Homegirl London pays homage to John Green. He’s an award-winning designer with a passion for creating innovative and functional products. He didn’t study furniture design and he doesn’t consider himself a furniture designer either, it was rather a desire to make stuff that people actually wanted to buy which has created the John Green brand. He makes a number of pieces under his own name and collaborations with other designers and manufacturers.
His portfolio includes the ‘Pantone Wallstore,’ a magnetic notice board with holder, ‘Embrace’ a smart piece of flowing furniture with simple storage solutions and ‘Tab,’ a laser-cut veneer shade. John has also crafted a cool clock and some coat hooks made from broom handles, mock stag heads and archery boards. His latest hanging rack, called ‘45’ is made from solid oak with 5 steel hooks which can be arranged in the 45-degree slots. I caught up with John to ask him a few questions …
Q: How would you sum up your design ethos?
A: My ethos is simple: to create innovative and functional designs that people can’t resist!
Q: Tell me about your background in design.
A: I found my passion for design at high school where I was lucky enough to be taught by a practising designer, this teacher really did inspire me. Skip forward a few years and I graduated in 2008 with a 1st class honours in Product Design from York St John University. In my final year, I exhibited my work at New Designers, the graduate showcase in London. At this show like most graduates I was expecting job offers, but instead, something different happened. I had retailers trying to buy my products; I was not prepared for this at all. After returning from the show I was offered the chance to pilot a scheme backed by the university called Designers in Residence. This was a 2-year program set up to give fresh design graduates the breathing space and all the tools needed to set up their own design practice. The timing was perfect and I was really lucky!
Q: What was your first collection like and how successful was it?
A: Embracing the opportunity of the Designers in Residence scheme, I instantly got to work with my first range of furniture titled; ‘Experiments in Plywood.’ This range saw the realisation of products featured in my university portfolio (that had already won awards) and the creation of new products that had emerged through the journey of setting up my own design practice. 12 months after graduating I launched these products at 100% design, London 2009. At this show, I received enough pre-orders to fund tooling for my most successful piece so far ‘Embrace.’ I was also lucky enough to be approached by the Italian design brand SELETTI who took on my product ‘Pantone Wallstore.’
Q: How did your business develop?
A: I returned to 100% design the following year (2010) with 2 new products: ‘Standard,’ a coat hook made from a standard broom handle and ‘Simple,’ a hardwood chair. ‘Standard’ is now under license to another Italian brand EX-T and sold worldwide via their network of stores and stockists. ‘Simple’ is also under license and currently in development along with a whole range of pieces designed around this. Each year I exhibited, my product ‘Embrace,’ the low modern table with storage. This was getting more and more popular and as this product is still sold via my own brand, I felt it was imperative to carry on exhibiting it. In 2011 I decided to take ‘Embrace’ to ICFF, New York, because I was getting so much interest from the USA, but I was unable to fulfil orders due to the large shipping costs. My main aim for this show was to find a US distributor for the product. Again I was lucky enough to get an offer from OFFI to take on the product exclusively in the US market and allow me to carry on selling it here in the UK.
Q: When did you launch the John Green brand?
A: From day one it’s been all about the John Green brand, it’s just that with certain products I just simply do not have the infrastructure to take them to market. Licensing the designs is much easier. To keep things active with the John Green brand I launched 2 new products strictly for sale via my own wholesale brand at the HOME exhibition in 2012. The new products are the ‘Tab’ lampshade and ‘45,’ the coat hooks and the real aim was to produce 2 products that are made in the UK and more importantly affordable.
Q: Why do you have your own brand and develop pieces for other companies?
A: The reason for me having ‘Embrace,’ ‘Tab’ and ‘45’ under my own brand is so that I have some income to supplement the income I receive from royalties for designing for other brands. Although it would be great to have all the products I design under my own brand, I really like designing for other brands, because they do all the stuff they do best, sales, marketing and storage. I hate having rooms full of stock it scares me! … and I get to do the things I do best.
See below for a selection of products created by John Green. To buy go to John Green Designs. Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of John Green, special thanks to John Green.
Tab light, £65
45 coat rack, £35