Oliver Tilbury's latest designs. He is very much of the small scale or batch production tradition and all his products are available to order, typically with a six to eight week lead time.
This chair originated from questions about function and necessity, simplicity and reason; what is honest and legitimate, impossible and possible, natural and illusionary.
The elements required to achieve a successful chair are minimal when styling is pared away to leave an essential form. Yet at the same time, just as legitimate can be something apparently free of functional necessity if it is realised with honesty to its own form and materials.
The thirty one legs of this chair in solid ash don’t just appear to merge together as if naturally formed - they really do merge and intersect. No illusion. No fakery. Making the legs in solid wood was then crucial to the design - to cast the same shape in a plastic or metal, or indeed to screw a lot of legs onto a chair seat, would be to miss the point.
Achieving this however required a lot of cunning and this chair would not have been possible without the capabilities of complex 3D computer modelling and development. With this approach the geometry that allows the legs to merge and intersect, to lie flat on the ground and to take the impression of the seat, can now be easily replicated in the real world, allowing the chair to emerge, one leg at a time, as if from virtual reality into reality.
This design is about balance – legs and top supporting and bracing one another. Designed before the Burst Chair and Hallstand, it was the first piece with which I really began to see the possibilities of making unusual and perhaps improbable designs achievable through unconventional approaches to making.
As with my other work, this table’s design has be guided by honesty to form and concept, i.e. it is not an illusion that the legs spear the table top – they really do. This is made possible by a cunning joint system within the apex of the legs and allows the table to be completely flat-packed.
This hallstand in felt and English oak was the response to a specific requirement for a hat stand, umbrella pot, place to sit and point of storage to be brought together in one solution. As with my other work, this was made possible by bringing the computer and workshop closer together.
Integrity of shape and execution guided the design process and the result of this can be as seen in the branches of the hat stand formed from individual oak turnings or in the bench that remains like the folded piece of paper it started off as, free of unsightly brackets or supports.
From initial concept development, the design evolved through experimentation with these paper maquettes and manipulation and perfection of 3D computer models. The design was then taken apart and rationalised – making a seemingly complex product very much achievable.