The Willow Chair
The Willow Chair enriches our lives by preserving cultural heritage. This experimental chair concept was developed by adopting and adapting the traditional Sussex trug making techniques for the contemporary environment. The design leverages centuries old craft skills, reclaimed materials and contemporary production methods to preserve the disappearing craft ethos. It encourages more sustainable manufacturing whilst sparking a deeper connection between the object and user. In order to create a more sustainable future in manufacturing, I looked to the past for inspiration in the traditional English Heritage crafts using locally available and sustainably sourced materials. The trug is a basket made from willow slats, making it light weight, yet extremely robust. I participated in a trug making course in Sussex and learned about this craft dating back to the 1600s. I set out to adopt techniques which focus on hand shaping individual pieces to the modern manufacturing practices, meanwhile creating a clear link to the craft and the end product, the re-imagined Sussex Trug. I used reclaimed willow from cricket bat manufacturing for the main part of the chair; as willow was used for the original Sussex Trugs. The willow’s light weight and flexibility made it ideal for creating the slats to achieve the curved seat. For the frame of the chair, I used ash for its high elasticity, as all the stress is concentrated on this part of the chair. In order to mirror the pins used in the trugs, I used solid steel bars, which would provide the necessary strength. I used a technique called brass brushing to achieve the striking brass colour. The willow chair is a re-imagination of a craft product. It preserves the techniques and materials used by evolving them, whilst retaining the evidence of the craft to resonate with customers on a deeper level and creating a cherished product for generations instead of ending its short life in a landfill.