Deadgood is our Supplier Of The Week, 8-14 February 2016; offering bold, fresh and cutting edge pieces, ease of customisation and exciting collaborations with great names in design.
Deadgood are a small, but leading British design brand, based in both London and Newcastle, and, for the last 12 years, have been making their mark on the interiors and design world. Their focus is primarily interior designers and commercial environments, with products found in high specification offices, cafes, bars and hotels within the contract market alongside some private residences.
With ‘The Deadgood Residency’ in Clerkenwell 9th-19th February (further details below) we talked to the two behind it all, Dan Ziglam and Elliot Brook, to find out more:
Can you start us off with how Deadgood came about?
Dan Ziglam, Founder & co-CEO: Deadgood was started over ten years ago by myself and Elliot Brook. We were furniture designers studying at Northumbria University in Newcastle, and, as there weren’t many jobs available at the time of graduating, with a bit of naivety and a lot of bravado, we started the business from one of the bedrooms of a flat we were renting in Newcastle using just one product from our Form Collection for the launch.
Elliot Brook, Founder & co-CEO: I’ve always been motivated to run my own business from an early age, having been ‘shown the light’ by my grandfather, a successful builder and hotelier.
Personally, I never really had a burning desire to pursue a career in design, I wish I could say otherwise, it was more just the motivation to do my own thing and I guess furniture became a vehicle to allow that to happen.
Armed with nothing more than a vision and an endless supply of determination we have captured the design industry’s imagination and cemented our reputation as one of the leading British design brands.
You’re based in both Newcastle and London. I’m sure each have their highlights and benefits, but do you have a clear winner between the two?
EB: We run two studios, one in Newcastle and one in London. Dan made the move to London in 2010 to set it up. I’m still in the North East and both studios are now thriving. We’re also testing the water in Bristol and have plans to set up a third office there over the next twelve months.
In Newcastle the studio space is always full of products. We share it with British designer David Irwin, whose broad spectrum of design work ensures that there’s a steady stream of material samples and delightfully engineered components to be mused upon.
Dan and the team put the London studio through its paces. It’s where the in-house product development happens, amongst many other things. There are lots of prototypes within reaching distance and inspiration adorning the walls. There’s no clear winner…
DZ: We’re a very eclectic bunch and we all have different sources of inspiration. Having split offices in London and Newcastle has helped, as we now have two cities to reference from our daily interactions.
Deadgood has worked with some exciting names in the design world, such as David Irwin, Lee Broom and Max Lamb, as well as your exceptional in house design team. Why is it important to you to have external as well as internal influences?
DZ: We’re always planning further collaborations and they are key to our ethos. It’s usually organic as to how they develop. It’s a two way thing, where people are as enthusiastic to work with us as we are with them.
I think collaborations are good for personal development. Many designers can be egotistical and think they can do it all themselves, whereas I think it’s a positive thing to work with other disciplines and genres, such as a furniture designer could also work on fabrics and textiles and so building new skills and creating connections with different disciplines are essential in my opinion.
You have a consistent flow of bold colours and a strong style across the brand. Is colour something that is important to your design style, and why?
DZ: The Form Collection was an extension of my final year University project, where I worked with the company Formica, also based in Newcastle, to find a way of bending their compact laminate. We created a range of products using this material with clean lines in a huge array of colours, over two hundred in total, many of them in bright pinks, yellows and blues, which we promoted in quite a different way to the norm. It was our first bold use of colour within a Collection and I suppose the start of our style developing, coupled with our alternative method of promoting ourselves it led to us coining the phrase ‘Products with Personality’.
For our first ever business plan, we drew two overlapping circles, with the heading ‘Commercial’ on one side, and ‘Artistic/Creative’ on the other. We wanted to place ourselves right in the sweet spot in the middle. ‘Commercial’ is defined by durability, function and competitively priced, but we didn’t want to create bland products that are, or were then, associated with the commercial contract market.
Instead of just focusing on ‘colour’ as a means of expression, we aim to create products with a little bit of a twist, akin to a Paul Smith suit, which is very classic looking on the outside, but the inside lining can be a bit ‘out there’. Like Paul Smith we wanted our products to have a bit of a twist, showing our personality.
Deadgood started off life selling via retailers, but now you have a very contract and interior designer focussed brand. What changed?
EB: When we first started out, we were testing out all sorts of markets, trying to do it all, including selling via retailers. When the recession came in mid 2008, retail was hit really hard and we naturally felt it was right to move more to the commercial side.
In recent years we found the commercial environment, especially in the professional services sector, such as law and accountancy firms, changed to become more domestic in style and as that was our style, we were in the right place at the right time to capitalise on this.
One of the well known values of Deadgood is that you manufacture all of your furniture in the UK. As you work closely with interior designers and the contract market this surely makes things easier if customisations are required?
DZ: As we work with British manufacturers, we’re set up so that it’s easy for us to customise products, which allows us to better service architects and interior designers who want the ability to customise designs, such as changing colours for a specific project. It also makes our design process so much more integrated, as our designers can easily visit the factory to talk through specifications, timescales and budgets, for instance.
When we started Deadgood, we had to work with British manufacturers out of necessity, rather than any values-driven ethos, as the volume of our orders would have been too small for big overseas factories to manufacture for us in any case. As we started working with British factories, we realised there were thousands of fantastic British manufacturers out there, from furniture to satellite producers, all making great products. It was only then did it become our philosophy to work with British manufacturers and supporting the manufacturing industry that made this country great.
It’s encouraging that with many tender projects now, there’s an emphasis on environmental considerations and criteria to source locally. As we grow, we will be sticking to our dedication to collaborating with British manufacturers.
Finally, we currently have The Deadgood Residency in Clerkenwell this February. What is the idea behind this temporary showroom and what can we expect to see?
EB: ‘The Deadgood Residency’ will run from 9th-19th February, 33-35 St. John’s Square, Clerkenwell.
On show will be our new modular table system – The Tree Table by John Tree, the recently launched Working Girl Lounge Chairs and Bistro Tables by David Irwin and new additions to our Turn Table range.
Alongside this we’ll be showcasing a carefully curated collection of our furniture, lighting and interior ‘Products with Personality’. Designed and made in Britain for commercial environments worldwide. Aside from being an opportunity to showcase our latest products to our commercial client base, it’s also an environment in which we hope to be able to communicate our core brand values.
In case you need a reminder, Deadgood’s core brand values are:
1. We believe our products should be made locally by expert craftsmen who agree that good design can change the world for the better.
2. We care for our environment and hope to leave a positive legacy for future generations.
3. Our team is a like minded family who share our ideals of supporting, nurturing and inspiring each other.
4. We believe in inclusion – creatively and collaboratively, to be inclusive is to accept change and to embrace evolution.
5. Our ambition is to remain at the crest of the wave, challenging the status quo and experimenting with new ideas.
After all we like being Deadgood and hope you will too.
You can register to visit The Deadgood Residency, or RSVP to their “Beats&Beers” evening, 6pm Thursday 18th Feb, here.