Tab Shelf Blue

Profiles: Phil Procter

Portrait phil procter designerHomegirl London pays homage to Phil Procter.  He’s a British furniture and product designer making a collection of considered, contemporary objects for the home.  Phil’s all about beautiful form with functionality, his penchant is for design which can be enjoyed on a daily basis.  Take his Quello Table for instance, not only is it sleek and minimalist but it can be used as an occasional table or a desk and cleverly appears to be leaning up against a wall.  Phil makes a range of other tables along with shelves, a clock and some quirky magnets and button pins.

Having trained at Bucks New University – National School of Furniture, Phil mastered his trade through studio experience with Julia Lohmann in London and with Chris Kabel in Rotterdam.  Now based at his own studio in York, he produces his own range of thoughtful furniture and accessories.  I caught up with Phil to ask him a few questions …

Q: Tell me more about your design ethos.

A: My design ethos is to create charming and honest products, to be lived with and loved.  I primarily design with functionality in mind, aiming to refine an objects form to its most essential components.  I use familiar materials such as wood and steel – materials, which over time; achieve their own texture and depth.  I’m also a firm believer in the importance of details.  These little touches and considerations are what I believe makes a beautiful product.

Q: What has been your most valuable training experience?

A: I studied at Bucks New University in High Wycombe on the Contemporary Design course.  Both the university and town are steeped in British furniture history, I couldn’t have hoped for a better place to learn.  There were 6 different furniture courses and great facilities which created a fantastic atmosphere and nurturing environment.  The tutors there were inspiring and challenging, amongst many other things they taught me the importance of details.  Whilst studying and since, I have been fortunate to intern and freelance for inspiring designers, artists and design labels which continue to be of benefit to my development and personal work.

Q: What inspired you to set up your own business?

A: Whilst working in small design studios as a student, I was struck by the amount of freedom you have to create and experiment.  You have an idea and you can run with it as far and as fast as you like.  This independence really sold it to me and I continue to enjoy it.  There is also a genuine sense of achievement when successful projects finish because you know the outcome it is solely through your own doing.  Obviously you realise once you get into it, there are many facets of running a business which you don’t foresee as a slightly naive student, but I still wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q: Which furniture designer inspires you the most?

A: I would say it is Ray and Charles Eames.  They turned their hand to everything and did it with such finesse and intelligence it never ceases to amaze me.  Whether it was innovating manufacturing processes or creating educational videos for schools they added their unique touch to everything and blew open the boundaries of being a ‘designer.’

Q: Most of your pieces can be found in the study/home office – is this your favourite room in the house?

A: It is indeed one of my favourite rooms though it was not intentional to focus on that setting, it came more from necessity.  When I was starting it was important to intelligently design products which required little investment and could be produced in small batches.  This meant that larger furniture pieces were not feasible so I turned to do smaller items which were still highly functional, this is where products like the Pippin Magnets and Tab Shelf came from.

Q: Do you have many of your own designs at home?

A: I do, usually the damaged or unsellable ones!  I have the prototype Quello table and Stool and two Gallo tables at home and all the smaller products dotted around my studio!  I’d say my girlfriend probably has the most though; she has quite a lot of my prototypes and a few one-offs.

Q: What’s the best piece of business advice anyone has ever giving you?

A: Be thrifty.

Q: Do you manufacture in Britain?

A: Indeed I do – all my products are manufactured in Yorkshire using in-house production or through out-sourcing to local manufacturers.

Q: Do you make bespoke commissions for the public?

A: Yes, and it is a highly enjoyable part of what I do.  I welcome bespoke commissions as it gives me an opportunity to create new designs which can then go on to inform commercial pieces.  The Nina dining table actually started as a private commission that has now translated into a production piece.  I work closely with local craftspeople in the production of bespoke pieces to ensure the quality remains extremely high.

Q: Do you have anything exciting happening for the rest of the year?

A: I am currently in productive hibernation actually, focusing on developing some new work for established brands as opposed to my own studio.  This gives me a bit more freedom regarding materials and production processes which makes for a refreshing change.  I am, as always, also working on new self-initiated projects so we will see where they lead.  Keep an eye on my website/blog for updates!

Below is a selection of Phil’s products which you can buy from Phil Procter.  Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Phil Procter, special thanks to Phil Procter.

Quello Table and Stool

Quello table, £800

Gallo Table 1

Gallo table, £205

Nina Dining Table

Nina table, £1,500

Axis Clock 1

Axis clock, £60

Tab Shelf Blue

Tab shelf, £32

Button Pins

Button pins, £12

Pippin Red

Pippen magnets, £19.95