Furniture Designer Tom Galt was selected by Design-Nation as the winner of The New Talent Award at The Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design exhibition in Cheltenham in August 2019. Tom is currently exhibiting at The National Centre for Craft & Design in the Design-Nation Picks exhibition. We asked Tom some questions about his practice, inspiration and much more.
Design-Nation asked: Please tell us about your practice and how your business began.
Tom Galt answered: I worked as an engineer for the last 10 years, and making furniture out of wood was always something that I was really passionate about and that I did in my free time. I got to a point where I decided I would try to turn it in to more than just a hobby – I decided I’d rather it was something that I tried and possibly failed at… rather than it being one of those things I wished I’d always tried. To develop the skills I already had, I signed up to Waters and Acland Furniture School for a year. I finished there in August, so it’s still relatively early in this journey for me.
D-N: Who has been your most influential teacher or mentor?
T.G: Graham at Waters and Acland taught me a huge amount.
D-N: What inspires you?
T.G: I get inspired by interesting shapes and geometry – things in nature, architecture, industrial design, science and maths. I then try and figure out ways to use them in my furniture.
D-N: What is the best thing to have happened in your business to date?
T.G: At the Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design exhibition in Cheltenham this summer, my oak writing desk was awarded the New Talent Award and also achieved 3rd place in the visitors’ favourites from the exhibition. These two things together were a massive boost for me.
D-N: What is your workspace like?
T.G: Currently in between workspaces…
D-N: Do you work hard on your PR or do others help you to market your business?
T.G: Generally speaking it’s all me. It’s one of those jobs that you have to fit in around the more core task of designing and making. Then from time to time you’ll spend a week on marketing type tasks and you’re glad you found time for it.
D-N: What are the main challenges in your practice?
T.G: Getting established… making a name for yourself and getting your work in front of people who are potentially interested in owning a piece.
D-N: Where would you like your practice to be in 10 years?
T.G: I would love to be in a position where I’m still designing and making furniture in 10 years – that’s the goal. If I can get to a point where the business sustains itself and I can pay the bills doing something that I love, then I’ll be happy.
D-N: If you could collaborate with someone new who would that be?
T.G: I’m not going to name anyone specifically, but generally speaking I’m really in to collaborative work. You develop a style and an approach to your work, and by working with someone else with a different background you open up whole new areas for you work and that’s exciting.
D-N: If you weren’t a designer what would you like to do?
T.G: I’d be back working as an engineer – I see a lot of cross over between the two. Creative problem solving, design, ergonomic constraints and detailed planning. These aspects are heavily shared between both career paths.
D-N: Why did you join Design-Nation? What is helpful about being a member?
T.G: I was awarded a year of membership as DN sponsored the New Talent Award at the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design exhibition. It’s really useful to be part of a group of likeminded people and to have the support that comes with that.
D-N: Do you have you any exhibitions, commissions or events coming up that we should know about?
T.G: Still planning upcoming events…