Making the Comber Range
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...
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.