Founder, Katie Walker Furniture (07747 615323; www.katiewalkerfurniture.com)
A piece made by hand has a bit of the maker in it and is more expressive; items made by machine aren’t worse—they just have a different soul to them.
Craft versus technology
Traditional techniques are definitely complemented by digital technology. I’ve recently designed a range of outdoor furniture with dovetail joints that wouldn’t be practical to cut by hand—they would take too long. However, it’s still important that you experience the materials by hand to understand how they’re going to perform.
It’s not about mimicking the craftsman, but more about being able to do something much more quickly so that you can produce small batches of highly complex forms and pieces that once would only have been commercially viable by producing them somewhere overseas with lower labour costs.
I resisted this for a long time because I was adamant that I needed to be in the workshop working things out as I went along, but CAD gives so much freedom—when you can realise something in 3D and examine the different angles on the screen, it feels like flying. Rather than being a restraint, it gives tremendous freedom to be more creative.
Sketching on paper remains an invaluable way to visualise an initial idea. If you’ve got an initial design concept that you want to pursue, but aren’t sure of the way to go, you can sketch and sketch until it becomes clearer. At that point, you can move onto the computer and test its limitations.
Below: Ribbon rocking chair, £5,600