The Latest From Our Blog…

‘Excellence’ exhibition: 3-15 Aug
12th July 2021
The Society of Designer Craftsmen's ‘Excellence’ exhibition The Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1YHExhibition dates: 3rd to 15th August 2021 The forthcoming ‘Excellence’ exhibition in the newly refurbished Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester will showcase the best in contemporary craft from the members of the Society of Designer Craftsmen. 'Cube' versatile box by Edward Johnson Established in 1887, The Society of Designer Craftsmen continues to promote and support the work of creative thinkers, designers and makers who innovate through the exploration of materials and skills in their own creative field. ‘Excellence’ exemplifies the high standards of the Society and is being held in the magnificent buildings of Chichester’s historical Oxmarket Gallery, a deconsecrated medieval church full of light in the heart of the city. "We live in an increasingly tumultuous period of history and rapid change which, whilst presenting challenges, also offers immense opportunity.”Kate Mason, Chair of the Society of Designer Craftsmen The John Rank Gallery will stage the main ‘Excellence’ exhibition along with the Courtyard which will show ‘Excellence Outdoors’ with works suitable for open-air installation. The Wilson Studio will host a programme of crafts skills demonstrations from the Society's Makers and will also be home to an exhibition titled '20.21' showing small works of craft excellence. The Foyer and entrance will be a discovery area for visitors to gain insight into the Society’s aims, its history and membership. Members of the Society have created a new collection of contemporary craft. Combining innovative thought with supreme craftsmanship and over 30 artists have been selected to showcase their highly original and inspiring work including textiles, ceramics, glass, wood, paper, silver and jewellery. Selected makers:Wendy Newhofer, Elizabeth Saunders, Hazel Connors, Lilly Reid, Megan Cook, Kayley Holderness, Sigi Hill, Sharon Kearley, Claudia Luque, Deborah Timperley, Sue Lancaster, Wendy Dolan, Julia Desch, Nancy Goodens, Antonello Figlia, Silke Espinet, Ferri Farahmandi, Cathryn Shilling, Liz Ashurst, Jane White, Aran Illingworth, Toby Winteringham, Alison Tomlin, Samantha English, Jean Littlejohn, Christine Meyer-Eaglestone, Gillian Spires, Christine Johnson, Ruth Holt, Mayumi Kaneko, Simon Jewell, Pat Moloney, Carol Naylor, Batool Showghi, Jennifa Chowdhury, Sarah Waters, Edward Johnson, Adam Aaronson, Anna Bingham. The Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1YHExhibition dates: 3 August to 15 August 2021Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 10.00am to 4.30pmAdmission free. All works in the exhibition will be for sale. <back to blog
Chichester Art Trail 2021
24th June 2021
Chichester Art Trail 2021: Open Studios: We have some fantastic news! We are really pleased to announce that once again we will be participating in the forthcoming Chichester Art Trail 2021. After last year’s trail being cancelled (due to obvious reasons) this year’s trail is all set to go ahead, albeit at a different time of year, this time in July! We will be open over the two weekends of the trail: Saturday 10, Sunday 11 July and Saturday 17, Sunday 18 July 2021 from 10.30am to 5pm daily. Edward Johnson's open studio September 2020 showing a selection of his furniture and Natalie Dowse's paintings. This is an ideal opportunity to visit (or revisit) our workshop and studio. You will be able to see a display of Edward’s furniture, see work in progress, meet some of the team, and of course, Ed will be available to discuss his work, techniques, and design inspiration with you. We would love to see you. All welcome*. Left: Family Tree keepsake box. Centre: Chichester Tables. Right: Luna key cabinet. This year Natalie Dowse, our studio manager, will be showing a selection of her paintings, and will also be here to talk about her work and techniques over the two weekends. Natalie Dowse - Left Crocodile tears 2. Centre: Cut 8. Right: Crocodile tears 3, oil on canvas, 46cm x 46cm. The 2021 Open Studios Art Trail sees 132 local artists exhibiting a wide range of work across 112 venues in and around the city of Chichester, West Sussex. We really hope that people are raring to go and meet the amazing array of artists and designers that Chichester and the surrounding area has to offer. Venue 105, Edward Johnson, Pea Barn, Old Park Farm, Old Park Lane, Bosham, Chichester PO18 8EX Please find directions here. If you have any questions about the event, please give us a call on 01243 696606 or send us an email: or a message through our contact form. * This year, all participants will have Covid safety measures in place at their venues, for both artists and visitors to adhere to. We will be using the NHS and Trace system. Please also note all children need to be accompanied by an adult due to the nature of the workshop. Download a copy of the Art Trail brochure. <back to blog
Edward Johnson in conversation...
22nd June 2021
Edward Johnson in conversation with Mike Edwardson A few weeks’ ago, Ed and Mike Edwardson from Ocean Independence had a good heart to heart. The following is just part of the conversation… Edward Johnson in his workshop working on the Sussex Chairs. Photo: Alan Frost. Mike Edwardson: How has the past year been for you? Edward Johnson: I’m looking out of the window of my design studio in the sailing village of Bosham and feeling a real sense of optimism. We are all hoping for a brighter tomorrow as we inch closer to a summer of all those experiences that have been sorely missed. It has been a cold winter in the workshop – I’ll be pleased to see the back of it! It has also been a decidedly solitary year here, as I suspect it has been for most artisans across the world. I feel so lucky to have a workshop with a view of the West Sussex countryside, where I have lived for more than 20 years, and as life begins to open up again, we can start to plan. We’ve booked our exhibition season, with local and international shows pencilled in the diary. I’m very much looking forward to talking to clients and interested folk about our latest designs and techniques. What would you say are the key skills needed for producing a high-end cabinet? Malcolm Gladwell’s aphorism that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert is a woeful underestimation when it comes to cabinet making. From the moment I picked up my grandad’s chisels at the age of 18, until the day I started to fully understand my medium and my own ability and dexterity, it was closer to 200,000 hours of training and professional practice. There’s a lot more to being a cabinet maker and craftsman than the romantic idea most people have - I say that from the mindset of being a perfectionist and my own worst critic. There have been an awful lot of expletives uttered through that time. It’s not as if you can just press the backspace button. Some mistakes set you back weeks; some you just have to live with. Which projects bring you most pleasure? Of course, there are moments and projects that bring you great joy, and perhaps none more so than working on super high-end creations for yachts and luxury interiors. A standard piece takes a couple of hundred hours to make, while an amazing piece that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up takes a thousand hours. Fortunately, we work at the finer end of the industry and we are increasingly being commissioned to work on some extraordinary projects. These are projects that have allowed me and the team the time to focus our craftsmanship skills and cherish our position as innovators in the industry. Family Tree keepsake box, shown in elm with fumed oak. From the Family Tree boxes that take over 500 hours to finesse, to some extraordinary chairs we recently made, each one taking three months - yes, three months for each chair – we’ve been able to indulge and progress our ability as craftsmen and further explore the boundaries of furniture making. When you get to work at this level, it isn’t just a job, it’s a passion and a craft that we’re grateful to be part of. In a world full of mass-produced objects, it’s nice to be part of a traditional skill that will continue to stand the test of time because there are people out there that are willing to support such craftsmanship with their patronage. Family Tree keepsake box, shown in walnut with fumed oak. What are the biggest challenges you face? When I think of those 200,000 hours, in truth it’s a whole lifetime of adopting a mindset of challenging oneself and exploring beyond one’s comfort zone. My love of making is very much in my blood. Much to the frustration of my parents and teachers, I was always trying to test the boundaries of what I could do and constantly asking ‘why’ when given an instruction. My wife would say that I’m unemployable because of the number of questions I ask! A questioning nature has constantly motivated me to understand the basic principles of cabinet making in great depth. If you can deconstruct the building blocks of how timber works, moves, bends, joins etc, you can start to reconstruct it into new forms that haven’t been tried before. Are there any innovations that you are working on at the moment? We’ve got an area in the workshop dedicated to failed prototypes! Currently, it hosts a lot of failed steam-bent components. Typically, I’ve favoured laminating as a process of bending timber as it is more accurate, and I find it to be more consistent. However, this doesn’t lend itself to batch-produced designs as it is very time consuming. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been mastering the technique of steam bending and very recently we’ve been playing around with the idea of double steam bending (our Sussex Chair is a good example), and even steam bending and laminating within the same component. Given the number of split components upstairs, I’d say we’re very much still learning. As a seasoned woodworker, I wholeheartedly agree that there is something quintessentially romantic about steam bending; seeing a piece of 60mm x 60mm timber bend around a former like a piece of dough fills you with joy every time you see it. It is always a bit of a shame that you have to do it at such speed and under such pressure – you almost want to watch it in slo-mo. It’s like restraining a wild animal – you have to work quickly, accurately, and without panic, and then once it’s all strapped into position there is a sense of achievement and calm. Has the pandemic led to any changes in your business? As the UK came to a grinding halt during the first lockdown, we did have a brief period of reflection in the business, and I tried to make sure that the team used their time wisely until we felt it acceptable to return to the workshop. We developed an Eco range that uses all our beautiful hardwood offcuts, which has in turn created a position for a young apprentice to join the team – all round, a very satisfying result. After the initial jolt, we quickly found that the workshop was busier than ever, with our loyal patrons going out of their way to keep our team together and doing what we do best – crafting fine furniture. With our exhibition stream of work closed, private and commercial clients have been amazing in supporting and promoting us. The reputable Winch Design Studio has been championing our work alongside other artisans through its ‘Under Winch’s Wing’ initiative, which we joined last year. The more experienced I get, the more processes evolve, enabling me to deliver a complex and fantastic solution. This is a high-pressure job, but Winch gives you great clarity and the time to produce. Would you say creativity and collaboration go together? I love collaborations that really do push boundaries. Much of the work we do for Winch has stretched me creatively, pushing me to create things I did not really know were possible. But through careful planning and ingenuity, we have delivered. Keeping to budgets when working on superyacht projects is crucial, but occasionally there is a project that really raises the bar and makes the struggle of creativity all the more worthwhile. For those jobs for yachts that look impossible at first, we make prototypes, which themselves can take weeks to produce. It’s a process of thinking and developing, then rethinking and developing again, so we can be sure of delivering the ultimate in woodworking. As with any customised project, we start with a blank piece of paper and find inspiration from initial discussions with the client. A table, say, needs to stand up to the rigours of use – red wine, crayons, and a dropped fork – but also meet the specific aesthetic requirements of the client. What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year? There is a lot of undiscovered talent out there, and my task very soon will be gently to expand my business with additional engaged people. Artisans and woodworkers are so important to our future. I am also currently talking with artisans from all over the UK to discuss the possibilities of collective marketing and working together more closely. There is an undiscovered matrix of small, independent and talented artisans across the UK, and we all need the support of clients to develop and maintain traditional crafts for the enjoyment of all. For those that have supported us, we owe a huge thank you, and for those that are considering commissioning an artisan, please do. We would like to thank Mike Edwardson for the interview.Ocean Independence Publishing. <back to blog
1st October 2020
Sustainability, Recycling and the Environment We are always mindful of issues around sustainability, recycling and the environment at Edward Johnson. We are always looking for ways to improve how we recycle our waste products and timber, and by doing so, helping to protect and care for the environment around us. Longevity and sustainability run side by side and are intrinsic to most decisions Edward makes in both his personal and work life. He has always shared a deep love for the natural world, and if he is not in the workshop he will typically be in his garden. It is through the longevity of the products we produce, the timbers we choose and the way in which we deal with our waste that we do our upmost to respect the natural world. Our furniture is designed and crafted to a level which will see it far surpass our lifetime and be looked upon and enjoyed as heirlooms by future generations. Below we outline how we use sustainably sourced timber for all our projects and some of the other ways in which we are continuing to actively reduce our waste products and recycle wherever possible. Sustainable Materials When it comes to wood selection, we will always use sustainably sourced FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) timbers. We have a good relationship with our suppliers and select only the very best sustainably sourced timber from local suppliers. A selection of our EJ-eco products made from beautiful hardwood recycled off-cuts. EJ-eco Products We have very recently launched our EJ-eco products. These are small items made from our most beautiful hardwood off-cuts that may otherwise be discarded as waste. We have put our thinking caps on and given a lot of thought to designing products that not only use the larger off-cuts but also the smaller ones too! We have made a range of chopping boards, serving platters, flower holders, vases and plant holders where every piece is unique and different. We have also made door wedges and even wooden plant labels, and the product range is still expanding! We launched the eco products at our recent open studio to gauge our visitors’ reaction to them, to our delight we successfully sold most of our stock. Although at the opposite end of the spectrum to the high-end furniture we design and manufacture, these modest products were very well received. We felt that people really did get on board with the idea and ethos behind them. Next, we aim to distribute them through local farm shops, nurseries and gift outlets and will publish a list of stockists soon. As well as enabling us to recycle our quality timber off-cuts, it has also enabled us to employ our young part-time workshop assistant for several more hours each week, providing much-needed employment for a young person in this difficult climate. Recycling our Wood Waste As well as producing our EJ-eco products we also sort any additional hardwood that we cannot use into bags to sell for firewood and kindling. We have also reduced our waste substantially by giving any Plywood and MDF off-cuts to a local business to burn in a specially filtered biomass boiler system which heats their entire workplace. Alongside this we have also been recycling our wood shavings locally for composting, animal bedding and to local stable yards. General Recycling As you would expect we have recycling bins throughout the workshop and studio and even encourage our staff to compost their teabags and recycle their crisp packets! Recently, we sought to cut down our use of single-use plastics, by reducing the amount foam and bubble wrap we use for packaging, replacing it with brown paper and paper bubble wrap wherever possible – yes such a thing exists – it just doesn’t ‘pop’! <back to blog
Under Winch's Wing
17th September 2020
We are delighted to be 'Under Winch's Wing'! We are delighted to be featured as part of ‘Under Winch’s Wing’ on their website alongside some truly incredible artisans and craftspeople: Aiveen Daly, Alison Crowther, Laurent Peacock, Crystal Caviar, Victoria Bain, Edward Johnson, Palestrina London, DKT Artworks, Scabetti, Pinton, Paul Jewby and KLS Interiors, Max Bainbridge and Fenella Elms. Edward Johnson at work in the studio. Photo by Alan Frost. Under Winch’s Wing was established during the COVID-19 crisis to provide support to the smallest craftspeople and suppliers whose irreplaceable skill has been bringing the Winch Design portfolio to life for the past 35 years. Winch Design wanted to offer support to the smallest suppliers and artisans who help to bring the Winch portfolio to life. The artisans and craftspeople included in the portfolio were hand selected by Andrew Winch and the team in recognition of their craft, with the wish to ensure not only the survival, but the success of their studios now and into the future. Edward Johnson working on the Sussex Chairs in the workshop. Photos by Alan Frost. Based in an historic building on the banks of the River Thames, Winch Design is a full-service design and architectural studio specialising in the exterior and interior design of yachts, aircraft and residential and commercial properties. “The Winch Ethos is predicated on certain values, initiated by Andrew Winch over thirty years ago […] the importance of creating spatial energy and emotion, of designing spaces that are balanced, beautiful and uplifting and of always being inquisitive for more knowledge.” Thank you to the Winch Design team for all your support! <back to blog