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Workshop 101

17 June 2021

We caught up with our master craftspeople to get the lowdown and the latest updates from our workshop…

Our workshop team come to work each day to produce the highest quality, sustainable homeware and lighting designs they can. Whether they are autonomously working together as a team to accomplish a larger scale bend (our Amble Hanging Chair for example), they are consistently pushing the limits of what steam bending can achieve.

Workshop members bending wood
Safia (right), our furniture team leader, leads and supports the furniture team with all bends, no matter how big or small.

Briefed by Tom and the design team, our workshop members are often given time to develop their own steam bending ideas or think of innovative new ways to use any offcuts of wood to produce sustainable, new purposeful designs. This is followed up with time to work closely alongside Tom pitching and developing their ideas, as well the opportunity to learn new skills.

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All of our workshop team are passionate about the craft of steam bending and thrive on the opportunity to work creatively - pushing their ideas and skills to their limits.
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With a key focus on being sustainable and producing as little waste as possible, the team are always thinking up new ways to reduce any wood wastage and repurpose any offcuts that we do produce.

The Lighting Lowdown

With the recent launch of our Leven Lighting Range, the workshop team have learnt new processes and techniques. Ash leads our lighting workshop team to great success with training and support, ensuring the Leven Lighting Range is as strong as it can be, as well as ensuring our classic designs stay as streamlined and efficient as possible.

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Each layer of the designs that make up our new Leven Lighting Range has been thoughtfully crafted to represent the striking formations of smooth sea-eroded cliff faces and ridged headlands that distinguish the north coast of Cornwall.

Unlike Anything Before...

Our Leven Lighting Range contrasts any design we have crafted in the past, being the only design that includes lengths of timber with varying widths. This has brought new challenges for our team to face as they have had to ensure every strip of sustainably sourced wood is balanced equally, creating the beautiful layers.

Like the majority of our designs, the Leven Range does not use any harsh chemicals or glue; the timber layers are screwed into the plywood frame that provides the structure of each light. Not only is this kinder on the environment, but it also ensures each piece in the new range can be easily repaired or altered should any damage occur to it in the future.

Anticipating Change

Ash spends time with each member of our lighting team, ensuring they are fully supported and capable of crafting lights to the highest Tom Raffield standard.

With businesses opening back up, we are once again anticipating larger orders from our ‘trade’ accounts (in the hospitality sector), as well as being adaptable to customers’ needs. This means we are getting in the practice of crafting multiple units of each design, with the vision of being able to hold our most popular pieces in stock – which inadvertently means we’d have the ability to dispatch designs to their forever homes quicker.

Scandinavian design principles and our sought-after aesthetic, merged. In the Skipper Pendant, sustainable ash, oak or walnut is hand-shaped to create an open light that casts out and up, in a bright, bold contrast of light and shadow.

After listening to your incredibly helpful feedback, we have adapted the size of our Skipper Pendant Large. The Skipper Large has been adapted to ensure it can be safely shipped globally – since the design changes, the pendant has successfully past tests carried out by our logistics team. This means that we’re experiencing a lesser return rate of pendants that have to be repaired and consequently, have created a much more sustainable design and a reduced carbon footprint.

New Advancements

We caught up with Safia, our furniture team leader to find out how life in our furniture workshop has changed over the last couple of months. Using the springtime to reflect on our processes and newest designs, Safia has had the chance to train the team accordingly and ensure they are consistently crafting the highest quality pieces they can.

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Safia, works closely with Tom to ensure our team members feel confident and supported whilst crafting our designs using the age-old practice of steam bending.

We work in the most efficient, sustainable way producing very little wood wastage is vital to our mission – that’s why we’re always checking our jigs are performing to their best ability.

Our Stuggy Side Table jig has recently been re-fabricated by our engineering team to ensure that the bend is more accurate, allowing each piece of sustainably sourced wood to flow seamlessly over one another to showcase the beauty of the craft.

The Burgh Coat Hook jig has also been updated. Though only slightly different in design, the new jig now creates a more subtly angled bend, - which showcases the wooden twist in the centre of the hook perfectly. The updated jig also makes the bend easier for the team to carry out, which in turn increases the likelihood that the design is well crafted and will last a lifetime.

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Crucial to our making process, all our jigs are subjected to wear and tear, so are monitored closely to ensure they perform adequately after every use.
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With every twist purposeful and beautiful, our workshop team ensure that every Tom Raffield piece crafted is finished to perfection.

With sustainability at the forefront of our progressive business outlook we’re committed to only using sustainably sourced wood from responsibly managed forests.

Getting Steamy...

It’s no surprise that our wood steamer is one of the most important pieces of equipment in our workshops, so we always make sure it is in tip-top shape. We recently had the steamer re-designed, to keep up with our innovative new designs and techniques. This enables us to continue to push steam bending to its limits and means our new ideas can always come to fruition. With the re-design, the team are now able to streamline the efficiency of their making process, whilst getting the best performance they can out of the wood.

Final touches

We are consistently checking every inch of our designs; guaranteeing they will last for generations to come and meet our very high-quality standards. We do our best to ensure each piece of feedback is taken to the team and used to better ourselves. Ensuring each design is strong and will last a lifetime is vital when crafting our products, we aim to push-back against consumerist ‘throwaway culture’ and eradicate the need and desire to replace homewares in a few years.

The new design of the tripod will showcase our new and classic designs beautifully, whilst still being crafted from sustainably sourced wood.

Our tripod, a crucial component in our Floor Light designs, has exciting changes coming soon. The new design incorporates more of our sustainable wood, which can be assembled easier when it arrives in its new home, as well as making it stronger and long lasting. The legs have also been made slimmer, meaning the packing process is much simpler and more economical.

We use Abraham Moon & Son for all of our upholstered designs. Sustainably sourced, and ethically made, the fabric Moon produce not only feels great to the touch but is made from natural wool fibres that will decompose at the end of their long lifespan.

One of Safia’s favourite conversations with the workshop team is about bespoke fabrics. When a bespoke fabric is requested from Abraham Moons & Son for an upholstered design, everyone is in the team is instantly excited and can’t wait to see the final outcome. It sparks exchanges about their personal style at home, and what kind of interior the design would suit. This discussion inspires new ideas and designs, whilst highlighting what diverse interests are brought together in the workshop, as well as the universal love for great design.

Posted: 17.06.21
Updated: 20.06.21

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