Follow the footsteps of Tom Raffield for a day and gather insight into our inspiration, design and steam bending processes…
From dawn walks, finding inspiration and design prototyping, discover how our Founder, Tom, spends his busy working days.
From the structure of rock formations to the unpredictable organic patterns found in nature, Tom finds beauty and inspiration from across Cornwall's landscapes. Whether enjoying woodland walks or coastal strolls, the attraction of Cornwall knows no bounds, and Tom soaks in this attraction to inspire each of our handcrafted homeware designs.
Tom’s passion is to protect the natural world that provides his endless inspiration. The craft of steam bending is a low energy method that allows sustainably sourced timber to be pushed to its limits. Each design is crafted with little or no glue and produces very low quantities of waste, all of which is locally recycled.
Finding a quiet place to put pen to paper and sketching ideas is a key step in Tom’s design journey. Taking shape from a simple line drawing, each new design is carefully considered. The initial sketch is then examined in detail, taken apart and questioned from a structural and engineering perspective to ensure it can be physically manufactured in the workshop.
Whether crafted from offcuts of other designs, or formed from a piece of scrap paper, the prototyping stage of developing new designs is a varied step which conveys Tom’s newest idea in a unique, creative way.
Once the concept has been initially modelled by Tom he's keen to share the latest idea with his design team, where they will consider many elements including wood type, new workshop processes, efficiency, waste, longevity and ways in which it could be easily repaired if necessary. Then, after every little detail is considered, Tom hands the design over to one of our CAD Technician who will draw it up on a computer software programme, where tweaks are continuously made until a sustainably crafted design is masterfully modelled. This stage can sometimes be challenging as Tom may have to temporarily ‘park’ an idea whilst this happens and await a final outcome. However, more often than not, Tom and his team are successful in problem solving and able to share these new designs with the rest of the team.
These new designs are then prototyped from our sustainably sourced timber trio, ash, oak, and walnut to see which woods work best for each design from both an aesthetic and making perspective.
Once the prototyping stage is complete, our talented workshop team are then trained to make the exciting new designs. Faced with handcrafting a challenging design, our enthusiastic makers are always eager to learn new skills and techniques. When the team were handed the Verso Lighting Range, they were quick to grasp the importance of careful balance and how the thoughtfully placed, offset 'top plate', aids in stabilising our very first asymmetrical lighting range.
Every moment with Tom in the workshop is used to learn and hone new skills, whilst finessing current steam bending techniques.
Each design our workshop team make is finished with an eco-friendly, water-based varnish which provides a protective, natural finish. Before being packed by our logistics team, each piece is checked one final time to ensure it's fit to become an heirloom of the future.