Featured in SINGUART’s upcoming sale, Where Art Meets Design, is London based fine furniture maker Christian Watson. Highly invested in the integrity of British craftsmanship, Watson’s designs are created to be adaptable to any environment, with their simple, design forward aesthetic, rendering them modern day heirlooms.
We talked to Christian to learn more about his background as a craftsman and his interior design influences.
Would you please introduce yourself and briefly talk about your background as a designer?
I studied furniture making under the world-renowned designer-maker, Marc Fish at Robinson House Studio in Sussex. Here, I was taught that the relentless pursuit of perfection must be applied to the entire furniture-making process, from sourcing the highest-quality materials, to working with highly-skilled craftsmen. It is this holistic approach to design that defines the studio today.
How would you describe your style and how long did it take you to develop a unique style?
I like to think of my style as Contemporary minimal. My work is grounded in an appreciation of traditional forms and manufacturing techniques, yet my approach to creating is experimental and playful. I try to explore this tension through a pared-back palette of materials.
However, my traditional background puts my roots in timber and veneer. Wood has a unique warmth and texture that is hard to replicate, but I love materiality, the different colors, textures, weights, the combinations and uses for them. I spend a lot of my time researching, experimenting and generally playing with new materials, it’s a great passion of mine.
I also think that metal is undervalued both technically and aesthetically – when used well it can stand beautifully on its own, or it can be used as a building block for other materials, allowing me to draw attention to a particular element and let that be the centrepiece of the design. It’s strength means that it can be minimal, it can have thin strong curves and straight lines, but it can also be dynamic and powerful while doing it. Strong, yet graceful.
What is your favorite aspect of the creative process?
I love being hands-on and will never stop making. I share this passion with the people I work with, all of whom are incredibly talented craftsmen, artists and artisans in their own right. Our position in London allows us access to a network of makers who rival the world’s best.
I wanted to study furniture making because I didn’t think it was possible to truly create a great piece of furniture if I didn’t know how to make it. Making is an ever-evolving artform and the skills take a long time to develop, I think it’s necessary for me to continue to play and make things, whatever they are.
Finding the best craftsmen and women has been absolutely critical for me and my clients. It means that we can provide the highest degree of quality, with the best materials, on time, for every project.
Which design movements and styles do you incorporate into your own designs?
My first love was Art Nouveau architecture – seeing Hector Guimard’s Metro Station entrances in Paris in real life for the first time was very special to me – but you might not expect this looking at my recent work. As I learned more about different materials and what it was like to make with these and the opportunities they created I began to appreciate modernist design. It’s funny because, with Bauhaus for example, it almost could not be more different from Art Nouveau: on the one hand it looks as though there’s less adornment, less detail, and you may think that means there’s less design work that’s gone into it – actually you create constraints when working in this style and with these materials, and those constraints make the design aspect all the more important.
I realized that there can be a lot of beautiful, intricate detail in a design that is well made simply with high quality materials and a good initial concept. I am a design history “obsessive” though so I expect to continue to develop my style.
But sometimes my inspiration comes as a spark, from a material, color, or a form that I have seen. Usually they sit in my mind, percolating for a while until It comes together. Sometimes an idea for a piece IS the inspiration, and it evolves into something else entirely. I get very carried away with the thoughts though; once I have set myself onto something creative it dominates the design side of my brain, it’s all I can think about until it is made, drawn or at least modelled.
How do you envisage the future of your brand and designs?
We have big ambitions for the future, with another signature collection focusing more on lighting and some smaller, fully sustainable items. We will also be bringing out ‘limited edition’ pieces which is a brilliant way for us to showcase our broad material offerings that can be paired with our signature pieces.
Thank you Christian Watson for taking the time to talk to us!