Heal’s has a long history of working with emerging design talent; its most recent manifestation being the annual Heal’s Discovers collection, which highlights the brand’s commitment to design education by discovering and nurturing the next generation of designers.
This autumn sees the 10th anniversary of Heal’s Discovers, and the brand new collection will be launched at Heal’s Tottenham Court Road store during this year’s London Design Festival (13-21 September 2014). In addition, the range will be on display at 100% Design, the longest running contemporary design event in the UK, from 17-20 September 2014.
Working closely with four universities that share the same ethos as Heal’s, the retailer has handpicked five graduates to make their debuts; each is keen to showcase their own individual take on contemporary craftsmanship. The chosen designers are Philip Luscombe and Josh South with their Rickard step-stool; Sam Lloyd with his Sand Cast stool; Ester Comunello with her Turn coffee table, floor lamp and mirror; and Tom Parfitt with his Maya side table. The five have been mentored by the Heal’s product and design team and given the opportunity to have their pieces manufactured and retailed in-store.
Rickard Stool by Philip Luscombe & Josh South
Luscombe and South’s paths crossed at Northumbria University where both studied Three Dimensional Design: Furniture and Product. Discovering that they had a lot in common, the pair decided to collaborate and set up their own design studio alongside their other commitments; Luscombe is furthering his studies with a PhD and South is taking full advantage of the workshop facilities as part of the university’s Designers in Residence programme. The Rickard stool, designed exclusively for Heal’s, is the duo’s first fully realised project together.
Made from contrasting natural and fumed oak, Rickard is a multi-functional piece that can be used as a step, seat or side-table. Key to the visual character of the design is its top and step which are darkened to complement the form, and curved for comfort, making the piece suitable for both sitting and standing. When used as a step, the curve reassuringly guides its user to its centre, and the contrasting dowls create a crown so the user can see where it is safest to stand. The duo likes the idea of the stool ageing gracefully; as with more use, an attractive patina will emerge from the fumed oak.
Rickard was the result of a series of “surprises” that occurred through prototyping, and the duo prefer to grow their designs through the making process as opposed to a series of sketches.
Philip Luscombe and Josh South comment, “It is much more fun and you discover a lot more when you are launched into making. This process of full-scale prototyping seems to us to be the most enjoyable and sensible way to go about designing.”
Sand Cast Stool by Sam Lloyd
Sam Lloyd graduated from Kingston University with a BA (Hons) in Product & Furniture Design and a growing list of accolades – shortlisted for an award at New Designers 2013, featured as one of Icon Magazine’s “Graduates 2013” review and selected to exhibit in Part Two of New Designers 2014’s “One Year On”.
For Heal’s Discovers, Lloyd has created the Sand Cast Collection – a low stool and a bar stool named after the method used to craft their key components.
The collection started out as one of Lloyd’s university final major projects, where he was encouraged to break free from the studio environment and explore different manufacturing techniques. After experimenting, this design provided the best seat, both in terms of comfort and aesthetic appeal. Both stool designs can be easily assembled, with the trio of fumed oak and oak legs screwing effortlessly into the seat; these are then supported by an aluminium brace.
Sam Lloyd comments, “I wanted the design to remain as raw as possible, to display the honesty and natural finishes of the chosen materials.”
The texture of the sand cast aluminium is inconsistent, meaning that every single stool produced varies slightly, making each one unique. The flow marks left by the mould are bead-blasted, and the top is only lightly polished to ensure that the texture remains.
With Lloyd’s design, Heal’s continues its support of British design and manufacture with the stool being cast in Belvedere, South East London and the timber hand-turned in Whitstable.
Turn Collection by Ester Comunello
Brazilian designer and furniture maker Ester Comunello grew up playing with tools in her family’s woodcarving workshop in rural Brazil. After moving to the UK in 2004, Comunello first studied Contemporary Furniture and Product Design at Bucks New University, before joining the university’s MA programme, which she completed at the beginning of 2014. Throughout her studies she worked on projects with companies including Ercol, Isokon, Corian, Gloster, Lago and All Lovely Stuff, and in 2012 she became a runner up at the Student Furniture Designer of the Year Award.
Comunello doesn’t believe she has a specific style, saying, “My work is more about responding to a problem or a brief. The aesthetic follows the process.”
The Turn collection was the result of Comunello’s Masters research, a study about dexterity and craft. The idea was to create objects using simple assembly processes that are intuitively understood by their users, encouraging them to engage with the product. Inspired by observing the way we use our hands to grab things, Comunello has created a pared-back but characterful collection to encourage user interaction. Her range for Heal’s Discovers is made in Norwich and comprises a beech coffee table, mirror and a floor lamp, which can clamp onto other furniture pieces or surfaces.
Maya Concrete Side Table by Tom Parfitt
Tom Parfitt’s journey into the world of design began back in 2005 after leaving school. The emerging designer started an apprenticeship in cabinet making at British furniture brand Benchmark, manufacturer of the Heal’s Cranborne range. Having spent five years there, surrounded by the work of prominent designers such as Russell Pinch, Tomoko Azumi and Steuart Padwick, he decided to formally study furniture design. During his degree in Furniture: Design & Make at Rycotewood in Oxford, which works in partnership with Bucks New University as part of the National School of Furniture, Parfitt developed new design skills and was able to explore different methods of working.
Maya side table was inspired by the interesting ways that Soviet era modernist architecture and high tech architecture use concrete to blur the lines between structural elements and decoration. The design was the result of a series of sketches of various different shapes that could be subtracted from a solid block of material, to create a more complex three-dimensional form. Parfitt decided that a triangle allowed for interesting lines and a more dynamic form, and so developed that idea, progressing to refine the proportions and scale: “The success of the design is in part about keeping it as simple as possible.”
Parfitt’s Maya creates an immediate visual impact and physicality. Made from over 90% recycled material, it is manufactured in Cheltenham with each stool taking three days to make.
“When I heard I had been selected to be part of Heal’s Discovers, I was overcome with excitement. It took a while to sink in and to come to terms with the great opportunity lying ahead of me,” he says.
This collective forms part of Heal’s central showcase during the London Design Festival (13-21 September 2014). All pieces will be available to buy in Heal’s Tottenham Court Road store, and at 100% Design (17-20 September 2014).
For further details please contact Heal’s PR agency, Caro Communications: firstname.lastname@example.org – 020 7713 9388
Image & loan requests: Lauren Bardini, PR Assistant – email@example.com – 020 7896 7553
Heal’s has been designing, making and selling quality furniture for more than two centuries now, so it’s no surprise that it’s known as ‘the home of modern and contemporary designer furniture’. Starting out as a bed-makers in 1810, and later embracing the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement, Heal’s has a long history of collaborating with prominent designers. Heal’s is as passionate today as it’s always been about introducing new ranges, discovering stars of the future and pushing the boundaries of outstanding contemporary design.