With the winning Heal’s Discovers designers announced, and their products selected, the Heal’s product team can crack on with process of developing and sampling.
Each of this year’s designs are created using a different manufacturing process, so it was essential for the Heal’s team to choose the right supplier for each product. It was important to us to source local suppliers where possible, those with the skills and attention to detail required to deliver the goods for our Heal’s Discovers designers.
We looked for specialists who employed skilled craftsmen, and who manufactured in small batches. Once we’d located the suppliers we believed to be the best fit, the individual designers and myself visited their chosen supplier to ensure that there was a strong mutual understanding of how the final product would look. Each design had its own challenges. Here are some behind-the-scenes photos of the development processes.
The challenge with Ester Comunello’s Turn collection was sourcing a manufacturer who could accurately make the components inspired by the ‘threading’ found on nuts and bolts. Working closely with our supplier in Norwich, Ester tweaked the original design of this threading to give it a smoother movement.
The Maya Concrete Side table was originally designed by Tom Parfitt to be crafted from marble. We wanted to optimise the material usage, and felt the wastage of this premium material would be too great. The solution? Cast concrete. It’s durable, tactile and available in many finishes.
Our Cheltenham-based manufacturer had to hand-build a four-part mould in order to achieve the complex table base. During our factory visit we chose the colours we wanted to use, and learnt more about the Eco Concrete that the tables are made from. Composed from more than 90% recycled materials, it’s a very different proposal to the original marble concept, but every bit as striking.
The Step Stool by Phil Luscombe and Josh South was prototyped in Kent. We experimented with several different finishes before settling on the beautiful, contrasting solid natural oak and fumed oak option. The fumed oak finish really accentuates the grain of the timber, while also highlighting the dowel ‘crown’ that can be seen on the top and footrest. Phil and Josh had done a lot of prototyping in the Northumbria University workshop, so after a few Skype calls the design was finalised quite quickly.
One of the most intensive development sessions was with Sam Lloyd’s Sand Cast stools, at a foundry in South East London. The design, with its sand-cast aluminium top and footrest is truly process-led. To reach the final product, we worked on a boxless system, which speeds up the process of mould-making for batch production. Having worked closely with the foundry and the mould-makers, it was exciting to see the aluminium being poured and then, after cooling, seeing each piece of metalwork hand finished or ‘Fettled’ to reveal the final shape.
We also experimented with the legs, to get the optimum stability, height and comfort, tweaking each element until the best combination was found.
With the designs finalized, and the designers happy, the next stop (which you’ll see soon) was the Heal’s photography studio….