Best of Bri­tish

Russell Pinch turns his hand to tro­phies

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents -

FUR­NI­TURE DE­SIGNER Russell Pinch was show­ing his new cab­i­nets at the Mi­lan Fur­ni­ture Fair ear­lier this year when he was made an un­usual of­fer. Im­pressed by Pinch’s de­signs, a friend asked whether he would be in­ter­ested in de­sign­ing a tro­phy for the Pan­erai Chal­lenger Tro­phy, a sail­ing and wind­surf­ing com­pe­ti­tion for young peo­ple, which is pre­sented at Pan­erai Bri­tish Clas­sic Week in Cowes this month.

Though Pinch, 45, had never de­signed a tro­phy be­fore, he agreed and the re­sult­ing cre­ation, which is made of Euro­pean cherry and shaped like the cross sec­tion of a yacht hull, took two months to com­plete. ‘Usu­ally we’re ob­sessed with mak­ing sure a piece is func­tional,’ says Pinch. ‘The beauty of a tro­phy is there’s very lit­tle func­tion, so it’s like a piece of art.’

Pinch set up his epony­mous fur­ni­ture de­sign com­pany with his wife in 2004, af­ter train­ing as a fur­ni­ture de­signer at Ravens­bourne Univer­sity in London, where alumni in­clude Jay Os­gerby, who co-de­signed the London 2012 Olympic Torch. To­day he em­ploys 10 peo­ple and works from a con­verted rail­way shed in Clapham, south London.

His fur­ni­ture is largely wooden, though he has ex­per­i­mented with jes­monite (a resin and plas­ter mix used for sculp­tures), and he is in­spired by tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship tech­niques. How­ever when it came to de­sign­ing the tro­phy, he drew in­spi­ra­tion from Eilean, a strik­ing 1930s-built yacht that had been re­stored by watch­mak­ers Pan­erai, spon­sors of the award. ‘It pro­vided so much in­spi­ra­tion. It was a case of what to edit out,’ he says.

To make the tro­phy, Pinch drew an ab­stract sketch of Eilean us­ing a pen with a tip that cre­ates a wa­ter­colour ef­fect. Next he drew 20 to 30 fur­ther draw­ings of the yacht be­fore whit­tling them down to a short­list of six, and then worked up 3D mod­els of each by hand. ‘I’m keen to take things into 3D as fast as pos­si­ble,’ he says.

Af­ter re­fin­ing the de­sign, he cre­ated a pro­to­type us­ing balsa wood, su­per­glue and ve­neer, then gave it to a cabi­net-mak­ing work­shop in Dorset to cre­ate the fi­nal tro­phy, which is the size of a cham­pagne bot­tle.

Pinch plans to travel to Cowes on Tues­day to watch the tro­phy be­ing pre­sented to the win­ner. ‘I’m a bit ter­ri­fied but also ex­cited. The mo­ment we hand it over, it is no longer about the de­sign, it’s about the win­ner and that’s quite lovely.’ pinchde­sign.com; pan­eraiclas­si­cy­achtschal­lenge.com

Top Pinch in his south London stu­dio. Above left The pro­to­type of the tro­phy. Above right Sketches made of the 1930s yacht Eilean. In­ter­view by Jes­sica Carpani

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