We asked our team of designers and makers how they created our brand-new ash wood home accessories collection.
Our brand new home accessories collection was born from the desire to create a range of storage-focused designs to suit the modern home. Every steam bent design we create brings with it the need for new, innovative techniques, custom-jigs, specialist tools and a new set of challenges for our skilled team of designers and makers.
We asked the team for all the details on how this range came to life, from the initial ideas and sketches, to the rounds of testing and prototypes, all the way to making the finished product. Lets find out more...
“Our new collection celebrates the beauty of ash wood in all its varying tones and grains, making for a cohesive yet unique range of products. Sustainability is really important to us, so using ash wood was the obvious choice for this collection as it’s the fastest growing hard wood and also self-seeding, which means it grows in plentiful supply. This durable and supple material, paired with our ecological process, allows us to create these complex shapes with minimal wastage.”
Setting out to design our ash accessories we sought to create a product range that was both beautiful and practical. It had to be sustainable (our number one priority when producing new pieces), cohesive with our other steam bent collections, celebrate organic, natural materials and pay homage to biophilic design.
Drawing on years of steam bending expertise and wood research, Tom decided that ash wood would be the perfect material to use for this innovative product collection. As Ash wood is very fast-growing and self-seeding it is in bountiful supply and an incredibly sustainable material. Ash is one of the lightest and most durable hardwoods available, meaning we were able to experiment with creating complex twists and bends with lower rates of snapping and breakages. Once perfected, these sleek and ambitious curves became the cornerstone of the collection; ash gave just the right balance of flexibility we needed.
Perhaps the most important decision when it came to select the right material for the range was celebrating and embracing the tonal difference of ash wood. The aesthetic of ash can vary greatly from one tree to the next, some trees are warmer in tone giving them an oak-like appearance, others are paler and sport a pinker hue - this meant, that although this collection was to be cohesive in its materials and shapes, every piece would also be completely unique in grain and tone, making each one extra special.
Once Tom has sketched the initial designs, CAD drawings are created by our in-house engineering team to ensure the designs will function well in the home. Each product needs to be carefully engineered to make sure that it will work as intended, and that the stress on the wood caused by each twist and bend won’t compromise its strength and durability.
Once these CAD designs are finalised, the team then goes about creating 3D prototypes with lengths of ash wood to get a feel for how the designs will perform practically. The workshop team are also able to create custom jigs and experiment with techniques so that they are able to recreate the designs easily once they go into production.
Once the prototypes have been thoroughly tested and signed off by the design team, our workshop team begin making each new piece and learning the new processes. They carefully select lengths of air-dried ash wood to be steam bent, taking extra care to ensure that each of the component pieces are as similar as possible in grain colouration and tone.
The wood is then loaded into our steaming chambers and heated until it becomes supple enough to bend, which usually takes about an hour per inch thickness. Once the wood is ready it is bent around custom jigs that are designed in-house by our skilled engineering team to create the intricate twists and curves of each product.
The wood is clamped to the jigs and put into the drying room for a minimum of 24 hours to allow the shape to dry out and set in place. Once it’s ready to be taken out of the drying room the wood is removed from the jig and any necessary screw holes that will be needed for assembly are drilled. The product is then sanded with an electric sander to remove any water marks or imperfections in the grain and finished with a thorough hand sanding before being quality-checked.
Once the design is deemed in line with our high quality craftsmanship, the product is hand-oiled with a natural hard wax. This takes a few days to dry, but once ready, it provides a layer of protection from scratches and sun-bleaching. Next The brass details are added and component parts are assembled by the team before finally being packed up in our plastic-free packaging ready to be dispatched to a new forever home.
Contemporary wooden shelving, mirrors and wall hooks, inspired by the sculptural tree canopies that surround our Cornish studios, combine function and elegance whilst showcasing our signature twists and paired-back functional design.