Monday, 27 June 2011


Devon based Young & Norgate produce beautifully crafted, seemingly simple pieces of furniture. We asked Dave from the company some questions which he kindly answered (with a little help from the team.) Read on to learn about a Danish design duo that inspires them, what keeps the studio working and the importance of sourcing the right materials.

When, how and why did Young & Norgate start?

Whilst grilling sausages over a campfire in North Devon, where Ross and I met studying and we formed the idea to set up in business together. It was early 2010, Ross had notched up seven years in Bench Joinery and I was in the final stages of pulling together the current collection. We both realised that we had complimentary skills to get something off the ground and shared the same vision.

How have you found getting the right craftsmen involved?

Cabinetmaking is not top of most people’s lists when they consider a ‘hands-on’ career. It’s hard work, requires patience but is incredibly rewarding. We have been lucky in that we have attracted a talented team of craftsmen who love what they do. We’re soon to be joined by some young guys under a joinery apprenticeship scheme who we train in finer cabinetry skills. There aren’t so many colleges tailored towards cabinetmaking so we are taking on students who are keen to learn the craft.

We are also very conscious of the environmental impact of sourcing materials in one continent, making it in another continent and then shipping it half way across the world to sell somewhere else. Our products may be more expensive than those mass produced elsewhere but we deliver a more unique and higher quality product. It’s a bit like buying eggs.

Where does the team get its inspiration?

We are big fans of what has come from midcentury Scandinavia and more recently Japan. There is a timeless, beautiful simplicity to the work - although this often makes for challenging manufacturing. Based on the south coast of Devon, we take our inspiration from good clean outdoor living and a lifetime of travel experiences.

Who are your favourite designers/companies?

I am a big fan of Danish duo Finn Juhl and Niels Vodder. Some of Juhl’s designs from the 1940s look like they would sit comfortably adorning any glossy design magazine today and his right hand man Vodder produced an outstanding quality of craftsmanship.

Truck, a Japanese husband and wife team from Osaka, making all their furniture themselves. They craft furniture that is true to materials used with a nice retro twist.

LayerxLayer, a collaborative design studio crafting exceptionally designed products from domestic materials in the USA.

What about beyond the realms of design?

Where to start? If its a case of what makes our days... KCRW online music channel provides a great soundtrack to our days in the workshop. It’s sponsorship supported so there are no ads and very little commentary. Pynes Farm Shop around the back of our workshop, aside from supplying great local produce, have one of the best selection of local biscuits. And Nude Coffee from East London who send us freshly roasted beans to keep us wired.

Why make your items here?

We make our products in the UK because we want to make them ourselves. We love what we do, there’s great satisfaction knowing that a chair we made by hand is going to last generations and be appreciated by many. The UK has heritage in the craft, producing some of the best craftsmen and we want to continue that legacy. In keeping everything in house we can guarantee a high level of quality.

Wellington Chair by Young & Norgate

What consideration do you give materials? Do have any particular favourites to work with?

Obviously we are biased when it comes to timber - particularly FSC certified oak and walnut. We have a fantastic timber yard just down the road where we handpick the boards best suited to our furniture. The timber selection very much depends on the design and required density to achieve certain tolerances on chairs etc. With the Wellington Chair we wanted to push the limits to what timber thickness we could get away with. Maple being a tight grained wood is perfect. We also work with leather and laminates.

Where/what is Young & Norgate's top tip for anyone visiting Devon?

Hire a VW campervan from O’Connor’s Campers and explore the North Coast, stopping at our favourite campsite Little Meadow near Ilfracombe. Also great surfing along the way.

Mountain biking on Dartmoor. An abundance of trails through moorlands.

BBQ on Devon’s only floating cafe - the River Exe Cafe. Just opened, this is a fantastic spot for a sun-downer, bowl of mussels or a BBQ. Can be accessed by boat or water taxi.

Sunday, 26 June 2011


A very short round-up of items on UK manufacturing and design that have caught the eye this week, starting with an informative video from Loake, above.

And, another video. This one is of the manufacturing process at J Price, the only remaining UK tennis ball manufacturer, based in Bath.

Sunday, 19 June 2011


The week's stories in manufacturing, making and design in the UK:

Dorset Brewing Company opens new brewhouse to meet demand

The Department of Business and Innovation (BIS) is planning an event during the 2012 Olympics to support British manufacturing

Bad news for Bombardier as it misses out on Thameslink project to Siemens

Saturday, 18 June 2011


Coverage for Manufacture & Industry in the new issue of Viewpoint magazine. The comprehensive article by M. Astella Saw focusses on consumers' growing interest in craft and how certain brands are responding. Please click on the spreads for a closer look (apologies for the lack of slickness.)

Here are a few select quotes from the piece:

"There seems to be a desire to understand more about where objects come from, how they are made and, consequently, how to make them." (Rosy Greenlees, executive director of the UK Crafts Council)

"As production has shifted further away from the consumer, you lose that sense of where things come from." (James Shaw, Albam)

"Fantasy doesn't look so appealing any more... Competitors will go one step further to show behind the scenes at their workshop, mill or ethical factory. They will outline that their provenance is finer, that they really are to be trusted, and hence that their brand and product are ones to purchase or invest in." (Hugo Macdonald, Monocle)

And a couple that M&I contributed:

"Big brands are too frightened of giving away their secrets. The most interesting brands are often smaller, younger companies, such as Marwood, a tie brand that has documented its research and development process from the start."

"So many people have lost touch with the costs of materials, production and distribution. If you understand these things you are much more likely to part with your money where value is shown."

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


SCP, the London based furniture company founded by Sheridan Coakley, sporadically publishes a paper. The latest one was released in April this year and is worth picking up (or downloading in pdf form here) for the information on the craftspeople that the company works with.

The article briefly covers Coakley & Cox Ltd (pictured on the spread above), SCP's own specialist upholstery factory in Norfolk where 'expertise and knowledge are shared and designs are made collectively'.

Also mentioned are hand-made ceramics from Stoke-on-Trent (where SCP uses two factories to make its designs) and textile weaving in Wales. The latter is 'a traditional mill... that has been in the same family for over a century'. According to the paper, SCP has its own yarn specially spun and dyed in Yorkshire that is sent to Wales for weaving.

Thank you to Lucy at SCP for sending over images of the Stoke-on-Trent pottery and Welsh textile weavers. Readers can see more of these on the M&I Facebook page.

Sunday, 12 June 2011


The week's stories on manufacturing and design in the UK:

John Rushton on English shoes in a video from Utile (also above)

Margareta Pagano makes a good argument in The Independent on what needs to be done to ensure the UK's manufacturing sector continues to grow

An in-depth article on Moorhouse, the Burnley based brewery from The Publican's Morning Advertiser

How traditional satchels made by a Cambridge mother and daughter became a global hit (admittedly this story actually made the news last week but was missed)

Nice post on Scottish knitwear for children over on Make it British

Coventry pride at making of Olympic torch

Two good bits of news for the auto industry this week, Mini safeguards 5,000 jobs with announcement it'll make new cars here. Meanwhile, Nissan also announces it will make the new Qashqai in the UK

Oh, and not that anyone mentioned it, but there's a parliamentary search for the 'Best of British Manufacturing' going on

Thursday, 9 June 2011


M&I was presented with the opportunity to ask Nigel Cabourn some questions this week. The well respected menswear designer is based in Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne and for the last four years has been producing a collection that is solely made in England using British fabrics. The label is called Authentic and uses 15 manufacturers in the UK who, according to Mr Cabourn 'are all making a very special product at a very high level.'

Here is our brief Q&A in full:

M&I: In a recent interview you said "I make everything in England, which isn't easy these days. It's a labour of love." – Can you explain what drives you to make your garments here?

NC: That’s pretty easy, it’s the authenticity. I love making authentic, real products - I am not interested in fashion... just something that is truly real. I go to great lengths to find manufacturers who make those real clothes. For example, our cold weather parkas were worn in the war, and I sourced out the original manufacturer. It makes it really special and authentic. I want it real. Not fashion. Function and quality is key to me. I want it to last forever. Everything made by Cabourn has huge longevity; it’s something you can pass down to your kids.

A Nigel Cabourn Authentic Tenzing Jacket

M&I: Is the renewed interest in products made in the UK having an impact on your business?

NC: I would say yes, hugely. Generally there is a huge interest in heritage garments. I think our advantage is that our company has been going for 40 years. We have a fashion heritage as well as a real heritage - that’s what makes us special.

M&I: As a leading designer creating UK made products how do you feel
about the likes of Burberry and Jack Wills purporting Britishness?

NC: I don’t mind with Burberry, I think they have every right; they are an old establishment. After all, they did dress Captain Scott, who was the first British man to cross Antarctica in 1912 - his whole crew was kitted out in Burberry. (It’s actually Scott's 100th anniversary next year and I am doing a collection for this.) But I feel that Burberry has every right. Jack Wills - it’s a completely different story.

M&I: Can you explain the inspiration for your Aircraft Jacket please?

NC: The idea originally came from a British RAF jacket, which was worn by pilots during WW2. However this jacket is only inspired by the WW2 jackets, and then we took it into a new development fabric of beeswax and oil cloth which we did last year.

M&I: Can you tell us more about your bag range?

NC: We are making more bags. We are working very closely with a very famous old fishing company, similar to Barbour, but who always specialized in old fishing bags from the 1920s, called Brady (based in Walsall.) The start of our relationship was based on my interest in vintage fishing bags. Recently I discovered that a couple of my favourite styles are old Brady bags from the 30s and 40s. I suggested to Brady that we do a collaboration, they were very excited and that’s what we are doing today.

Concept board for AW 11

M&I: What does the remainder of 2011 hold for Nigel Cabourn?

NC: What it holds for me is to get all of my winter production made beautifully and out on time. For us to go out over the summer and have a fantastic spring season - those are the two key things. Then we will start putting our minds on the opening of our shop in New York for July 2012.

M&I: Ok, to finish off, some lighter questions; w
hat's on your bedside table?

NC: At present- Scott of the Antarctic- Im reading it because I want to do a collection for AW12 based on his expedition.

M&I: Do you favour any other UK made brands/products?

NC: Margaret Howell - I wear one or two pieces of her pieces, particularly the shirts. I like that it’s a bit more basic and not over the top.

M&I: And finally, what is your favourite walk?

NC: I don’t have a favourite walk, and I’d like to say I do, as I do enjoy walking. When I get the opportunity I like walking in the lakes.

FOOTNOTE: Many thanks to Nigel, Kiomi and Drew at Nigel Cabourn for their time and help. Kiomi has recently set up the company blog which is well worth a look.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


The Olympic torch, designed by Barber Osgerby, engineered by Essex based Tecosim and made by Coventry's Premier Group.

Image from Dezeen

Monday, 6 June 2011


Is rapid prototyping (still) the future of manufacturing? Professor Adrian Bower, the inventor of Reprap, an in-home 3D printer, thinks so.

Black Country Atelier: Production Line from Black Country Atelier on Vimeo.

'If Dr Bowyer's vision is realised there could be profound implications for the global economy. Instead of large companies manufacturing large numbers of consumer goods and distributing them to shops, consumers would buy or share designs on the internet, manufacturing items on their own replication machines', said The Guardian back in 2006 (rapid prototyping has been cited as 'the future' for over five years.)

Regardless, the work of Black Country Atelier is fascinating and this video does a good job of clearing up some of the myth around rapid prototyping. There's also some great footage of iron casting at Blists Hill Victorian Town.

Black Country Atelier has three installations at The Festival of Britain on London's Southbank, running throughout the summmer. On the weekend of the 13th and 14th August the Midlands 3D prototyping hub will be 'turning the Royal Festival Hall into a fully functioning workshop' as part of the Power and Production weekend.

Sunday, 5 June 2011


The week's stories on UK manufacturing and design:

Once Was England visits Church's factory in Northampton

James Dyson's favourite design of all time is the Moulton bicycle

Port magazine goes where M&I has been before; Sunspel's factory in Long Eaton

The Manufacturer ponders the 'revival of made in Britain'

The Made in Britain blog talks socks

Photo from Once Was England