An Interview With ... Andrew Baird - Our Furniture Designer

An Interview With ... Andrew Baird - Our Furniture Designer

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a furniture designer? Well, all of our furniture collections are designed in our very own studio by our talented designer Andrew, so we thought we’d ask him!

Andrew has over 10 years’ experience in the industry and a fascinating career. From starting out by learning the skill of technical drawings, to designing furniture for luxury yachts in Malta, and now designing beautiful furniture here at Funky Chunky Furniture.

We got a chance to sit down with Andrew as he took a break from designing our latest collection to discuss all things from how he got into furniture design, to what inspires him, and why he loves what he does. 

 

Andrew, why do you think you got into design?

My interest in design began at a young age when I learned to produce technical drawings the old school way using a drawing board and set squares. My father is an architect, who had a huge drawing board at our home, and his drawings fascinated me. My older brothers also followed similar paths in architecture and engineering, and I feel my upbringing set me up to pursue a career in design.

How did you start your career in furniture design?

At university I studied Product Design and not long after graduating, I got a brilliant opportunity to work abroad in Malta working for an architecture, design, and fabrication studio. I worked on many interesting projects during my time here, such as an understudy for the design of the reception furniture of Vodafone’s headquarters in Malta.

I then got an opportunity to work with a company in the marine industry, which included exciting projects such as a full renovation of a 100ft yacht that had a timber structure, and was originally built in the 1960s. My role was designing luxury bespoke furniture for the cabins, saloon area, the wheelhouse, and on the top deck. Interesting design features included decorative marquetry depicting animals, as well as a lot of hidden and secret storage solutions, to name a few.

 

 

Why did you decide to work at Funky Chunky Furniture?

The challenge is very different. Previously I was creating designs which satisfied a client’s brief and exceeded one person’s expectations. At Funky Chunky Furniture I’m creating designs which fit with the aesthetic of the brand and which, we hope, consumers across the UK are inspired by, and want to have in their homes.

 

What advice would you give someone considering a career in furniture design?

  • Believe in your skill. It's part of the nature of being a designer to feel that your work is always being judged, so believing in your own ability and decision making is important.
  • Gain work experience within the industry. Always continue to learn after education. Reading and keeping up to date with trends and techniques stands you in good stead. But mainly learning from other people first hand such as other designers, and furniture makers.
  • Take pride in your work. As a designer, you will likely find that you are your biggest critic, you are constantly looking to what you could do better. Be the best version of yourself and reflect this in your work.
  • Stick at it. Furniture design can be a very hard industry to break into, often there are setbacks. Speaking from experience, it can be easy to give up and look at other career paths where there are more opportunities. The opportunities will come along, and it is well worth it when they do.
 

Where would you say you get most of your inspiration from?

I find inspiration from so many different places. My house is full of design books and magazines, which helps to keep up with trends and new ideas.

I also have a keen interest in architecture. I enjoy seeing all the different styles throughout time is fascinating, and the theories behind the designs has been an influence on previous work.

Everyday life is a constant source of inspiration. I see design in everyday products that we use, such as the reason why a product is a shape it is, for example. Looking at existing products and thinking, how could this be made better.

I also gather a lot of my inspiration from the people I work with here at Funky Chunky Furniture, from the marketing department who always have innovative ideas, to the joiners in the workshop learning them and pushing the boundaries to what is possible.

 
 
Image Credit: Element5 Digital - Pixels
 

How would you describe your personal interior style?

I don’t have a particular favourite style as such, quite often you can combine styles such as traditional and contemporary modern. This is what I am trying to achieve currently as I renovate a Victorian house, by keeping some original features and adding some modern details.

If I was to choose a collection from Funky Chunky Furniture, it would be the Salters Oak Collection, which is again a mix of mid-century and modern Scandinavian styles.

 
 

Do you have a particular process that you follow when designing something new?

The design process is very simple, and I carry the same process through everything I design.
  • Before starting any concept designs, the research phase must take place. This includes research on existing products, pros and cons, cost, delivery, materials, manufacturing, just to name a few.
  • The next step is the design specification, which are the rules and guidelines for the design of the product. A typical example of a point on the design specification would be, the product must do a certain function or be a specific size.
  • Once the design specification is in place, you would then move on to the concept design ideas. This includes sketches and notes, and you would want to generate several ideas per the product you are designing.
  • The next phase is the design development. You would analyse your concept designs and then develop these towards the final product. At this stage, I tend to work closely with the furniture makers and delivery team. This also includes making prototypes and testing.
  • You would then move on to the final design then the manufacturing stage for product launch.
 

Who would you say are your favourite furniture designers, and why?

My favourite designer has always been Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Although he was mainly an architect, he designed some iconic pieces of furniture such as the ladder back chair. His style is very different to what we do at Funky Chunky Furniture, however, I do appreciate how he used straight lines and right angles, yet included subtle details such as ‘floral patterns’ within his designs. I feel that his designs were very much ahead of their time, and kick-started the Art Nouveau movement.

 
Image Credit : James Craig Annan via Wikimedia Commons
Image Credit: Glasgow School of Art

Are there any trends coming through for Spring Summer 2022 that you can share with us?

Without giving too much away prior to launching our Spring Summer collections. Neutral colours have been popular, and look set to continue. However, slashes of brighter colours and creating a contrast is also something that will be a popular choice. This has had an influence on one of our new furniture ranges for Spring 2022.

I feel lucky that I work with a marketing team who’s so on the ball with the interiors trends that are coming to market. They spend time researching and forecasting the upcoming trends. Their predictions set the creative direction for the brand’s future collections, both as part of the new product development, and the accessories we buy and collaborate on.

 
Image Credit: Tea Oebel - Pexels

What part of designing excites you the most?

It’s the point when I look back and reflect on the whole design process, which typically happens on two occasions. The first is when the prototype is made for photoshoots, and seeing the furniture styled and dressed up.

The second is when you see people have bought and are enjoying your furniture.

Knowing that a piece of furniture, that began as an idea in my head and a scribble in a sketchbook, is then going to be part of someone’s home is something that I take a lot of pride from.

 

Out of all the current collections you have designed, which one would you say is your favourite and why?

In terms of aesthetics and style, it would be the Salters Oak collection. The inspiration behind this was to take the ‘mid-century’ style which in a way is timeless judging by how popular it is today, but to make it seem new and modern. This was done with small details, such as the table top profile and the curves.

However, my favourite item in terms of design is the Ouseburn Coffee table with the storage for books. This was actually the first product that I designed with Funky Chunky Furniture.

If you weren’t designing for Funky Chunky Furniture, what would you be doing?

That is a difficult question. I would like to think I would still be a furniture designer, as it does give you a great sense of satisfaction knowing that your creations are part of people’s lives, and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do this for many people, with Funky Chunky Furniture.

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