Crafts Magazine Guide to COLLECT 2015 - page 26

‘For me, chairs are really nice vehicles for experi-
menting,’ Tord Boontje tells me as we hunker down
in a corner of his Shoreditch studio-cum-shop. And
to prove the point we’re surrounded by a cluster
of designs many of which will be showing in an
installation at this year’s COLLECT.
They run a gamut of styles and materials from
a very sharp, masculine-looking cantilever chair
made from mild steel to the
Crow Chair
, notable for
its embroidered upholstery. ‘A chair is a good piece
with which to communicate,’ he continues. ‘Chairs
and lights are nice things because we all have them in
our lives. I don’t know if you’ve ever counted the
number of chairs that you use or own? It’s much,
muchmore than one.’
In some respects COLLECT is an intriguing
place for him to exhibit. It’s a show some industrial
designers, imbued with the ethos of modernism,
have occasionally failed to appreciate. Chris Eckersley,
for instance, has confessed that visiting gave him the
inspiration to create an antidote in
Real Craft
, the
exhibition he curated last year at New Brewery Arts
in Cirencester. Boontje though has no such foibles.
‘I feel very comfortable moving between machine-
made things and handmade things,’ he reasons.
‘Hand-making can add so much value to products.
If you go on the high street or a car showroom or
step into a train interior, materialistically it’s a very
poor world we live in. It lacks the sensorial qualities
that craft offers.’
Boontje, of course, is a designer who appears to
enjoy swimming against the tide. Born in Holland in
1968, he initially studied at Eindhoven, where he
spent time learning craft skills such as weaving,
knitting and printing and graduated with a collection
of perfume bottles. However, after deciding that
he didn’t want to be a textile designer he went to
London’s Royal College of Art for his MA in the
industrial design department.
He sprang to wider attention at 100% Design in
1997 when he and his partner, the glass artist Emma
Woffenden, launched their
range of table-
ware. The pieces were self-produced in Woffenden’s
workshop using recycled bottles. ‘Six months later
This year’sCOLLECTwill include aneclectic installationof
chairs bydesignerTordBoontje.He talks toGrantGibsonabout technology,
craft andthe impactof fashiononhiswork. PortraitbyAngelaMoore
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