Text: Tilly Stasiuk / Photo by: James Robjan
Dean Edmonds is the East London-based prolific talent building a pragmatic and promising future for furniture design. Inspired by California’s Pacifica Movement and his dads home-grown steel business, Dean is now imprinting his own individuality on the vista. With his roots firmly in minimalist conceptualism, industrialism, and Ragtime textiles, Dean’s motley skill set has led him on to work with the likes of Prufrock, American Apparel, and Yvon Lambert Librairie.
Dean stands as firmly in his approach as the shelf he stacks on- creating exclusive pieces for boutiques, galleries, friends, and private commissions around the world. We caught up with Dean, for a coffee and a chat about his latest work from stimulus to installation. Street to seat.
1. Tell us about your background before becoming a furniture maker?
Well I grew up in and around workshops, making stuff, pulling things apart, putting them back together, so I suppose without even knowing, that was the start of me making- and I just never really stopped. I studied Industrial Design and that’s when I found that I wanted to do furniture design, and that was it really. As soon as I finished Uni I started making things. I go back home to make stuff, in Herefordshire. My workshop’s in the middle of nowhere, in the countryside. My dad’s a steel fabricator and has his own business, so that’s always been in the family. I share his workshop with him.
2. What materials do you most commonly and comfortably use?
Oak. The piece I brought here today is oak. Steel’s a big one too- that’s come from my dad’s influence. I’ve always been messing around using that.
3. Your designs have a minimalist touch with an attractive intelligence in simplicity. Sleek yet pragmatic design. What kind of owner or user are you imagining when you design these pieces?
To be honest, I just design things that I like, and hopefully people similar to myself would be in to them. It’s not about a person in particular, it’s just anyone who enjoys it and appreciates it.
4. Do you take any inspiration from certain designers, or a particular culture, or heritage from another country?
There are so many. I take inspiration from everything really. Things you see in the street. Just small things like brackets, even how a shutter works, all the things that you might be working on that make you answer something. I’m really into the Pacifica Movement which comes out of 50s California. The designs are from Europeans that emigrated to America with their countries materials. They took their own influences from the weather and the landscape. I also go to Japan a lot. When you get to rural Japan, it’s all about huge slabs of wood.
5. When re-designing an existing object such as a clothing rail or shelf, what is your approach?
The rail- that’s on my website, obviously it has to be able to work, everything is designed around what it is used for- so to hang a jacket. Stripping it back, making it as simple as it can be- and the shelf too is my approach.
6. Please tell us more about the chair you designed and made incorporating material from a heritage blanket. Why did you choose to include this in particular?
Well I was just playing around with that chair. For me, personally, I collect Navajo blankets. All those traditional materials just worked well with the chair and the leather straps.
7. You have designed and made pieces for numerous stores and cafes such as American Apparel, Yvon Lambert Librarie, and Other Shop London. How did these come about?
I just let everything happen really. It’s more word of mouth than anything. At the moment there is a steady trickle of work and getting to know people is how I like to work. All of the people I have met along the way have led to other things happening.
8. What is your research process for new materials or traditional styles for your inspiration?
Again, it just depends what I see, inspiration from a lot of things I see day to day.
9. Are there any materials you’d like to explore and research to use in the future?
At the moment, I’d quite like to use some kind of marble or granite. I am designing a kitchen at the moment, so there’s going to be a marble work surface, it’s so out of what I normally do, it’s nice to work on something completely different to what I do now. People normally approach me and ask you for something that I’ve already done, but ultimately I’d love to make anything- if there’s a problem I’ll try and solve it. Anything out of the norm would be nice.
10. And lastly, what projects can we await from you this year, apart from the kitchen?
More items through ‘A-Platform’, it’s a friend of mine’s store, so that’s all fast going, only a few pieces left. Everything is available from my website too. I’m looking at making some small pieces, to buy, more quantities- making it more accessible for people.
Lovely man. Thanks Dean.