Bespoke furniture maker and STEAMhouse member, Pierre Greenway, is taking furniture developed at STEAMhouse to the London Design Fair, 19th-22nd September. We caught up with Pierre to find out more about his project, his feelings on the festival and his vision for the future.
Hi Pierre, thanks for taking the time out of your project to speak with us today. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you are working on?
I’ve always been a model-maker. I went to art college where I specialised in 3D design and from that, I worked on props and special effects in the film industry. I then progressed onto the architecture side of model-making which refined my design ethos and aesthetic. It’s from here where I learned about furniture, as well as clean and considered design, and as I’ve always had a love for wood, I decided to try and make some furniture. After several mishaps and a lot of sketch models/prototypes, I now have what I feel is a clean, considered and functional collection of furniture comprised of an extendable table, chairs and a couple of stools. This collection was made with one purpose: for a young family home…mine in particular, as my fiancé is pregnant and we’ve recently moved in to our first home.
The collection all started with the chair which was only an idea before I started at STEAMhouse. STEAMhouse is where this idea became a design, and eventually a product. The rest of the collection just had to follow suit.
So, what is it you are looking to achieve?
I just want to make things that are useful and functional for people. I want my work to be local; a wood workshop close to the city where I can run furniture workshops, share ideas, and build a community.
Birmingham is an industrial city with huge industrial heritage and I want to contribute by helping refine skills in the creative community, to potential makers of the future.
“There’s a lot of cool people here and Birmingham is the only place I’ve been where there’s a real depth of community – it’s so cool to be a part of it.”
How did the opportunity to exhibit at London Design Fair come about?
I’ve always known about London Design Fair (LDF). London, Paris, Milan – I always thought these were unattainable until I was presented with the opportunity to.
I was talking with a friend who said they liked my chair and I should apply for LDF as they had some early bird tickets.
It was a pretty hard gig, as you have to be accepted into it, and all I had was the chair at the time of application. However, they loved the design and under the premise that the rest of my furniture would be the same level as the chair, I was accepted. Yew!
London Design Fair takes place on the 19th– 22nd September and is at the Old Truman Brewery in East London. There’ll be a lot of great designers and products and I’ll be in Hall 10 at Stand 10.75.
Can you tell us how STEAMhouse came into your thinking?
After moving to Birmingham and working for Glenn Howells Architects I got to know who’s who and what’s what in the city. I was also introduced to some people up at Birmingham City University, Alessandro Columbano, and it was he who told me about STEAMhouse. As soon as I found out about it I jumped at the chance and went to the first pilot STEAMlab, which was great and a great success! I guess I wouldn’t have the chair designed and prototyped without it!
The help I have received at STEAMhouse from the technicians has been really useful. They are all very skilled and knowledgeable in their industries – Jan and Chris, for example, have shown me ways of producing which I never knew about. It’s great to be able to come in for chats, get and share advice, and attend workshops.
What’s next in your STEAMhouse project journey?
After LDF and having the baby, which I’ll obviously be taking time out for, I’m hoping to comeback for STEAMhouse 1.5. I’ll still be doing the furniture but rather than hand-making everything bespoke, I’ll be tapping into digital. I’d like to try using CNC pipe-bending (which Chris told me about), and other digital manufacturing processes, so I can turn my outputs from tens into hundreds. I’m looking forward to learning more about it, and hoping after the fair I’ll be producing units in their hundreds!
What words of advice would you give to other innovators out there?
Get into STEAMhouse as soon as you can. Once you have an idea, refine it while you’re there, as it’s a brilliant place to make the idea you have on paper into a real thing you can see and touch. It’s a great prototyping journey.
Thanks, Pierre, we look forward to seeing what unfolds for you and your work.
Feeling inspired to work with wood? Check out our upcoming short course in October and learn new skills in basic woodworking. Find out more and book your place here.
Discover how STEAMhouse can help turn your concepts into creations by applying for your free membership here. There is also the chance to take in STEAMhouse’s amazing facilities, meet the team and find out how they can help you by booking on to the next free tour.