Robert Welch - Design: Craft and Industry

Robert Welch Alveston tea pot | Design Hunter

Laurence King publishers recently sent me a pre-launch copy of a new book about Robert Welch by Charlotte and Peter Fiell.

Inviting me to review it is hardly a big ask as Graham and I have long been fans of both the designer and the company and have often given each other selected designs (both historical and current) as gifts at Christmas. As a result we've accumulated a modest sized collection of Robert Welch tableware, candleholders and other pieces.

Robert Welch - Design: Craft and Industry documents the incredible and prolific outputs of Robert Welch, one of the most talented and respected British designers of the twentieth century. It charts his life, from early beginnings at Malvern School of Art and Birmingham School of Art and then onto the Royal College of Art before setting up a successful design practice, workshop and store in Chipping Campden.

Working on a broad range of designs, over several decades, many of which are still in production today, Robert Welch was recognised for his great contributions to design, craft and industry with an RSA award for Industry. He was also made an Honorary Fellow by the RCA.

The book seamlessly flows through historical overviews, design philosophies and the company's evolution, featuring both archival classics and more contemporary designs, all beautifully illustrated with sketches and technical drawings of both craft made and industrially manufactured pieces. There's also a foreword from Alice and Rupert Welch, Robert's son and daughter, now his successors at the head of the family business.

Robert Welch Alveston milk jug | Design Hunter

Our favourite pieces, which include the classic designs produced by Old Hall in Walsall, were made, with incredible craftsmanship, utilising the post-war vogue material stainless steel. The early 1960s Alveston tea set is justly described in the book as "arguably one of the finest stainless steel designs ever produced". We use ours every weekend for lazy Sunday morning breakfasts and always marvel at its 'seamless' construction.

So yes, I am biased I know, but this really is a lovely book, perfect for the coffee table, (or in our case the tea tray). Be warned though, you might get hooked and start collecting!

Breakfast table | Design Hunter
Robert Welch Alveston tea set | Design Hunter

Robert Welch - Design: Craft and Industry by Charlotte & Peter Fiell will be published by Laurence King in September.

Images by Design Hunter.

5 minutes with... Fabien Nauroy of Native Union

Marble phone case by Native Union styled by Hege Morris and Deborah Gordon
Fabien Nauroy

The boundary between our working life and our leisure time and social life has become increasingly blurred in recent years. I love how technology has created new ways of working and allowed many of us to now have the freedom to work wherever we are, and it's interesting to observe how designers have responded to this change by creating products that not only support modern ways of working but are also covetable lifestyle accessories. Native Union's minimalist tech accessories, designed in a range of luxurious materials, being a case in point. Established in 2009, the brand has created a collection of handsets, speakers, cases and charging accessories with a refined aesthetic that is rooted in simplicity and utility.

For a smartphone addict like me their marble iPhone case is an accessory every bit as desirable as the latest watch or the Celine sunglasses I recently splurged on. When I came across it on Instagram via a collaboration they recently worked on with stylists and bloggers Hege Morris and Deborah Gordon (who created these beautiful images), I wondered how it might be possible to create a phone case made from real marble that was light enough for everyday use. After trying one out - Native Union were kind enough to send me a sample - I was amazed to discovered that it actually weighs no more than a regular phone case. Using new techniques and advanced materials they've been able to take a 0.3mm slice of solid marble and create an incredibly slim, lightweight, shatterproof design.

Heading up the design team at Native Union, and leading them to critical acclaim within industry since he joined the company in 2010 is Fabien Nauroy. Fabien grew up in Avignon, France, studying at Creapole-ESDI in Paris where he graduated with a masters degree in Industrial Design. Here he shares some of his influences and inspirations and an insight into the company's design philosophy.

Marble iPhone case by Native Union | Styling by Hege Morris and Deborah Gordon
Native Union charging cable | Styling by Hege Morris and Deborah Gordon

Which three words best describe your design philosophy?

Minimal, intuitive and attention to detail and materials.

Who or what inspires you?

The Bauhaus movement from Max Bill's work with Junghans to Dieter Rams at Braun. I love this obsession of keeping only the essential, simple form, following function with subtle details on texture and materials. More recently Yves Behar's work with Fuseproject or Jony Ive at Apple of course. Both have reinvented the consumer electronic market. However, most of our inspiration at Native Union comes from other industries - like home and furniture designer Tom Dixon or Danish studio HAY. We try to keep one eye open on everything - fashion, sportswear, lighting, even kitchenware, to find new materials and trends we could bring into the tech accessories world.

What is your most treasured object in your own home?

A PP124 rocking chair designed by Danish designer Hans Wegner. I can't live without it now, it's really a part of my daily routine, from reading the news in the morning to working late. I actually have a desk at home I never use since I have this chair!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The Native Union product range, even though it's not finished and constantly evolving.

Where's your favourite place to be?

Avignon, my home town in the South of France, at the stadium watching a local rugby game with a glass of Pastis.

What are you reading right now?

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

Which words of wisdom do you try to live by?

Work hard, play hard.

Native Union speaker | Styling by Hege Morris and Deborah Gordon
Native Union charging cable syled by Hege Morris and Deborah Gordon
Monocle speaker by Native Union | Styline by Hege Morris and Deborah Gordon
Monocle speaker by Native Union | Styling by Hege Morris and Deborah Gordon
Walnut wood iPhone case by Native Union | Styling by Hege Morris and Deborah Gordon

Styling and photography by Hege Morris and Deborah Gordon.

A modern rustic kitchen

Modern rustic kitchen by Sebastian Cox for deVOL

deVOL have teamed up with Sebastian Cox to create this beautiful modern rustic kitchen featuring sawn timbers, woven coppiced beech, solid oak worktops and a hint of copper.

Utilising sustainable British timbers and combining modern innovation with traditional techniques the result is a carefully considered mix of classic and contemporary design.

Copper sink - modern rustic kitchen by Sebastian Cox for deVOL
Modern rustic kitchen by Sebastian Cox for deVOL
The whole kitchen is designed to look like it breathes. We’ve created something that feels clean, simple and light but is brimming with subtle texture to keep the choice of material front of mind
— Sebastian Cox
Interior of stained black kitchen drawer - Sebastian Cox for deVOL

After my recent musings on staining or painting our floorboards black I can't help but admire the inky black dye that has been used in this range. This stains the wood rather than lying on top of it like a paint, allowing the texture of the wood to remain visible and giving it a tactile finish.

Modern rustic kitchen by Sebastian Cox for deVOL
Modern rustic kitchen by Sebastian Cox for deVOL

Woven coppiced beech is used for the back panel of this freestanding cabinet.

Coppiced beech panel - Sebastian Cox for deVOL
Modern rustic kitchen by Sebastian Cox for deVOL
Modern rustic kitchen by Sebastian Cox for deVOL

A thoughtfully designed and crafted kitchen that will stand the test of time.