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Spotlight on the maker: Christian Watson

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Image credit: Christian Watson

From his workshop in London, Christian Watson designs and makes fine contemporary furniture. From chairs to mirrors each of his refined and striking pieces demonstrate an uncompromising commitment to British craftsmanship of the highest quality, and we are delighted to collaborate with Christian on an exclusive colour way for some of his pieces bespoke to AUTHOR.

Christian took some time out to give us a little insight into his creative process, and why he is doing what he is doing today.

Christian’s pieces will be on sale through the Author website, starting in January 2023. You can see more of Christian’s work on his Meet the Maker page.

Where did your passion for making your items come from?

I was very lucky that during school I was exposed to some fantastic teachers/mentors as well as classes such as graphic design, ceramics and woodworking. I grew up in a house full of antiques that had lasted for generations – being shown this great craftsmanship an attention to detail from an early age really inspired me to create works of my own.

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Timperly Dining Chair

Were you always interested in creating things from childhood?

I’ve always been very tactile and visually-oriented and I enjoy the social aspect of creativity. In school my favourite classes were those where I got to experiment and collaborate – this extends into my adult life too, I love to cook for instance (I will let my friends and family decide how good I am!) because I like the opportunity to play with flavours and assemble combinations, but also critically to make something that others can enjoy.

My journey to becoming a designer stems from this same impulse; I knew I wanted to be able to make and enjoy the materiality of furniture, hence my formal training is in cabinet making, whereas in design I’m largely self-taught.

How did your business start? What led you into it?

It started with fine cabinet-making training first in Devon, then outside Brighton after I spent a few years in the US finishing high school. I knew that I needed to learn how to make the furniture that I wanted to end up designing and creating. By learning how to make something you begin to understand why something is designed the way that it is and what limitations the material or design has; and this forces you to be creative and to design creatively.

I was lucky to work with some of literally the best cabinet makers in the world at Robinson House Studio who had perfected very traditional techniques and were applying these now to contemporary furniture – I learnt a huge amount here both about making but also about attention to detail, quality, and patience.

Straight after this I set up a studio with my friend Ben in a disused barn of an old farm in Surrey. We made workshops for ourselves to create our own work, but we also rented out space to other aspiring young creatives; I have very fond memories of this period, we made a lot of friends in the industry and were exposed to many different creative approaches: from 3-D printing to Guild Mark level traditional cabinetmaking.

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Thoralby Mirror

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your pieces?

I am definitely still on a creative journey but my style has clearly developed over time; 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 realised 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 think that as my business grows and work expands into more areas I expect to continue to develop my style.

But sometimes my inspiration comes as a spark, from a material, colour, 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.

What is your favourite part of the making process?

I’ve always enjoyed collaborating with my clients – bringing together their vision and finally being able to deliver that process and journey. Whether it is just a tailored project and sourcing a new mirror, fabric or colour choice or a large scale bespoke project – the collaboration between the designer, maker and client is a really rewarding experience.

Where do you source the materials to make your pieces?

We do our best to source the finest materials possible from responsible companies. I care deeply about local business, so we do our best to use companies that are in our local area.

What do you love about working in the UK and any thoughts on British design?

I believe passionately that UK manufacturing has so much to offer. Everything that we make is designed and made in London, and we try to source all of our materials from within London, or as close as possible. We use highly skilled artisan makers across the city who are brilliant at what they do – there is a huge amount of talent here that we are not using and I am always on the lookout for new makers, new processes to use in my work or future bespoke projects.

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Severus Lounger

Do you have any particular design heroes or other makers your work has been influenced by?

I don’t think there is any one particular person that I have been influenced by – I think that my designs, my processes and vision from the company has been influenced by so many great people that I have met along the way.

Any upcoming projects/ pieces you’re working on that you’d like to tell us about?

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.

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Eversfield Shelving

Anything else you’d like us to mention?

I am really happy about our tailored service, allowing our clients to change, material, frame colour a fabric to make the piece entirely unique to them whilst maintaining the integrity of the original design.

Part of our sustainability pledge is “to keep furniture in the home” so I’m also proud of our repair and replace service. We provide all our customers with care instructions for their furniture. However, if anything should happen we offer an excellent repair service. If you are a London-based customer, we aim to repair your item on site. However, if we are unable to fix the damage ourselves, or you are based outside of London, we can arrange for a restorer to examine the damage and/or arrange for the item to be returned to the studio for repair. We also have an end of life scheme as well as alteration services.

About the Author

jane

Written by Jane Adams, founder of Author Interiors. LinkedIn:

Read more about her here.

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