Tom Raffield is our Supplier of the Week; 5 – 11 December.
Based deep in the Cornish woodland is a workshop full of energy and plenty of steam-bent wood. The team of skilled craftsmen and women work with sustainably sourced wood to create products with a beautiful character that have a minimal impact on the environment.
We spoke to Tom and the team to find out more.
What’s the story behind Tom Raffield?
Here at Tom Raffield we design and make a range of contemporary steam-bent wooden furniture and lighting that represents our beliefs on sustainability, promotes good design and champions the materials we love. My wife Danni and I founded the studio in 2008 stimulated by an inherent freedom to be adventurous with design and inspired by Cornwall’s natural resources and beauty.
How are your products made?
Each Tom Raffield product is handmade by our team of skilled set of craftsmen, right here in our woodland workshop in Cornwall, and individually finished with the care and attention of a fine piece of art. We use a pioneering form of steam bending to create unique and bold contemporary pieces that will be treasured for years to come.
Where did the love of steam bending start?
My fascination with the traditional practice of steam bending began while studying at Falmouth College of Arts where I discovered the traditional technique of using a chamber wouldn’t allow me to create the complex 3D bends I envisaged. After a while I developed my own techniques for bending wood which finally brought many of my ideas to life.
How does sustainability feature in your designs & production?
We believe that sustainability is a by-product of good design. A comprehensive knowledge of our production processes is key: we use timber from sustainably managed woodlands (local wherever possible); the wood is unseasoned or air-dried (avoiding the energy-intensive kiln drying process); and steam bending is our main form of production, a low-energy method of manufacturing with little wastage and no use of toxic chemicals, just water.
Where have your designs been used recently?
We have a great relationship with Cornish clothing company Seasalt – our furniture features in each of their new high street stores across the UK. However our biggest and most ambitious project to date is our steam-bent wooden home which appeared on Channel 4’s Grand Designs in October 2016. Designing objects for other people to put in their home is an incredible privilege – we’d never design anything that we wouldn’t have in our own home – but we’d never had a chance to design our own space. After two years of hard work and creative exploration we built a dream home designed using an innovative and architectural take on our steam-bent furniture and lighting.
What’s next from Tom Raffield?
Our furniture launch with John Lewis in early 2017 is a big and exciting focus for us at the moment. We also have plans for London Craft Week in May that will involve a steam-bent wooden structure set up in Pimlico for a rotating coast of interior designers to decorate.
To open a trade account with Tom Raffield and start ordering from them directly, click through to their catalogue below, and then ‘request a connection’: