This year, five judges from The Conran Shop’s senior team headed to New Designers 2019 to grant one lucky winner the award of a lifetime. On the hunt for a design that demonstrates both growth potential within the design industry and reflects Sir Terence Conran’s design ethos, our judges selected Huw Evans for his innovative Iris collection.
We sat down with Huw to find out more about the story behind his design.
1. Congratulations on winning the inaugural The Conran Shop Design Award, how do you feel?
I'm unbelievably excited about my design career.
2. How has the work of Sir Terence Conran influenced your work?
I share a similar belief to Sir Terence in that designers, particularly furniture designers, should not only have an in-depth understanding of the processes but additional knowledge and experience working with the materials.
3. When did you first get involved in furniture design and how has it lead you here?
My passion for 3D Design began whilst studying at school in the North West, from there I went on to study on the 3D Design: Designer Maker degree at the University of Plymouth. Whilst at university I chose to specialise as a Designer Maker as I believed gaining first-hand experience working with materials would later help to inform my design process. This has paid off and working directly with materials has also helped me to understand the full manufacturing process.
4. Which is your favourite piece from design history?
Despite the fact we both use very different materials, I’ve always been drawn towards the work Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and most significantly his working ethos. Mies van der Rohe was not the first to practice simplicity in design, but he carried the ideals of minimalism to new levels.
5. What makes a timeless design?
Simple forms, subtle detailing and great materials.
6. Tell us a bit more about your work and the process behind it?
Each chair, table and lighting design in the Iris collection is created by methodically processing single pieces of English ash and American black cherry wood. Cutting the wood systematically allows me to stretch it and manipulate it, adding a sense of fluidity to the design.
A feature I’ve emphasised in the collection is the bandsaw marks, which are the lacerations left by the bandsaw blades. They’re a typically frowned-upon feature that you’d normally sand away, but I’ve emphasised them by finishing only the exterior of the timber. This manipulation of the wood enhances not only the material but also the woodworking process.
7. Looking around, did you see any emerging trends among the other designers?
I felt there was a greater appreciation of designs which highlighted the material rather than just using it as a building block. This seemed to be the case for both the emerging designers as well as the judges.