John Rook designs furniture that, while quirky, makes the most of elegant lines. The influences on his work are incredibly varied and have resulted in work that is seamlessly multi-faceted. We took some time to have a quick chat about himself, design and what we’ll be seeing at 100% Design.
Firstly – if you could just tell us a bit about yourself! How long have you been designing and making furniture and where did it all begin?
I’m new to this. In a previous existence, I was an economist, working and living in Africa.
I’ve designed individual pieces of furniture for myself for many years but lacked the skills to translate my designs into finished products so I went back to school to learn the craft of cabinet making. I’ve set up a small workshop in Herefordshire where I design and hand produce contemporary free standing furniture including the K Desk and Rimpie Chair which I am exhibiting at this year’s 100% Design.
Are there any particular eras or designers that have strongly influenced you?
After living in Africa for so long, it’s difficult not to have been influenced by the vast indigenous ethnography of the continent – not only forms but colours and textures – and the style of earlier settler furniture. My use of purpleheart (a naturally purple coloured hardwood) and my “Rimpie Chair” are examples of these influences.
I tend to like simple styles with flowing lines, mixing curves with straight edges and keeping the pieces light and unassuming. I don’t think furniture should dominate or impose. Like many, I am attracted to contemporary Scandinavian and early American styles.
You’ll be unveiling two new products at 100% design – could you tell us a little about them?
The K Desk, whose legs are an interpretation of the letter K, is made from rippled sycamore and purple heart. The two timbers providing a striking combination. It has a simple flip up lid with invisible stainless steel hinges. Inside the desk are two push open trays.
The Rimpie Chair is made from the same timber. The side profile of the chair is made from laminated sycamore, the lamination adding strength to the structure. In keeping with the simplicity of chair, each sycamore section has the same radii. The cross rails are made from purple heart, an extremely stable and strong timber. The chair gets its name from the back and the seat which are strung with leather/cotton cord (a Rimpie is a length of rawhide which CapeDutch settlers in South Africa used in chair making). I’m in the process of making a series of these chairs using alternative vivid colours for the cross rails and cord.
I’m bring these two pieces to 100% Design because I think they have potential for exclusive small batch production.
Lastly – when not designing, making, running a business and ‘general dogs’ bodying’, how do you like to spend your time?
What spare time? I find designing and making furniture very therapeutic, perhaps because you can see the results of your effort; something one doesn’t experience as an economist!
Yout can see these new pieces at 100% Design on Stand L344.