The Latest From Our 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
Sussex Collection: Key Cabinets
24th August 2020
Sussex Collection: Luna Key Cabinets Now available in a NEW timber combination: English walnut, English cherry and maple Luna Key Cabinet, 43cm (w) x 70cm (h) x 9cm (d), shown in English walnut, English cherry and maple We now have our Luna key cabinets available in a stunning new timber combination: English walnut, English cherry and maple with an oiled finish. Inside, three rails hold the specially made key rings with space at the bottom for your wallet or mobile phone. The cabinet also houses a mirror for those final checks before leaving the house. Made using our own unique Murano circular and semi-circular veneers, the gradient has been carefully selected, starting at the core to create a stunning tonal blend. Luna Key Cabinet, 43cm (w) x 70cm (h) x 9cm (d), shown in elm, London plane and maple Spotlight on Edward's Murano Technique Edward sees this process as a way: ‘to manipulate the grain of the wood as an artist would manipulate paint with a brush’. A selection of Murano veneers made with different timbers. Murano Collection The Murano Collection was originally inspired by a visit to the island of Murano, where Venetian master craftsmen have been producing glassware for centuries, by floating layers of different coloured glass through one another to produce exquisite patterns. Our Murano veneers have been developed and perfected in our workshop and are all made in-house. They have been adapted to form wavy, radial and straight designs. Each veneer uses contrasting timbers to add texture or to create a blended effect. The various patterns result in carefully matched sweeping lines and curves that engulf the entire surface of the furniture. This collection again stems from Edward’s interest and expertise in laminating. This time his aim was to develop an organic free-flowing form reminiscent of Venetian glass. To create this effect, hundreds of thin strips of wood are cut in the workshop and reconfigured, resulting in sweeping lines and curves bringing soft and organic patterns to the angular forms. The Murano veneers can be constructed in a wide range and combination of timbers and applied to almost any of our designs. Read more about Edward’s ‘Family Tree’ concept that adds an extra dimension and personalises our Murano commissions. <back to blog
Open Studio Weekend
20th August 2020
Open Studio & Workshop: Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 August 2020, 10am - 4pm Open Studio: Furniture by Edward Johnson & paintings by Natalie Dowse We would like to safely welcome you to our open studio and workshop over the August bank holiday weekend. Away from the crowds in a beautiful countryside location we will be putting on the first, and likely only, exhibition of the year showing a range of works. Sussex Chair, Ed, Edd & Eddy nest of tables & Splash coffee table Come and see: A selection of finished pieces available to view and purchase, from nests of tables, key cabinets and mirrors, through to coffee tables and a spectacular drinks cabinet.Our current commissioned work in progress that Edward will be on hand to discuss and answer any questions.A variety of smaller affordable products crafted from the same beautiful timber we use for commissions.Our studio manager Natalie Dowse is also an internationally exhibiting artist and will be showing her oil paintings and other work. Edward Johnson workshop Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 August 2020, 10am - 4pmAll welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult.Social distancing measures will be in place - don't forget your mask! 'Splash' coffee table by Edward Johnson & 'Song of the Siren 6' by Natalie Dowse Edward Johnson Ltd. Pea Barn, Old Park Farm, Old Park Lane, Bosham, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 8EX • Tel: 01243 696606Find us here: MAP 'Song of the Siren' 1 & 4, oil on canvas, 59cm x 39cm, 2020 by Natalie Dowse <back to blog
Sussex Chairs
14th August 2020
Sussex Chairs looking at home! This set of ten elegant Sussex Chairs are a welcome addition to our Sussex Collection and look stunning in their new home. These limited-edition chairs a real feat of engineering, and incorporate several different traditional techniques alongside the use of hi-tech machinery. The chairs are made of elements that combine wood turning, steam bending, mortise and tenon joints, cane weaving, hand shaping and finishing, all juxtaposed with hi-tech 5-axis CNC milling. The arm of the chair is in fact steam bent twice to achieve the final curved shape - a process not for the faint-hearted! The wedged mortise and tenon joints add a simple yet beautiful detail with the ‘herringbone’ texture of the end grain exposed. These chairs epitomise the essence of Edward’s Sussex Collection which ‘reflects his natural design aesthetic that expresses a classic yet contemporary feel, with clean, elegant lines, curved forms and stylish detailing’. The chairs are made in oak with a white oil finished with the seat upholstered with natural woven cane. The chair back features an upholstered cushion in leather with brass detailing. We are so pleased to see them looking at home in their new surroundings and thoroughly enjoyed working on this project and pulling together all these different and varied techniques. Top: Edward working on the chairs in the workshop. Left: Double steam bent arms before shaping. Right: Wood turned front leg elements <back to blog
A BIG thank you!
10th August 2020
A huge heart-felt thank you to all of our clients who actively supported us during lockdown. As it did for all our daily lives, the landscape of running a business changed dramatically in a very short space of time. At the onset of lockdown, I had to quickly postpone my paternity leave and fire fight after losing projects that were destined for France in April and then London in May and June. We had to adapt to survive with great speed; the pace of evolution has never been greater. I’m often vocal about enjoying a challenge, but that was one I’d rather have avoided - especially with sleep deprivation brought about by a new-born at home. The frustration of having the machines laying quiet and the workbenches empty despite our ability to work safely and socially distanced was difficult to quantify. It quickly dawned on me that it was a time for deep reflection and preparation for if and when commissions picked up again. We spent time sorting and rearranging the workshop and discussing and reviewing our methods in more depth than we typically get time for. To prevent the rust from setting in too deeply, periodically the team would emerge from lockdown to brush up on our skills, practising the occasional dovetail box and exploring new steam bending techniques – as a result a new all-in-one mirror and coat hook is soon to be launched. Prior to Covid, I was already looking into ways to re-use and reduce our waste timber. Therefore, I have started designing an eco-collection that makes the most of the weird and wonderful off-cuts of timber we have left over at the end of each project: From simple chopping/serving boards and door stops to miniature glass lined wooden vases, made in anything we can lay our hands on from burr elm to oak. We are aiming to distribute them through local farm shops and outlets at affordable prices. My aim is not just to make better use of our off-cuts but also to create a position for a young apprentice in these trying times. A selection of these items will be ready for sale at our forthcoming Open Studio, where you will have the opportunity to contribute to a good cause by buying an EJ Eco item. We have also reduced our waste substantially by giving our Plywood and MDF 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 and animal beds. As you can imagine, we are constantly producing shavings, so if you would like to help us recycle, please contact us, and we will be very happy to set some aside for you. There is a huge heart-felt thank you to be said to all of our clients who bought pieces from our made & ready collection at the beginning of lockdown and those that have commissioned items since in response to my ‘We need you’ message. Without you there’s every chance we wouldn’t be here now. You have kept a talented team together, whole and complete. I and my team cannot thank you enough for your support. Thank you! Edward Johnson, August 2020 <back to blog
Feature in Designing Magazine
9th July 2020
Feature in the Summer Edition of Designing Magazine We are thrilled to be featured in the Summer Edition of Designing magazine. We were approached by the editor Willy Adam who invited Edward to pen a few words about his background, education and design inspiration. Designing magazine is specifically aimed at schools, colleges and universities and is produced by the Design and Technology Association. Edward is passionate about actively keeping the furniture industry alive and the continuation and advancement of original design and craftsmanship thriving. He hopes to inspire young people to join the industry to keep both the traditional skills, and of course, the latest technology progressing. The Design and Technology Association supports high quality design, engineering and technology in education. “We are a membership organisation providing advice, support and training for those involved in teaching design, engineering and technology. We work closely with government, awarding bodies, Ofsted and other regulators, advising on the curriculum and lobbying on behalf of the subject. We also work with employers and corporate partners to help promote the value of the subject and the range of careers and opportunities to which it can lead. We specialise in developing links between education and industry to mutual benefit.” Designing magazine: Summer 2020 - No. 116 Read the article: Crafting innovative furniture for inspiring people Throughout my senior school years, I was either found on the rugby pitch or in the DT department where I was fortunate enough to have excellent teachers and facilities. This in turn led to my friends nicknaming me ‘DT Ed’! I found that focusing on my art and design work had a calming effect on my restless mind, helping me to focus, and enabling me to explore my passion for design and to develop my ideas. My overarching consideration, when thinking about and approaching design, is to question everything with an open mind and a deep-rooted determination to solve problems. I always believe that, no matter where you are with your education or career, you should always strive to improve and to always aim to progress your ideas and products to make them the best they can possibly be. Following school, I went on to study furniture design and cabinet making at Buckingham Chilterns University, graduating in 2007. Questions:My questioning mind became apparent as a child. I always wanted to know ‘WHY’: I wanted to know the reason behind almost any decision being made. Therefore, as you can imagine, this didn’t make me the easiest child to teach! I would often ask too many questions and disrupt the flow of lessons. Although I realise now this must have been very challenging, it is however part of my character that drives and motivates me. Moving forward, this trait has certainly contributed to the successful furniture design business I now run. Escaping the Maze:A few designers stumble upon brilliant ideas, but most need to work very hard at it. However, those that do stumble upon a brilliant idea early on can often struggle to surpass their initial success. I believe there is a fundamental reason for this: that perhaps they didn’t fully understand how and why they got there first time around. Rather than being a single lightbulb moment, good design is very much an ongoing process. It is something that takes time, effort and hard work if you are to fully explore your ideas. It is rather like escaping from a maze: you start with a basic idea, an idea that is either self-generated or given to you by others - perhaps teachers or clients? You then explore different routes and paths in search of a solution to your problem. You will often come to a dead end and need to turn back, but with determination, belief and an open mind you’ll eventually find a solution that works. But don’t just be content with that solution, as it could probably still be improved! I have been running my furniture design and manufacturing business for 10 years, and I now employ staff to help me with the daily routine and rigours, from marketing to cabinet making. I’ve always considered the making aspect to be part of the design process, and I’ve come to use the craftsmanship element and my technical making knowledge as the unique selling point that sets me apart as a designer. Through successes and failures, I understand how timber works - how it bends, how it shapes, how it shrinks and expands. It is this knowledge and knowhow that enables me to produce my concept-led designs, whilst pushing the limits of my materials. Looking back, I feel I have achieved a decent amount through my work and career thus far. However, I still feel there is so much more exploring, fun, experimentation and head scratching ahead of me. Methodologies:My work is largely experimental and inventive, and I like to find my own path and techniques to create unique pieces. Two examples of this would be my Ripples Collection and my Murano Collection, where I have worked hard to find inventive ways to achieve these results. Ripples:My Ripples Collection was inspired by the action of a stone dropping into water. My concept was to give the illusion of the ripples engulfing the entire form, bringing movement, life and softness to the surfaces. I spent many hours prototyping, perfecting and refining this technique to enable the successful crafting of this unique effect. A real breakthrough moment! Murano:My Murano Collection was inspired by a visit to the island of Murano, where Venetian master craftsmen have been producing glassware for centuries, by floating layers of different coloured glass through one another to produce exquisite patterns. I have developed this technique by layering different combinations of timber together to produce wavy, radial and straight designs. The various patterns result in carefully matched sweeping lines and curves that engulf the entire surface of the furniture. The circular and semi-circular designs are reminiscent of the growth rings of a tree. Edward's Family Tree concept. <back to blog
The glory of gardening
22nd April 2020
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.~ Alfred Austin I am extremely fortunate to have a nice garden, and over the past few warm and sunny weeks the bulbs and plants have begun to spring to life. I have always had an enormous respect and appreciation for nature, and many of my furniture designs take inspiration from it. I have also been a keen gardener for many years. Like many, I have appreciated my garden even more whilst in lockdown, with the garden fence being as far as we can safely venture. Whether your garden is large or small, or you are a keen gardener or not, I am certain our personal outdoor spaces have provided us with an essential sanctuary during these unprecedented times. My heart truly goes out to those that do not have this luxury, and hope that many have been able to utilise our parks and green spaces, albeit, sadly, without the ability to sit and ponder. Whilst working from home and seeing a lot more of my garden I have been mulling over ideas for organic structures, alternative dividers, fencing and screens, and the possibilities of sculptural seating: forms that combine function and aesthetics which I can integrate creatively with my planting schemes. The possibilities are endless, and my imagination has been fired. If you too have been pondering your garden and outdoor spaces, and would like to discuss any ideas you have had for outside structures and designs - no matter how unformed or ambitious - please get in touch, and I would be very happy to discuss your ideas with you. Most of our work is done remotely and commissions can, on the whole, be instigated through emails, phone calls, skype or facetime. Edward Johnson, April 2020 'Undressed' Clothes Valet - Made and ready stock: £770 + delivery. Inspiration In August 2017, we were commissioned through ‘a space’ in Southampton and Stonewater Housing to produce an outdoor public art sculpture. It was made for a small housing development called Gascony Place, and installed in Anjou Close under a beautiful old oak tree, in the Bearwood region of Bournemouth. You can read more about it on our blog here. Perhaps for some inspiration! The Pennant sculpture newly installed at Gascony Place with its early planting. We keep meaning to go back to see how it has grown! Photo: Alex Batten. Constructing and trialling the sculpture outside the workshop. <back to blog
Small businesses need your support!
31st March 2020
Dear friends, colleagues and clients, I wanted to write an appeal given the current challenges that thousands of businesses are facing across the country and indeed worldwide. Small businesses far and wide need your support! The country is facing a major problem with both supply and demand of products and whilst the headline news is focused on increased demand in supermarkets, many other sectors are experiencing a dramatic decrease in business. My concerns for small businesses far and wide, are not just for the coming weeks, but the coming months. We, like many others, have already experienced the immediate effects with projects being cancelled at short notice. Naturally our focus is on the here and now, but sadly this problem is not going away any time soon! I implore you not to freeze but to continue with life as best you can in these challenging circumstances, albeit from the safety of your home for those who are able. Government support may go some way to getting businesses through the coming weeks, but we will need your support to keep us busy through the coming months. With your support we can get through this and also keep our loyal and talented team together. Most of our work is done remotely and commissions can, on the whole, be instigated through emails, phone calls, skype or facetime. We also have an excellent selection of stocked furniture that is ready and waiting to be delivered through non-contact means. I wish you all the best and I hope you remain safe and healthy!Best wishes Ed