Willis & Gambier is an award-winning British furniture design and manufacturing company who recently celebrated their 25th anniversary. We sat down with Martin Rapko, one of their Senior Design Managers, to talk about all things design.
What led you to furniture design?
I enjoyed doing arts and crafts as a young boy - I enjoyed building and creating things from scratch. In secondary school, I followed this love by studying restoration, joinery, and furniture carving, and I’ve never looked back.
What makes the design of Willis & Gambier products unique?
The team work really well together to ensure that our products are not only practical, but also interesting. The heritage of our products – as well as quirky design features such as secret drawers and hidden tea trays – give our products a unique quality, which has become synonymous with the brand.
Can you briefly outline your design process?
We work to brief on occasion, but generally we go out and complete market research at shows and fairs. We then come up with a direction, and from there, ranges and collections are born. We create mood boards and sketches, followed by technical drawings and specifications. The time it takes to develop and create a piece varies. We aim to go from conception to delivery within a year.
As a designer, who or what are you inspired by?
Many things inspire me – life in general can be very inspiring. Fashion, architecture, interiors, new material and technology all play a role. I don’t focus on a single designer or a particular piece; I look at the wider spectrum of aesthetics and functionality. At the moment, I’m taking a lot of inspiration from the Victorian era, but adding a modern and functional twist.
Which of your designs are you most proud of and why?
I’m very proud of all my work, but my current favourite is our Kensington Burl dining range. The whole design process was fascinating and incredibly intricate – I used lots of new skills. The end result - and collection of products - is stunning.
Feeling inspired? Explore our fantastic collection of Willis & Gambier furniture.