Co-founder Gaze Burvill (01420 588444; www.gazeburvill.com)
Using your hands gives you a connection with the material; anybody using machines has to first feel the grain of the wood and understand how it will behave. Without that, the work that you then do on the machines becomes soul-less.
Craft versus technology
I think craftsmanship can be both complemented and undermined by new technology. Some traditional techniques will hopefully be maintained, but others will disappear—it’s just evolution. We’ve always said that we’re not slaves to tradition: we respect it, but embrace technology, too. When you combine knowledge of the material with machine know-how to produce things that are very complex to replicate by hand, that’s the most powerful combination.
We got our first CNC machine six years ago. They allow you to go from sketch to design to screen and back again to tweak and fine-tune easily, allowing for a much greater freedom of movement.
Of course, you still need people to come up with concepts and forms—my designers still like to work in the isometric form, where there’s no perspective, to understand dimensions, for example. Using CAD software means that you can draw intuitively in 3D: you can add distortions, twists and warps and the computer will be able to understand the tool paths needed to be followed to realise those forms.
It’s still the fastest way to convey concepts, but, as designs become more complex, it’s getting harder. You can only sketch one angle of a 3D object, after all, and that’s where the computer helps—especially when you can add rendering or life-like backgrounds to designs. Additionally, as soon as the need for accuracy comes into play, you’re just wasting time: the days of using rulers, compasses and protractors are pretty much over.
Below: Court seat, £3,480