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Making the Comber Range

We've caught up with our skilled team of designers and makers to learn how our newest collection, The Comber Range, came to life.
comber

A brand new lighting collection brings with it new tools, techniques and challenges for our workshop team. Here at Tom Raffield we are constantly experimenting with our making processes - whether it's a new, innovative way to steam bend wood in isolated sections, or a more efficient and sustainable way to assemble multiple components together, if there's a chance to get creative you can guarantee our skilled team will be raring to learn. 

We've caught up with our lighting team to discover how our new Comber Range is crafted by hand and the new skills involved in forging a unique lighting collection...

comber
The Comber Range: step into the wave, invigorate your interiors.

"The Comber Lighting Range explores our relationship with the sea - the fluid organic shapes and the emotions it conveys. Our new designs produce cascading shadows and sweeping lighting effects that pay homage to one of nature’s most empowering elements, and one that never fails to inspire our work. We sought to create a lighting range that brought a piece of the Cornish coastline into people’s homes"

- Founder, Tom Raffield.

Designed...

Before our workshop team can bring to life any new product ranges, they have to go through a series of design stages. This initial design conception is lead by Tom, who finds inspiration in everything from the natural environment around his woodland home to the nearby Cornish coastline. Tom often sketches his ideas and, once he has a few potential designs in mind, begins experimenting in the workshop with wood and other mixed mediums to create fluid, dynamic shapes. Each concept in Tom's design journey is captured: the shapes that work, the ones with flaws and products that need to go back to the drawing board are all recorded.

Once the initial designs have been sketched and get the go-ahead, new products are then drawn on a computer by our CAD (computer-aided design) engineer. This is an important stage which ensures each product is designed with precise measurements, uniformity and is structurally sound prior to being prototyped by the rest of the team.

New products often start out as simple pencil sketches on paper and then evolve due to Tom's preferred method of designing: getting hands on in the workshop. 
tom drawing
Once sketched, designs are formed from mixed materials to test their flexibility, durability and strength.

Prototyped...

Aided by the technical CAD drawings, Tom and our team of makers begin creating prototypes for new designs such as our Comber Range. The quality and accuracy of the computer drawings means that our team are very efficient making the prototypes which, in turn, saves time on furthering the designs to the next stage.

Our team of makers then have time to test the prototypes to see which designs work best, experiment with techniques and processes to decide which designs should be developed further to become final products. Our Comber Lighting Range started out as a larger collection of designs which were tested and streamlined to produce three high quality products.

prototyping
After being drawn on CAD software, products have to be made into prototypes to see which designs work best. 

Handcrafted...

Like all of our product ranges, each design in our Comber Range varies from the next in its production methods. Each light has its own quirks and demands that our team needs to adhere to.

The Keel Pendant: The Keel Pendant is made up of a single, wide piece of oak or walnut wood. Cut to length, then steamed in a specially designed chamber that concentrates the steam to an isolated area of the timber, the Keel Pendant is then bent by hand by our team. Steaming the timber in one section allows the team to achieve a tight cone shape bend at the top of the design and a wider cone at the bottom. Once formed, the Keel Pendant is clamped in place before being trimmed and sanded, to ensure the neatest of finishes.

Workshop making
Testing curves and experimenting with the flexibility of different wood types is an important part of prototyping. 
offcuts
Wood off-cuts in our lighting workshop from Comber Range designs.
keel
Our Keel Pendants are held together by three brass rivets which have both structural function and aesthetic appeal. 
keel-2
Our Keel Pendants are derived from the shapes of Cornish sea shells, and produce defined funnels of diffused down lighting.

The Neap Wall Light: A single piece of oak or walnut is wrapped around a cylindrical roller to create the Neap’s signature bends. For this particular light, a complex jig had to be developed to achieve the Neap’s unique shape. The result is an intuitive lighting design that sweeps a soft ambient glow to far corners and suits an array of spaces.

neap
Our Neap Wall Light carves a perfectly balanced path of light to brighten above and below.
workshop bending
Formed around jigs: each product in our Comber Lighting Range is created using different methods.
cylindrical tubing
Wrapped around a cylindrical roller to create the signature curved waves, our Neap and Drift designs showcase new, innovative making processes.

The Drift Pendant: The Drift Pendant is made up of two pieces of sustainably sourced oak or walnut wood, attached to a central frame by screws. Like the Neap Wall Light, the pieces of timber are wrapped around a cylindrical roller to create the signature curved waves. These steam bent curves are then carefully attached to a plywood sub-frame which has been cleverly designed to hold itself together without the use of glue.

drift
The undulating waves of our Drift Pendant are reminiscent of the swells that lap the Cornish shoreline.
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