PINCH: Creating thoughtful designs for thoughtful spaces
We met at work, in one of his other lives, Russell used to run a marketing/graphics agency and I worked as an account handler a million moons ago. We both found ourselves side tracked by the world of marketing. It didn’t take long after we got together for Russell to decide to break away from owning a fairly large design business and to go back to his true love of being a furniture designer. I needed little persuasion to remove myself from the world of focus groups, to build our own business that we believed in creatively and emotionally.
I have always been obsessed by spaces and making sanctuaries. My dad is not materialistic, and a true hero of skip finds. I always loved the pieces he would find, usually fallen into some disrepair, but essentially well made items with beautiful and proper detailing. The second language of furniture has always spoken to me on a weird hippy level, and I always read the persona of a piece.
The three things that we expect are strong shape and proportion, beautiful materiality, and expert making. Our pieces are simple, but arrive at simplicity whilst delivering dimensionality is actually a huge challenge. A certain element of poise and elegance is also really important to us, when we are reviewing our prototypes we talk about them as humans, ‘she needs to draw her waist in,'‘those feet are too pigeon toed’. We seek to design with a lightness of touch rather than an egotistical weight; and we hope that makes for pieces that feel effortlessly poised but also instinctive.
OB: Working for Mr and Mrs Smith reminded me not to compromise, and to appreciate the whole. There were many times I visited hotels with great architecture but terrible fake wood floors, such a shame to skimp on some aspects where there is so much potential. I realise now that it is very rare to find places or things that are done really well across the board, and that is our ambition. It’s definitely a journey, but it is our guiding light.
Working together allows us to dream and plan, and I think we actually achieve a lot more than the sum of our individual energies. Another great aspect of working together is that when it all feels a bit much for one of you, the other than carry the can for a bit until you can get back in the zone. Of course the worst thing can be never switching off, but 15 years in I think we are able to realise when it happens. We both know the value of just checking out mentally for a bit. When it's clear you need to just talk about anything other than the business.
Daydreaming and range planning. Discussion of moods, and how these might play into to the form, palette and materials. Then Russell starts model making, usually 1:5 with balsa wood. We review this back and forth, deep diving on colours, edges, and overall experience. Then our design assistants will start to build a full size prototype for us to finalise the details, and then we will move to technical drawings and workshop liaison.
Blacks on Dean Street, The Design Museum, Newport Street Gallery, Tate Modern extension by Herzog & de Meuron
Do you have any Less Ordinary hidden gems in London that you can share with us?
St John Restaurant, Jasper Morrison shop, Barrafina, The French House, Couverture & The Garb store in Notting Hill for excellent fashion from emerging and artistic brands.
Throughout your travels, has there ever been a Less Ordinary space abroad whose design really resonated with you?
Silent House in Santa Clara, Lisbon.
In what ways do you try to be less ordinary with what you do?
Don’t cut corners, sculpt your shapes, dare to dream.
Interview by Hannah Tan-Gillies