William Warren

London based product and furniture designer
Posts Tagged ‘process led’

Attempts to revisit the trug

I organised a group of designers to examine the craft of Sussex Trug making this year. To start with a few of us went to visit John Carnell, one of the last remaining trug makers in Sussex who still makes trugs the traditional way. My visit to John can be read about here.

Following our introduction into the craft, a few of us developed new concepts that tie in with Trugs. These images show the pretty little DIY trug designed by…

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Over the weekend,  myself and Gareth Neal went down to Hastings to learn how to make Sussex Trugs. We were taught by John Carnell who has been making trugs for many years. He is one of the few trug makers who uses only hand processes, splitting his wood down into planks rather than cutting it on a machine. John was an excellent teacher and great company.

The Sussex Trug is a type of traditional basket made in the South East. Originally,…

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bodging milano

From 30th March to April 5th 2010, nine designers went in the woods of deepest Herefordshire. With the help of Gudrun Leitz and her assistant Paul, each designer had to make a greenwood chair in the outdoor workshop. The challenge was in getting out of the studio, away from drawing boards, computer screens, and mechanised equipment and back into the hands-on world of the original country chair-makers. In the woods there is no electricity, only pole lathes, steam benders and some…

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Chinese Whispers

Willow pattern is a common English crockery design that has been popular for over two hundred years. The pattern originates from China and was ‘interpreted’ by Europeans. This version is now it is manufactured in Japan. The design has traveled backward and forward with a suitable amount of development with each trip, like the game of Chinese whispers.

The ceramics are produced in the usual way, with transfers applied to standard white ceramics, but this time with each piece ‘wearing’ the…

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Wipe Mirror


This is an early example of process led product design. I started this project in 2001.

I wiped stop-out varnish onto mirrors and allowed the varnish to run as it dried. The mirrors were later emersed in a bath of sugar acid, which etched into the glass that was not protected with varnish. The mirrors were then cleaned of varnish to reveal a series of unique patterns that resemble condensation. The design now produced in Japan by screen printing in a…

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Sleeping Rough

This is a design that explores both narrative and production methods. The bed was made in Birmingham by a company who would normally produce standard park benches. They were able to manufacture the bed using their existing tooling jigs, skills and material suppliers, for a fraction of the price of a hand built bed, made by other UK joinery firms. They were also able to include other lovely details such as the engraved text in the headboard and they explained…

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Indent Crockery

One of my early experiments with manufacturing intervention combined with narrative from 2000. The crockery was produced by a well-known ceramics factory in Stoke on Trent where I was allowed to interrupt the production line in mid flow. I sat and bit the plates myself as they were produced, leaving them to continue through production to be picked up in quality control.

The final result appears as if someone has been so hungry that they have tried to eat the plates.

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No Smoking

No Smoking ashtray

One of my first products and an example of inventive use of materials and contrary narrative. The first series of ashtrays were produced using no smoking signs from the sign shop near my workshop. The aluminium signs were pressed on a simple wooden tool.

I originally produced the ashtrays myself in batches of fifty and at one point I was personally selling them to nine countries around the word. This of course ended up being a beyond me and I stopped,…

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Manila Letter Box

Produced by a C.N.C. punching and folding machine, in sheet steel, using the dimensions and construction language of manila envelopes.

Designed in collaboration with Carl Clerkin.

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Drunk Wine Glass

This design grew from the observation that when identical objects roll off the production line, it is the mistakes that have more quality and personality.

With the difficult craft of glassblowing, the more skilled you are, the more perfect or identical your blown pieces will be. The better you are at the craft, the more your output will look like a machine had produced them. It seems a shame that one of the aims of the skill is to hide itself.


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