Husband and wife team, Rod and Alison Wales, have been designing and making furniture for more than 40 years. Their work features in the collections of the Victoria & Albert museum and the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge as historical examples of contemporary British furniture design. Here, Rod Wales talks about their design approach and their original pieces for Joined + Jointed.
How did you get into design? Seeing work in museums, and being encouraged by my tutors at Ryecotewood and Parnham (colleges that specialise in furniture design and making).
Do you have a ‘style’ and how did it develop? Our work is characterised by a robust, unelaborated elegance. We want our furniture to express a vernacular without compromising on refinement. This approach has developed over many years of looking at art and objects, thinking about them and trying things out within our means.
How would you define success? Achieving what you hoped you might, or even beyond what you hoped, to the extent that you find yourself able to carry on and try something else.
What’s your favourite piece of your own design? The ‘Span’ dining table for Joined + Jointed is definitely a contender. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that without Joined + Jointed’s makers it wouldn’t have been such a success. They had an instinctive understanding of what we were trying to realise and their handling of what were demanding details and joints was truly masterful. Both the ‘Span’ table and our ‘Caburn’ bench for Joined + Jointed were awarded Design Guild Marks.
What do you find most difficult to design? The most common response to this question is chairs, and they are tricky for all sorts of reasons. But none of it is easy to do well. Much of contemporary design aspires to express some form of ‘simplicity’ but as designers we very quickly realise that simplicity is never simple.
What do you do to fight a creative block? Look sideways at wonderful things.
What would your advice be to young designers? To develop a genuine self-critical faculty, and to exercise humility.
What’s the best thing about being a designer? In a small way, our work can make other lives richer as well as giving us as designers a sense of fulfilment. For more design ideas from the Joined + Jointed winter sale, browse the website or visit the store.
Enjoy 10% discount on all furniture orders during March and April 2020 Use code South online or in store.