The A-Frame Collection
Jean Prouve is a constant design hero. His systematic approach and constant drive for innovation in process and materials is incredibly inspiring to the work I want to achieve; not just as a designer and artisan, but also as a teacher and engineer.
My parents have influenced me a great deal as well. My mother was an exemplary actress and my father a sculptor, and I spent many of my formative years in his foundry. My company Tendeter is now named after my late mother, in honour of her tireless belief in my goals.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
A-Frame was designed in response to the needs of smaller and less permanent living spaces, comprising table, desk, bench, hanging rail and shelving unit. The design relies on 6-degree angle verticals and precision carved slots to hold each component perfectly together - there are no specialist tools, glue or screws needed for assembly. Each free-standing piece can be quickly re-assembled in new locations, easily adapted for new environments, and compact when stored or transporting.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
A-frame has dummy-proof, tool-free, glue-and-screw-free assembly. Its free-standing nature means that no walls, floors, ceilings or doors are needed either - a must for temporary, pop-up, or rented spaces.
Precision-cut, real-wood components - each piece is designed to slot very simply together to form durable, adaptable, storable furniture, with minimal space needed for assembly, delivery and final positioning. Light and mobile when assembled and when taken apart.
A-Frame is aesthetically simple, meaning it can sit within any space, and being designed and built to last means that even with multiple re-assembly and movement, wears its own visible patina of life with pride.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
Matthew Elton was approached by Heal's to design a collection in January 2014, and prototype to production was about three months. The collection was then sold at Heal's from April 2014, and featured at Tent superbrands the the same year. The collection currently exists as a best-seller at Heal's.
FITS BEST INTO CATEGORY:
Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
I chose a single piece of oak for each A-Frame - a versatile, durable and familiar wood. Its hard-wearing nature is perfect for a design that promotes repeated dismantling or transportation, and for furniture that is specifically designed to be a strong part of everyday living spaces. Made using traditional techniques, the shelves feature precision made slots, which allows them to wedge gently into position to stabilise the piece.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
Length 1700mm Width 647mm Height 715mm
Length 1700mm Width 350mm Height 440mm
Height 1800mm Width 1000mm Depth 445mm
Height 1800mm Width 1000mm Depth 445mm
Furniture, intelligent, simple, collection, assembly, wood, design, a-frame, slot, angle
The design itself didn't come from external research as such, simply the current living-space trends in my own and my friend's lives, so the research side of this project was minimal. I felt the design had to be consistent with my own minimal aesthetic, so this was very clear, but in parallel had to respond directly to the ease-of-use and adaptability brief I'd set myself.
In the city we increasingly live in a social climate of smaller and smaller social space, repeatedly moving space, altering internal space, flexible living space and therefore an increasing necessity for much more intelligent use of these tight spaces. This said I wanted the pieces to feel solid, reliable, and long-lasting, not like miniature versions of furniture one might use a much larger space.
The very nature of my design intentionally relied on very specific angles, slots and connections, meaning there wasn't the usual furniture prototyping methodology with glue or screws to hold each piece together. This meant we had to invent our own way of testing the pieces specifically to each section.
After the art-working and precision sketches, repeated prototyping and angle-testing were the only ways to overcome any possible ergonomic issues, for example balance, stability, strength, weight, the possibility for higher manufacturing numbers, size restraint and repeated assembly. Don't forget that in parallel we were also testing visual strength and aesthetic success - a very difficult balance we found great satisfaction in overcoming.
TEAM MEMBERS (4) :
Matthew Elton - Designer, Head Maker, Graeme Kennedy - Junior Maker, Michael Simpson - Cabinet-maker and
Matthew Booth photography
IP Matthew Elton