by Helen McCarthy
“To have one style is to walk a lonely path”.
An interview with Tom Eddolls of Fine English Furniture and Design
If we’re being simplistic about it, furniture design is all about shapes. It’s about curves, corners and the straightest of straight lines. Gloucestershire-based furniture designer Tom Eddolls gets his shape inspiration from a surprising place; not the layout of a living room, but the natural curves we see around us, or sometimes even ignore. It might sound odd to start a design for a table or chest of drawers with the scales of a fish or rippling water, but that’s just a normal working day for Tom.
Inspiration, design, and craftsmanship
Working with some of the best names in the field has allowed Tom to develop a style that’s “unordinary”, in his own words. “I can bring my own artistic license and ideas into exciting projects, working closely with my clients”, said Tom, alluding to the three-step furniture design process outlined on his website.
Initially he tries to understand what the client needs, but he doesn’t let utility ruin the fun for anyone either – “they want something special,” he acknowledges. He doesn’t mind a strict brief either though, “because the outline is already solved and the work is in finding the right shapes and forms”.
The design always begins with sketch work. Some projects take hours of initial drawings and ideas, allowing Tom to “literally design while I make”, and some clients come to him with a very specific bespoke commission. Drawings make way for “templates and full-scale drawings and on to the finished article”.
Form and function
‘Big ticket’ furniture items are often seen as investments, we want them to last as long as possible and (hopefully) not date as we update our living spaces. Quality materials never go out of style though, so when Tom is crafting he always uses FSC Certified timer, including oak, ash, maple, cherry, cedar, walnut, sycamore and pear. He usually combines different materials, showing off the natural tonal changes you can see in quality wood.
A quick browse of the items showcased on the Fine English Furniture website demonstrate his versatility. Consistently working with varied shapes and textures, his table legs smoothly curve and drawers and lids fit snugly in a way flat pack furniture never does.
Tom has never been particularly drawn to a specific style of furniture; he covets both contemporary and antique pieces as long as they show “quality of craftsmanship and that wonderful harmony of form and function. To have one style is to walk a lonely path”.
Beauty with no restrictions
After completing his training in Royal Leamington Spa, Tom went to work with some of the UK’s most notable furniture designers, including Robin Furlong and Waywood Furniture. These partnerships lay the groundwork of his technical knowledge and developed it, but his commission work demonstrates that he works best when he’s not confined. “I don’t want to be restricted to a style or gimmick”, he said, “there is beauty in so many forms.
And which piece of furniture does he think everyone should invest in? Pleasingly, he won’t specify just one, simply “the piece of their choice.”
Tom Eddolls Fine English Craftsmanship and Design create custom furniture, involving clients throughout the process.
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