Following a mini branding update I thought it'd be a bit of fun to do a quick Q&A feature to give more of an insight into my business and how I work. Feel free to ask me any questions that I haven't included... I promise to be as honest as I can be with my responses!
Q. What types of products do you design?
A. The short answer is “almost anything”. I began my career designing plastic carrier bags and dispensing systems for supermarkets. I switched to furniture in 2001. Nowadays I’m involved in designing and developing a wide variety of products from flat-pack TV stands to fully assembled occasional furniture. Projects include lamp tables, coffee tables, sideboards, dining tables, bedroom furniture, desks, medical storage units, commercial furniture (seating, desking, storage etc.) bespoke office installations, metamorphic furniture and everything in between! Over recent years I’ve been involved in the development of a couple of consumer electronics products too.
Q. What materials feature in your designs?
A. I’ve got a great deal of experience working with a number of different materials and manufacturing processes. My designs are usually based around a core selection including solid timber, veneered MDF and plywood. In addition I use glass, steel, aluminium, plastics and fabrics/leather. I’m always keen to learn about new materials and production techniques and I like to use them as and when the opportunity arises.
Q. Do you make your own furniture?
A. Alas no. At least not at the moment. I trained as a cabinet maker for 3 years on an adult learning course under the expert guidance of Neil Boden at The Manchester College from 2009-2012. The plan was to put these newly honed skills to use straight away, but other events in life intervened. My new studio and workshop should be up and running later this year, so watch this space!
I have, however, established very good relationships with a number of manufacturers in the UK and further afield over the last two decades, so I am usually able to source a manufacturer if there is a requirement to do so… even for one-off commissions. Get in touch if you have an idea that you'd like to bring to reality.
A couple of my own designs are available to purchase in my store - the Unity coat hook and small shelf. The individual components for both products are manufactured within 40 miles of my studio (with the exception of the fabric on the small shelf which are printed in Newmarket and hand-sewn in Alloa).
Q. Who do you design for?
A. I mainly design for a number of small to medium-sized businesses who are usually directly involved in furniture manufacture. My clients are based in the UK, mainland Europe and the Far East.
Q. I’ve never heard of you. What have you designed that I might have seen?
A. If you’ve ever visited a supermarket in the UK the chances are that you’ve used a products I was involved in the development of. The Pinch Pull bag dispensing system was originally launched in 1998 and aimed to significantly cut the number of plastic bags used (and wasted).
TV stands were my “thing” for many years… so if you’ve ever visited a Currys or John Lewis store in the UK you will have walked past (or possibly looked at, or even purchased!) a product I’ve designed. Probably my most successful TV stand design to date is Riva, designed for UK manufacturer Techlink.
More recently I’ve developed a number of successful furniture ranges, including Osby for Blackburn-based Heritage Furniture. Heritage sells products to both independent furniture shops and large high street retailers.
Q. OK. I’ve seen that product, but why doesn’t it have your name on it?
A. As an independent designer developing products for manufacturers it’s rare that my name ever appears alongside my designs. Much of the work I undertake is covered by a non-disclosure agreement, meaning I work “incognito”. Exceptions to this include work I’ve undertaken for Nathan Furniture, Stil Furniture, Moventi and Bulgarian-based Profoli.
Q. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
A. I love the challenge of developing new designs to a given brief. Quite often this restricts what can and can’t be done either in terms of features and functionality or the materials and manufacturing methods used. I like pushing the boundaries of what is possible and to that end I work closely with my clients and their producers to develop new ideas. I love the variety that comes with working for a number of different clients in a number of different industries.
Q. Where can I buy products you've designed?
A. Lots of the products I've designed over recent years are available to buy through some of the UK's largest and best known retailers such as Currys, John Lewis, Wayfair, Amazon and The Cotswold Company. Alas many of these products don't bear my name and they are too numerous to list in this blog. My own store contains a small but growing number of products that you can purchase directly from me. Contact me for more information regarding products I've designed for Profoli.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. Hopefully to continue what I’m currently doing and to build on the successful relationships I’ve forged with my current clients, and to develop relationships with new clients of all shapes and sizes. I plan to add to the range of products that are available to purchase in my store. I’ve got some exciting plans for later this year… but for more information on that you’ll have to stay tuned to www.iancull.co.uk/1350/ for updates!