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RAE 2008

Rearch Assessment Exercise 2008

William Warren

William Warren runs a furniture and product design consultancy that works with manufacturers, distributors and retailers. William is also a Senior Lecturer at London Met University.
His approach is to answer briefs in lateral way, with attention paid to questioning utility and improving the overall emotional experience of the user. His products ask the viewer to think about their belongings, and are often humorous in their conceptual twist.

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Research Outcomes

Outcome 1 - Perverting Manufacture
A range of furniture and products comprising crockery, blown glass, dining chair, and clothing for Trico International, a Japanese manufacturer and distributor.
The aim of the range was to develop designs for new objects that require little or no tooling, but instead rely on a ‘tweak’ to the manufacturing process. The benefit of such an approach is to give objects an uncanny familiarity and a narrative.
In Chinese whispers standard white ceramic plates, cups and saucers were given standard willow pattern transfers in the wrong order. Cup gets saucer transfer etc. The result is contemporary, easy to produce and adds to the long running east to west story of ceramic blue and white goods.
Another part of this range is a wine glass, blown to a standard form by the usual craftsmen but perverted by plying them with wine. The result is unsymmetrical glasses with the personality of drinking and the added joy of the tale to explain. The range furthers my general body of work, which tries to forge lifelong relationships between object and user.


Outcome 2 - School Furniture for the Future - Workbench
Initially concieved for a competition to win financial assistance from the Design Council, this high profile design project selected three teams of designers and manufacturers to develop new pieces of furniture for schools. William Warren and Carl Clerkin worked together as designers with Emir, a Kent based manufacturer of wooden craft tools and workbenches. The result was a new workbench for Design and Technology in secondary schools.
The subject of D&T has changed dramatically over the last twenty years. It now encompasses metals and plastics, textiles and electrical circuits and is best described as Product design rather than "wood working", which it replaces. Unfortunately, the furniture used in current D&T rooms is still the original inherited woodworking benches. The bench received praise from the Design Council and is still in production with Emir. First shown at the Design Council's offices and featured in their book, Furniture for the Future- developments in educational furniture, 2003.


Outcome 3 - Joined Up Design: Home Lockers
The Joined Up Design research project enabled the development of previous commission-based design methodologies which included the optimization of existing manufacturing processes for product design.
This project was an invited commission to design educational furniture in collaboration with the users - children, for public sector agencies. The project was widely published within specialist primary educational sector journals on project completion, but significantly disseminated through the subsequent book, Joined Up Design, 2005. This project saw the initiation of explicit user-led, personally interpreted, object-based storytelling. This would go onto to become a significant theme within later research.
Together with the Emir Workbench project, Home Lockers was featured in the Design Council's guide to commission, as a model of good practice, Furniture for the Future- developments in educational furniture, 2003. This was disseminated widely across public sector agencies. The project is currently in production.


Outcome 4 - Shelves for Life
Shelves for Life was a self-initiated project by the designer to further explore ideas of built-in sentimentality within our possessions. The aim is to make stronger emotional relationships with our belongings and encourage life-long use.
The shelves are CNC cut in oak veneered plywood to the customer's measurements. They are intended to be used throughout life as storage for personal belongings. On death, the shelves are dismantled and rebuilt as a coffin. Shelves for Life was launched at the British Library during the Travelling Apothecary Show and simultaneously at Liberties as part of Design UK, during London Design Week, September 2006. The project was subsequently featured in the international press.
The project is currently in production.


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