There is very little that is genuinely new these days. Mostly, creativity is about new combinations of existing things; and that’s fine – there are some very interesting combinations to be found.
But it is exciting when you do come across something completely new.
Tom Raffield discovered steam bending when he was in his second year at Falmouth Art College studying 3D Design. He was so excited by the possibilities it offered for working with wood, that he set about developing his own, completely new, method of using this process. He steams small sections of wood specific to where he wants a bend, enabling one piece of wood to be bent several times in different places. This means almost any shape can be formed from wood, and the results are spectacular.
The Chaise Longue No 4, which he developed the following year, still ranks as his favourite piece. He says he loves it for its “asymmetric organic form” and cites the West Country as a real inspiration.
Tom grew up in Exmoor and now works in Cornwall and that influence is clear in his work. He describes his childhood home as being surrounded by “extreme wilderness, tranquillity and natural beauty” and there’s definitely something untamed and slightly wild about his creations.
The way he describes Exmoor is almost enough to inspire you without even needing to go there; “The contrast between the open barren moorland and the moss covered wooded valleys teeming with life is stunning; and the way this suddenly comes to an end with a dramatic coastline… I’m forever seeing new shapes and lines within nature, which feed into my work.”
With such a rich landscape to draw on, it’s no wonder he came up with something entirely new. And thank goodness he did, because the language of design is richer for it.