- James Clarke (portrait only)
For me, minimalism/modernism has a great chance of being timeless. Something that is pure and simple, that does not rely on decoration has a better chance of longevity.
Specialised in lighting and furniture, British industrial designer Terence Woodgate has become known for his elegant and modern approach. His studio, founded in 2014, creates innovative products that are ultra-efficient. His collection reflects a meticulous attention to detail, considering the smallest of components and choice of materials for each design. The result is a series of lights and furniture pieces that are long-lasting and beautiful. We spoke to Terence to discuss his approach to design, the importance of materials, and his inspirations in relation to the great design of the past.
When you felt creative for the first time in your life, was it for design?
It was when making model cars and aeroplanes as a child. I started to modify them to make them more streamlined, more beautiful in my opinion.
How has your background influence the way you design?
It has had a massive influence. Designers filter shapes, forms, juxtapositions, space, concepts and so forth. They all play a part and come to the fore when you begin a design. You also need to be open and not fear mistakes or failure.
Thinking back to the beginning of your career. Why did you choose to design lighting?
It was when I designed a mechanical/electrical connection for a light to sit above a side table. It was taken up by a lighting company and evolved to be a lighting system, which went on to win the German ‘Red Dot Best of the Best’ design award and the British Design Award. I think lighting design is a good fit between my engineering skills and my design skills. I studied engineering before design.
Minimal or timeless? Which of these two aspects is more important in the design of your products?
Both. For me minimalism/modernism has a great chance of being timeless. Something that is pure and simple, that does not rely on decoration has a better chance of longevity.
The use of marble is increasingly growing in the world of homeware design and furnishings. What are your reasons for using this material?
For me, marble is a noble natural material, which has been used extensively to sculpture objects. It is very tactile and the way the light bounces off white marble is very beautiful.
And what is your favourite marble?
Carrara. Because it has beautiful veining and it has provenance. It is not too white or too bland.
Your collections have been designed to maximise the benefits of LED technology. How important is the sustainability of the products you design? And what has been the biggest learning outcome from your use of LED technology?
Sustainability is very important. I have been following the evolution of LED’s for a long time. The incredible saving in energy consumption was the initial attraction but, in the beginning, they were very cold in colour temperature. As the technology evolved, I could see the benefits of using a light source that emits light at just 65 degrees compared to 2,500 degrees for an incandescent light source. It changed the dynamics of the entire industry. I could see the opportunity to place a light source in close proximity to delicate or flammable materials and that was exciting.
Your most notable design outside of lighting is the Surface Table that you designed for Established & Sons. You have since designed the Surface Chair. How did that project materialise and will the collection grow?
It started with a conversation with John Barnard who’s work I greatly admire. He had designed the very first carbon fibre monocoque for McLaren which changed the sport and saved lives. He went on to design and engineer the Ferrari 640—one of the most beautiful and innovative Formula One cars of all time. Together, we wanted to experiment and exploit the properties of carbon fibre for furniture. The idea was to push the limits of the material to achieve the absolute minimal aesthetic.
Which of your brand objects make you feel most proud?
They all have different attributes, but it is the next design which I am most proud.
Which iconic piece of design from the past do you wish you would have designed?
DCM chair by Charles & Ray Eames. I love its poise and the engineering. I sit on one every day.
What designers and in particular, what work of theirs do you admire the most?
Designers such as Dieter Rams as he made such a difference when it was hard to do so. I am fond of his calculators that he designed for Braun in the 70s. They are so beautiful, so simple, and they are a joy to use.
If you were not an industrial designer, what do you think you would you have done with your career?
I would have liked to have been an artist, working with few constrains would be fun.
On a more personal level, how do you enjoy spending your time away from the studio? Do you have any interests outside of design?
I have been skydiving for many years and have some 1,200 jumps. I now jump just for fun. It is a total distraction; I never think about my work and it clears my head completely.