Interview with David Fox - One of the UK's leading furniture designers.

A quick Q&A with David Fox , who has had a major design input to many of the chairs featured on our site.

This month Adam Dunn from ChairCompare interviewed international award winning furniture Designer David Fox about his role in furniture design.

Here's what he had to say..

A.D How long have you been designing furniture for the contract sector ?

D.F I began designing bedroom furniture as early as 1997 for a tubular steel manufacturer jay-be ltd.

In 2002 I established my own industrial and product design consultancy, which focused on domestic initially.

A.D What made you start  designing office based chairs?

D.F The domestic sector was hell bent on buying containers from china, so design wasn’t as valued in the sector really. Easier to buy a finished solution cheap……..Very sad as most of them went to the wall because of it.

However brands in the U.K like Allermuir, Connection, and Boss Design were beginning to support and promote Design and designers…..so the door knocking and approaching these brands began!

There were still a lot of very conventional type tub chairs around at this time in the UK market, and I loved what was happening in Italy at the time, much sleeker product.

A.D You recognised a new  market opportunity, how did you approach it?

D.F My door knocking quickly taught me, that I had zero experience of designing chairs in this sector, so I had to prove myself to myself, before proving that I could do it to the market !.

I designed four chairs one of them was Kruze, Zone, Smile later to become Kurvi, and Korus, and began knocking again but offering semi solved conceptual solutions.

Boss Design, proceeded with Kruze, Pledge office chairs took Zone, Kurvi is with Turkish manufacturer Deberenn, and Korus was taken on by Connection.

A.D  You have been in business fifteen years, who else have you worked for?

D.F It’s been a very buoyant fifteen years and I have had the pleasure of working with some fantastic companies on home soil and internationally.

In the UK, there has been continuation of new products with Edge Design, Connection, Boss & Lyndon design, and some new clients including Naugtone, Camira, Ocee Design, Knightsbridge furniture, and Gresham Design.

In the international arena, Tonon (Italy), Jori (Belgium) Bert Plantagie (Netherlands), Teknion (Canada),  Ahrend (Netherlands)  Koleksiyon (Turkey),  Techo (Czech republic), Tuna Ofis (Turkey) Deberenn (Turkey)  Manuel Larraga (spain) and  Design Chair Sofa ( Turkey)

A.D And  how did you acquire these clients?

D.F Jumped on a plane and went to see them directly, or began to understand what they did from exhibitions around the globe.

A.D How important is the understanding of your customers needs in the process of designing a chair?

D.F Understanding the importance of what the customer does, and how they do it is paramount to the success of a product, you need to understand their market position, what materials would be feasible unfeasible. “If you ignore these points in my opinion it will fail”

A.D What part of designing a chair is pure creativity?

D.F Creativity is my job and the seed of a growing flower, it’s about finding shapes solutions that haven’t been done before, and presenting them in an innovative way, looking at other inspirations, architecture, nature, and engineering, sometimes there is a solution in another field which adapted can solve a current problem.

A.D Explain the process ?

D.F Nowadays a client provides a brief, or a hole in the market that hasn’t been filled. A number Freehand sketches, ideas, observations, research are then presented to the client, we discuss the potential of each, with the owners, sales teams etc. A design or designs are selected to develop further.

The product is refined using 3d software,  3d visuals of what the product will look like, it’s almost like a digital photo, we can spin it round to show all views, show suggested fabrics and materials.

These 3D models are created at 1/1 scale on a computer, so we can approach sub-component manufacturers with a guide price to what all the parts could cost. So from an early stage we can evaluate style, and commercial price points for the product.

When the client is happy, it goes through the process of prototyping, where we evaluate comfort, ergonomics, scale, stability, manufacturability and so on.

A.D How many prototypes are made?

D.F Depending on the complexity of the product, I would say we have never made any more than 3 prototypes before solving all the problems. The aid of computers makes this process faster, in the days of Charles Eames many prototypes were made, they didn’t have 3d software to look at form in a product at an early stage.

A.D  After the initial problems are solved how long does it take to get into production?

D.F It can take anything from 3 months to 3 years depending on the complexity of the parts, if a lot of mouldings plastic or aluminium, tooling is required which can take up to 12 weeks just to make the tools, then you have to look at pre-production trials. If I were to take an average from concept to completion I would say successful and efficient development programme takes between 9-12months.

A.D  What is the most rewarding part for David Fox?

Seeing both client and end user happy with the results, I enjoy refining the shapes revisiting details to improve them through the development process, and trying to tick as many boxes as possible. Is the product functional? Is it beautiful? , and is it fit for the purpose intended?

As a rule of thumb if it stands the test of time, then the 3 questions have been answered, and proved.

We have won some of the highest ranking international awards including Red dot, Good Design Award, FX and Mixology International designer of the year. This is also very rewarding as it’s your industry approving the work you do.

A.D Before we sign off is there anything new to come we should know about and tell our readers?

D.F I am launching new products at  Orgatec in Germany next month, we have some brand new models for Deberenn.  Two new fabric collections will be launched for Panaz in the coming months. Our Jentle chair has found a new home and will be launched as Spekta for Knightsbridge furniture. 

A.D Thank you for your time in your very busy schedule, and we all look forward to seeing your ever growing design collection in our workspace in the future.

To find out more, visit Davids web site at www.davidfoxdesign.co.uk

 

ChairCompare Limited
4thFloor, Gray's Inn Chambers,
Gray's Inn, London, WC1R 5JA, England


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