In the first of a new series of insights into the life, business and practice of Design-Nation members we hear from furniture designer maker Jonathan Rose on his recent collaboration with weaver Angie Parker. He tells the story and shares his thoughts here:
A story about a journey
This story is about how two Design-Nation members exhibited a chair at Decorex 2019, one to make the chair and one to weave the upholstery.
It started at Design Junction in 2018, when Angie stood back to look at things and said in a casual way that she could put some of her fabric on my chairs. What did I think?
Three months later, we were showing my chairs with her upholstery fabric at Spotlight, with the Devon Guild of Craftsmen in Bovey Tracy. A year later we were at Decorex exhibiting together at the top of the stairs at Olympia, in pride of place. This was our third time of meeting. Why and how did this work?
Creative collaborations are not unheard of, but more as partners than collaborators. Collaboration suggests a common purpose independent of each other but committed to the goal. Much has to go right for the outcome to be successful.
For me, the overriding benefit of collaboration was to reach a market that wasn’t just looking for my style of chair. I thought immediately that Angie could help, as someone who wanted to expand her range of fabrics to modern furniture.
I think of my primary, identifiable skill as making furniture. When collaborating I realise I have other less visible skills, namely a willingness to engage, basic IT and understanding publicity – all learnt from 10 years in business. Angie knows instinctively how to weave upholstery. Less obvious to me at the time was her social media touch, ability to publicise our product and her network.
We developed trust. Trust that we could each deliver in time for a programme; trust that we wouldn’t overcommit each other financially; trust that we could share any rewards. There was plenty to trip us up.
In hindsight the benefits are far more than mentioned here. Small things that become second nature; learning with someone else; learning how to explain things to someone with a different creative language. I am certainly more than a year wiser than when we met.