AW20 | Interview with Tim Rundle

Tim Rundle is the designer behind our new and exclusive Marlow Four-Poster Bed. For over two centuries, the four-poster bed has been a symbol of Heal’s. Now, the London-based designer has cleverly reimagined it for modern homes.

We sat down with Tim Rundle to discover more about the Marlow Bed, his process and what inspired it.

How did the collaboration with Heal’s for the new AW20 collection come about?

We’d had a couple of discussions about working together previously. But, for one reason or another, we hadn’t struck the perfect project to collaborate on. When this one came along however, I jumped at the opportunity. A four-poster bed isn’t something I’d be likely to get the chance to work on with my other. Plus, the link with the Heal’s history made it a great brief.

Tim Rundle portrait | Image courtesy of Tim Rundle

What was your inspiration for the Marlow bed?

It always starts with a search for simplicity. I wanted to create something formally reduced so that it was instantly recognisable as a representation of its typology. A simple, almost architectural frame; with a nod to Heal’s reputation for craft showing through the details and finishing.

How did it feel to design a piece of furniture that is so intrinsically linked to the brand’s heritage?

The word ‘icon’ gets thrown around lots in design these days, often before a product is even on the market. However, a product can’t be an icon until it has gained meaning for people who identify with it. Given that the four-poster bed was the Heal’s logo, and that the Tottenham Court Road sign bearing it was a meeting place for Londoners of a certain era (not to mention the commemorative Royal Mail stamp) it really was like designing something that already had an element of the iconic. This was more than a little daunting, especially given that it would be Heal’s first four-poster for many years. It had to be just right.

Marlow Bed by Tim Rundle

What is it about the Marlow Bed that makes it such a special piece?

While overall it’s a relatively minimal piece, the way the junctions blend into each other in an organic way really elevates it. The joinery highlights the combination of machine and hand craft that goes into producing the frame. We are launching it in walnut, a beautiful timber that brings warmth and understated quality to any space.

What was the design process behind the Marlow Bed?

It started in a fairly typical way. I began researching the history of the typology – in medieval times four-poster beds allowed for curtains to be drawn around it. This lent extra warmth in draughty castles as well as privacy from your chamber staff.

I then thought about the contemporary context. Not many of us live in vast castles these days, so I didn’t want it to be imposing. Using circular profile uprights meant we were able to achieve a visual lightness in the frame while maintaining necessary strength. After spending a bit of time sketching, we went straight into technical drawings. Normally I would produce prototypes in the studio, but with a product of this scale, that wasn’t possible. So, we started prototyping with the factory in Portugal from a relatively early stage in the process. We managed one trip to the factory to make some minor refinements before the world shut down. Luckily the next revision was perfect.

Marlow Bed by Tim Rundle with rust bedding

Why do you feel that your design ethos is a good fit with Heal’s?

Heal’s has always struck a balance between quality and accessibility. I’m not so interested in creating products that hold such little value that they feel disposable after one season. I also feel most comfortable working within commercial constraints, creating products that are relatively accessible to a wider group of consumers.

What would you say are the key trends for AW20?

I think the obvious one will be people being more aware of the spaces they live in, after spending so much more time in them. I think that this will mean people will make more considered purchases, and invest in pieces that really improve the experience of being in the spaces they live their lives in.

Like what you see? Shop the Marlow Four-Poster Bed here.