lillo, Mark Whitfield, Audrey Rapier and Chris Soper.

Meg Fatharly – Kettle’s Yard

Oskar Lillo – Enzo Mari

Mark Whitfield – P5 Chair in 5 seconds

Chris Soper – Abandoned, kicked, broken, last resort. A chair for every occasion.

Each was selected for a different reason, from the energy it may have captured to the emotion it embodied, the care and skill taken in the execution setting the drawings apart. Our project also demonstrated the enduring qualities of classic designs and that design longevity is cherished.

We would like to thank everyone who entered and contributed to our Lockdown project. We were thoroughly impressed with the variety and calibre of illustrations that were submitted. We received over 200 entries which can be seen on our Instagram highlights.

Further thanks to the judges for their time and acumen.

 

 

Social Togetherness: Erica Toogood in Conversation

May 14, 2020 · 0 Comments

twentytwentyone are honoured to work with wonderfully creative designers, makers and manufacturers and today we are talking to Erica Toogood co-founder of the clothing label, TOOGOOD.

Where’s home for you?

Victoria Park, East London

What are the highlights of your home-working day?

Being around my family. My husband and I met at Toogood – our relationship was built on working together – so it’s incredibly natural to be around each other. Where some couples may feel suffocated, we feel the most creative when in each other’s presence. Also in order to look after our 2-year-old, we take the day in shifts – so hearing my son happily eating in the next room chatting away to his dad is probably the best feeling ever.

What creative pursuits are you doing now that you ordinarily wouldn’t manage if the world were at its normal pace?

I’m trying to read more, think more and generally be more focused. I’m also trying to see the days and weeks in a different light – timings/schedule/moments of creativity – as much as we need a routine to get through our work – this all-encasing environment where work, family, life is in one pot I think will produce some very different thinking on the other side of COVID-19.

Are you learning a new skill, craft or hobby?

Not a chance with a 2-year-old!  (although my den building skills have got to an advanced stage)

What positive change might come from Covid-19 for you, or your wider community, or the world at large?

Like most, I will certainly embrace this moment – it has forced us to have less, consider more calmness, a reduced approach and a more intimate one. Constraints often provide the most creative moments.

Any books, music or podcasts you would recommend? 

I’m currently reading J.B Blunk by Blunk Books / Mariah Nielson – a truly beautiful comprehensive publication dedicated to her father’s work (1962-2002) –  wood, stone, clay, painting, jewellery – Blunk embodied the true meaning of Gesamtkunstwerk.

Also waiting for my next edition of Cloakroom Magazine and Plant Magazine to come through the post… 

Many thanks to Erica for taking the time to talk to us. You can find Erica on Instagram as well as staying up-to-date with the House of Toogood.

 

Social Togetherness: Eleanor Pritchard in Conversation

May 9, 2020 · 0 Comments

Social Togetherness – twentytwentyone are honoured to work with a host of wonderfully creative designers, makers and manufacturers and today we are talking to contemporary textiles designer, Eleanor Pritchard.

Where’s home for you? 

Peter and I moved just a few months ago to a little bungalow on One Tree Hill in Honor Oak Park – South East London. It needs a lot of work but is full of quirky charm. I feel so grateful we are in such a quiet, leafy part of the city – the lockdown must be so much harder for people with no green space around them.

What are the highlights of your home-working day?

I have been really touched by the many kind and thoughtful personal messages I have had from clients all over the world in the last few weeks. It makes me realize what a strong network we have grown through our work over the years. 

The lockdown has brought a much slower pace of life for me. It shows up how frantic the schedule in the studio can be. Now even making a pot of coffee has become a ritual! 

What creative pursuits are you doing now that you ordinarily wouldn’t manage if the world were at its normal pace?

I feel very lucky that our new home has a garden. When we first looked at the estate agent’s details for our place I had visions of Tom and Barbara from ‘The Good Life’… and indeed last month we dug up part of the lawn for potatoes and broad beans. We have a tiny cold frame and all my seedlings are coming up now – it feels very grounding and rewarding to watch them grow. 

Are you learning a new skill, craft or hobby?

Initially, I imagined that this particular situation would offer all sorts of creative opportunities – I kept reading articles about how this is a chance to write that unwritten novel or paint that masterpiece!! … but in reality, I find myself much too distracted for any really creative design work. What I have found though is real pleasure in using my hands to make something. I am working very slowly on a piece of drawn-thread work which will – one day – work as a curtain for our bedroom window. In many ways, the process of drawn-thread is the opposite of weaving (…perhaps a metaphor for me in these strange times! …). You start with a woven fabric and then remove sections of threads which are tied to form open lace-like effects. It is very slow to do, but that’s the joy – it’s about the process rather than the outcome. 

I have also been doing a postcard exchange with a group of friends. I am trying to draw one every day – and the pleasure of getting something real and home-made in the post is wonderful. It’s a very different way to stay in touch with people – a non-virtual, non-digital exchange. 

What positive change might come from Covid-19 for you, or your wider community, or the world at large?

I really hope I can hold onto something of the slower pace for myself. In the wider community we must show much more real recognition (in terms of wages and working conditions) to all the essential workers we all rely on every day. The pandemic has shown up the widening inequalities in this country, and we need real resolve for change. As a global society, we must also bring some of the energy and resolve which are in such evidence now to the climate crisis.

Any interesting projects, exhibitions or launches for later this year that you can share?

One project that will launch later in the year is a new blanket we have made for Fallingwater. It is called Carreg – Welsh for stone – and references the fireplace in the Guest House at Fallingwater. It is part of an ongoing project in which I have been responding to the architecture of the house through woven pattern. I have just written a post about it on our journal which you can see here.

Given time to reflect, what would be your wish for a new piece of furniture or lighting? 

I would really like a pig bench from Mick Sheridan’s ‘Welsh Vernacular’ series. They are a beautiful contemporary re-interpretation of a rustic tradition. A couple of years ago Mick used some of our Aerial fabrics for the upholstery on the Welsh Vernacular series and I have been dreaming of one ever since.

Any music or podcasts you would recommend? 

I have been listening to Max Richter’s 8 hour lullaby Sleep on radio 3 – the 2015 live recording from the reading room at the Welcome Collection. I was really sorry to miss the live ‘sleepover’ performance of this at the Barbican a couple of years ago so it has been great to be able to listen to the whole piece now. It is very mesmeric.

I have also recently finished reading ‘The Shepherd’s Life’ by James Rebanks about sheep farming in the Lake District. I really enjoyed the insights into his relationship with the landscape through shepherding – a way of life that in many ways is unchanged over the centuries. 

Please send us a photo from home of something you find inspiring. 

I find Rachel Scott’s work particularly inspiring – and now even more-so since reading ‘The Shepherd’s Life’. She spins her own yarn and makes wonderful hand-woven tapestry rugs. All the wool is undyed from British sheep breeds – the range of colours is extraordinary. We have three of her rugs at home and I really love them. There is a piece on our journal which I wrote about her work a couple of years ago here.

Many thanks to Eleanor for taking the time to talk to us.

 

 

Social Togetherness: Albert Hill in Conversation

May 2, 2020 · 0 Comments

Social Togetherness – twentytwentyone are honoured to work with wonderfully creative designers, makers and manufacturers and today we are talking to Albert Hill, co-founder of The Modern House.

Where’s home for you? 

Home for me is in Farnham, Surrey. On a quiet suburban street. 

What are the highlights of your home-working day?

Taking breaks to kick a ball around, jump on the trampoline or play table tennis with my two sons. And watching the blossom come out on our apple tree.

What creative pursuits are you doing now that you ordinarily wouldn’t manage if the world were at its normal pace?

The occasional bit of baking (not always successful) and lots of experimental smoothies and juice making!

Are you learning a new skill, craft or hobby?

One of my sons has been teaching himself the ukulele which has prompted me to pick up the acoustic guitar again.

What positive change might come from Covid-19 for you, or your wider community, or the world at large?

I am really enjoying spending this time with my family in the sunshine without being torn away by school and work. It’s definitely brought me, my wife, two sons (and dog!) closer together. I have also been overwhelmed by the positivity and commitment of our team at TMH in these challenging times. It’s only reinforced what I already knew – that we are lucky to have such great people to work with.

On a broader level, I think people will be realising, with the noise of endless choice turned down, what’s really important to them. So post-pandemic we will hopefully see people focus on fewer, better things and be a little less rampant in their consumerism.

Any interesting projects, exhibitions or launches for later this year that you can share?

We will be putting out a magazine later this year which should be great!

Given time to reflect, what would be your wish for a new piece of furniture or lighting? 

I am hoping that this question is a precursor to you granting that wish! I have been thinking a lot about rugs – I wouldn’t say no to a vintage Jean Lurcat rug. I also did an interview with the artist, Keith Coventry, for our magazine and he collects 17th Century English oak furniture and Flemish tapestries and his apartment looks so good with these pieces alongside an amazing contemporary art collection. That question of combining the new with the old is one I’ve been considering. It only makes me admire Scandinavian Modernism even more as the best of this really does go with, and hold its own, alongside anything. 

Ahm House – Image courtesy of Coppin Dockray, photography by James O. Davies.

Any music or podcasts you would recommend?

I only listen to two podcasts – Adam Buxton’s one and one called This Jungian Life. Like lots of people, good music has been really been buoying me along during this period. I’ve been particularly enjoying Cannonball Adderley played loudly with the doors to the garden open (hopefully my neighbours are fans too!). There’s a record label called Spacebomb, run by a guy called Matthew E. White and both his and his label’s Instagram feeds have really good recommendations of songs, artists, radio stations etc. My 12-year old son spends a lot of his time making music so I listen to his creations quite a lot which is something of a mixed blessing. My discovery of the lockdown period is a musician called Washington Phillips, a gospel singer from the early 20th century who made his own instruments.

Many thanks to Albert for taking the time to talk to us, our Social Togetherness series continues next week.

 

Social Togetherness: Jacob Plejdrup in Conversation

April 30, 2020 · 0 Comments

Today we’re talking to Jacob Plejdrup, founder of DK3 as part of our Social Togetherness series.

Where’s home for you?

Home is Denmark for me. A small safe country, where we trust in each other and where we take care of each other. Especially in these times of the Covid-19 it really shows…

What are the highlights of your home-working day?

Taking a phone-call and speaking from the terrace in the sun!

What creative pursuits are you doing now that you ordinarily wouldn’t manage if the world were at its normal pace?

Spending more time – more relaxed time – in the nature – which is the most inspiring thing for me!

What positive change might come from Covid-19 for you, or your wider community, or the world at large?

That we are forced to think differently – change is inevitable. We must consume less – be thoughtful – sustainable. Travel less. And appreciate/enjoy what we already have.

Any interesting projects, exhibitions or launches for later this year that you can share?

Our international to-date most successful dining table TEN TABLE will be launched in a round, extendable version this Summer.

Please send us a photo from home of something you find inspiring.

The south-side of our garden and house. The west-wind is stopped by the huge trees in the background. It’s my favourite spot in our private “park” for some sun, peace – and reflection.

Thank you, Jacob, for taking the time to speak to us.

 

 

Social Togetherness: Paula Day in Conversation

April 25, 2020 · 0 Comments

Social Togetherness – twentytwentyone are honoured to work with wonderfully creative designers, makers and manufacturers and today we are talking to
Paula Day.

Where’s home for you?

I live in a beautiful quiet part of Cumbria. I share my father’s passion for the outdoors and my mother’s for gardening – I’m so privileged to have been able make my home where my heart is.

What are the highlights of your home-working day?

The Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation’s office is at my home, so my work as Chair has continued very much as usual – except that I attend meetings by video conferencing instead of making monthly trips to London.

Before starting work first thing in the morning I walk round the garden to see what’s happening. At present the big wild cherry tree is festive with blossom, tulips are flaming, bees browse the pulmonaria flowers and birds are busy nesting – its heaven! After work I usually exercise by climbing the fell above my house, to look out across the valley and catch the last of the sunshine.

What creative pursuits are you doing now that you ordinarily wouldn’t manage if the world were at its normal pace?

I have a bit more time for what I have always loved doing – sowing vegetable seeds, pruning, planting, watering, weeding… I think of it as collaborating with nature!

What positive change might come from Covid-19 for you, or your wider community, or the world at large?

Covid-19 is giving us a foretaste of what it’s like when our fragile human edifice is rocked by forces we’ve unleashed and can’t control. Even if it were possible, we must not go back to what we thought of as ‘normal’ – a way of life which was dragging us inexorably towards climate catastrophe and human suffering on a much greater scale.  

My parents lived through the devastation of World War II and the great social and cultural reconstruction which they helped celebrate at the Festival of Britain in 1951. This new order included the founding of the NHS in Britain, and the global establishment of the United Nations and World Health Organisation, which we still rely on.

Like my parents’ generation of survivors, out of tragedy, we have the opportunity to join together to create a better society. One which supports all human beings equally and protects our shared home – the Earth. 

We’re already learning some of the skills we need. Instead of piling on carbon emissions by flying, we are video conferencing. Instead of driving private cars to distant destinations, we are exercising from our doorsteps. We’re appreciating the key work carried out by people who are paid least. And we’re discovering that we don’t have to keep up with consumer fashion.

My father had always understood the ethical imperatives of design:

Things should be made because they are better and with regard to the limited resources of the planet, so they should be re-usable and long-lasting. People often think that mere newness is innovation, but it isn’t.’ (Robin Day, 1999). 

Any interesting projects, exhibitions or launches for later this year that you can share?

There are some exciting projects on the way – we’ll announce them when we can in our quarterly Newsletter.

Many thanks to Paula for taking the time to speak to us.

 

 

Draw A Classic Chair Competition

April 22, 2020 · 0 Comments

During lockdown in a digital age, twentytwentyone are going back to basics. Time to play with pencils and paper, and to open our eyes to see things in a slightly different light.

We have five £100 gift vouchers to award for our Draw a Classic Chair Competition, independently judged by a panel of leading designers.

The competition doesn’t only rely on the accuracy or drawing skill, it is as much about a drawing with the most character and soul, and one that might capture the spirit of a historical design classic.

Choose your most coveted design, the chair can be one in your house, or a favourite from a book, film or museum.

Enter yourself, ask your children, suggest to a friend.

Submit your design here.

Please include your full contact details, age (where appropriate) and Instagram name, as we will publish some works as they arrive. Winners will be asked to post their original artwork so they can be scanned.

The closing date is May Day bank holiday, 08.05.2020.

Good Luck!

 

 

Social Togetherness: Koda Munetoshi in Conversation

April 18, 2020 · 0 Comments

Social Togetherness – twentytwentyone are honoured to work with wonderfully creative designers, makers and manufacturers and today we’re talking to Koda Munetoshi, CEO, Maruni Global Branding, Japan. Where’s home for you?

Tokyo, Japan

What are the highlights of your home-working day?

Maybe, the web-meeting by Zoom with my team.

What creative pursuits are you doing now that you ordinarily wouldn’t manage if the world were at its normal pace?

Our government has just declared the state of emergency a few days ago, so for me, the world was still at normal pace for the moment. But, from next week, the situation will be changed, so I would like to spend time to write a book (compile my know-how) to establish a brand in the international market for Japanese furniture manufactures because they’re still facing difficulties to penetrate own-brand into the international market.

Are you learning a new skill, craft or hobby?

Well, I learned how difficult to make my son finish his lunch within an hour.

What positive change might come from Covid-19 for you, or your wider community, or the world at large?

Thanks to “remote-working”, now I’m spending much, much, more time with my family, compared with before. It takes an hour (from door to door) to commute to my office, so I can spend at least 2 more hours with my family every day. I think I’m spending 3-4 hours with my kids now in a day. Before the Covid-19, I even couldn’t spend 30 min with kids in a day (weekday).
This is absolutely the positive change to me. And, a lot of fathers in Japan must agree with me, I guess.

Any interesting projects, exhibitions or launches for later this year that you can share?

Well, there is some news actually, but they need to be confidential for some more weeks.

Thank you, Koda, for taking the time to speak to us.

 

Social Togetherness: Mentsen in Conversation

April 16, 2020 · 0 Comments

Social Togetherness – today we’re talking to the design duo, Mentsen. Where’s home for you?

This summer it’ll be 20 years since we both, but separately, moved to London from Japan and we feel very much at home here. We’ve been renting a lovely 1930’s flat in Forest Hill for the last 14 years. With lots of green space in our estate and in the area, we feel lucky in this strange time.

What creative pursuits are you pursuing during this slower-paced period?

Risa is working on her collages and drawings and Yasu is exploring baking more with sourdough which he’s been keeping for 10 years.

Are you learning a new skill, craft or hobby?

We are trying to learn basic Italian with the Duolingo app. We have been going to Italy for more than 15 years, but never learnt their language and have always felt slightly ashamed of not trying at least.

What positive change might come from Covid-19?

There are already some silver linings as the result of this crisis, such as cleaner air and a wider appreciation and awareness of the importance of the key workers. We hope we don’t just go back to how they were when this is over. Also, optimists in us think, maybe the world could adopt a kinder, more cooperative policy and sustainable economic model.

Any interesting projects or exhibitions for later this year?

We worked on an exhibition design for The Maker’s Eye by Crafts Council which we were just finishing installing when London went into lockdown. It will be the first exhibition at their newly renovated gallery, featuring a wide range of works from their amazing collection. We hope they can open soon.

We have designed a two-seater version of Kinoko for Zilio A&C and it was going to be shown in Milan, but we haven’t seen the final sample yet as Italy went into lockdown before we could do a photo shoot.

Any music or podcasts you would recommend?

A friend recommended the Everything is Alive podcast last week; great for taking your mind off the news a bit and wandering off in the imaginary world of objects.

Many thanks Risa and Yasu for taking the time to talk to us.

 

 

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