For one week in February 2015, six world-class furniture designer-makers took part in The Great Heal’s Bodging Race in the retailer’s Tottenham Court Road store, as part of its annual Modern Craft Market. The bodgers brought their craft furniture to life in the store’s front window, and the race was won by Gareth Neal with his oak and leather chair, voted by Heal’s customers. Neal’s winning chair, which has been refined by the designer and Heal’s in-house team, is produced by Contempo, ready for its launch during London Design Festival this September.
During The Great Heal’s Bodging Race, the bodgers created a series of handmade furniture using offcuts from Ercol and Sitting Firm. Bodging is a hands-on craft that utilises unseasoned wood and traditional Windsor chair making techniques to create unique, one-off designs. The bodgers who participated at the race included Chris Eckersley, Sarah Kay, William Warren, Gareth Neal, Carl Clerkin and the designer of Heal’s Koji collection, Koji Katsuragi.
In April, Neal’s winning chair, along with other bodgers’ designs, travelled to Milan for their first international exhibition at Designersblock during Salone del Mobile 2015. This was followed by its preview at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, where it was on display in landscape and garden designer Jo Thompson’s Garden Retreat.
Gareth Neal comments, ‘It was a wonderful experience spending a week making furniture in the window of one of the UK’s most important interior retailers, with the opportunity of the piece going into production.
‘The Great Heal’s Bodging Race was a wonderful way of designing and making furniture, by putting yourself in a competitive situation, with limitations of time and the techniques available; ideas can thrive, resulting in variations on a timeless aesthetic where design and simplicity work harmoniously together.’
Neal’s oak and leather chair, exclusive to Heal’s, is to be launched in Heal’s Tottenham Court Road store and online in September 2015, during London Design Festival. For more information, please visit www.heals.co.uk.
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