Since its foundation in 1920, Ercol has always put design at its heart – design for comfort, for function and for beauty. We put some questions to Dylan Freeth, one of Ercol’s designers.
What led you to furniture design?
I was in Paris for the weekend back in 1996 and stumbled across a massive street market. It was full of beautiful furniture: some old, some modern. I’ve always enjoyed making things and I just thought ‘I could make furniture for a living’. Shortly afterwards, I went back to university in London as a 26 year old mature student.
What makes the design of Ercol products unique?
Detail. Every joint, radius and profile of the whole construction is considered. The company has over 100 years experience of working with wood. As a designer, having access to that kind of knowledge allows you to really explore what’s possible.
Products here are always designed to look and feel good – touch is an important part of Ercol furniture. They must also work well in daily life, and last for many years.
Can you briefly outline your design process?
Products usually start with a period of hand sketching. These begin as very rough scribbles and evolve into more presentable drawings as the details firm up. Computer models and renderings follow – we often make up key joints and details in solid wood at scale to get a hands-on feel for the products. A long process of technical development and prototyping then follows to make a range ready for production.
As a designer, who or what are you inspired by?
I always try to look around me at how things are made or assembled – I take photos of everything. It could be something as large as a building, the components in the tube carriage I’m sitting in, or old wooden toys my kids used to play with – anything really.
The Ercol factory also triggers a lot of ideas – seeing how a particular cutter sculpts a piece of wood, or an old mould in the bending workshop. These can all be starting points for products.
Which of your designs are you most proud of and why?
I’m very happy with the way the Romana range turned out. The brief was to produce a modern, tactile, and affordable dining range, showcasing Ercol’s skill in working solid wood. It received a Design Guild Mark for Excellent in Furniture Design.
If Dylan’s description of Ercol’s beautiful designs have got you feeling inspired, explore the collection of living, dining and sleeping.