Founder, PINCH (www.pinchdesign.com)
Every piece we have in our range is made by hand, but that doesn’t preclude the use of technology where it’s applicable. We want our pieces to feel human and instinctive and this relies on the human eye, the extension of the hand, to lock into a particular timber grain or the drape of a piece of banana fibre and that sensitivity cannot be achieved in automated making.
Craft versus technology
We shouldn’t be afraid of digital or CNC technology—it affords progress and is simply an element of industrialisation. The problem arises when you let technology take over and rely on it entirely.
In furniture making, it’s mostly about economic efficiency—we can’t be competitive if we make every part by hand. However, there are also times where it informs the design: for example, the master of one of our large-cast NIM tables is sculpted by hand, however, we wanted a juxtaposition between the top being a perfectly formed disc and the sides becoming more and more rough and textural. We used a CNC milling machine for the top to ensure an intensely perfect finish (unachievable by the human hand), but had the side elements hand-sculpted to be irregular and erratic as only humans know how to be.
In certain ways, CAD is wonderful as it allows you to let your imagination run wild and bring those ideas to life on a screen, but, in the furniture world, I find this to be a handicap as much as an advantage. Too many furniture designs look as if they’ve been designed on screen and thrust off a production line.
In our studio, model making or sculpting is even more important. We only design in sketches and models. I think there’s no quicker way to try an idea than a sketch on paper, than going straight into a 1:5 model made from whatever is necessary: balsa wood, fabric or card. This is where the magic happens—we can hold the item in our hands and feel it.
Top: Armoire, from £6,310