November 5, 2015
Forest and Found
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
We knew straight away that our name had to reflect what was at the heart of our business. It has always been about our relationship to the outdoors and particularly to the forest, so it was a definite that ‘Forest‘ had to be the starting point. We then wanted something that would reference our methods of working and approach to our craft. Foraging for dye plants and locally sourcing timber has always been central to the way we gather materials to work with so ‘Found‘ quickly became a direct reference to this. We haven’t ever set ourselves strict limitations or have a heavily structured business model, instead we prefer to let the business grow organically finding new opportunities and avenues through direct contact with like minded people. ‘Found‘ also became the perfect representation of how we work and run our business. Most importantly we wanted a name that felt warm and welcoming with a sense of adventure … hence Forest–and–Found!
Have you always been passionate about design?
We both have come from a Fine Art background where our interest in making always revolved around materials and how we experience objects. Design has always been on our radar but has never been the driving force of our practice. We almost fell into it accidentally while pursuing our interest in woodwork and textiles. Our starting point for approaching design is always informed by the materials we work with. The products we design and make always have function at their heart but our interest lies in how people interact with them and the relationships they form.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
After graduating in 2013 we felt a need to pursue our practice in making and directly working with our hands. We began looking at traditional methods of craft and the role of the craftsman/woman in contemporary society. We had always worked with wood while building sculptures so our research began there and we quickly started looking at carving and woodturning. An impulse purchase of a wood lathe meant we very quickly had to learn how to use it! We live and work in Walthamstow in East London and have Epping Forest on our doorstep so sourcing timber from the forestry management has been invaluable. Walthamstow also has a thriving textile industry and we are surrounded by textile shops. Having always worked with found objects and whatever materials we had to hand it was a natural progression to start looking at textiles. Having both made and stretched canvases for painting at college we were drawn to the most basic painters canvas and calico. This has remained our fabric of choice and to achieve the colours we were after we began hand dyeing all our textiles using natural plant dyes.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
When thinking about our business or discussing how we differentiate ourselves within the craft and design market we always return to our integrity to the materials we work with. We are looking for a ‘truth’ within our materials whether that is in their provenance and sustainability, or in the way they react and surprise us in the making process. We are always designing our products with the users direct experience of the object in mind. We aim to make products that offer something more through their touch or smell and the way they interact with the body. The way a spoon feels in the hand or a quilt warms your back are all considerations from the word go.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
Failures are part and parcel of the making process, we are always testing and pushing the limits of our materials. How thin can you go on the wall of a bowl before it cracks or what colour can be achieved from an unknown foraged plant? Often without the mistakes you wouldn’t have the discoveries. A cracked bowl can often be beautiful in its own right and an unattractive colour result can become a happy accident when over-dyed to produce an unexpected and beautiful shade.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
Weekends have definitely gone out the window and our social lives have often been put on hold. However we have discovered the most amazing network of friends and fellow business owners who make it all worth it so definitely no regrets!
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
We are probably most proud of our studio and workshop, which without we couldn’t have Forest–and–Found. We built it from scratch and it is the hub and centre of everything we do. It is currently going through an expansion as we add a new textile studio and a deck for natural dyeing. Our favourite moments of running Forest–and–Found are when people purchase our products. The novelty still hasn’t worn off and it is the most rewarding sensation when people walk away with something they will truly treasure.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
London has the most amazing galleries and museums which we regularly visit to get new ideas. It is one of the main reasons we are here and if we ever moved out of the city we would always return to catch new exhibitions. Our love of landscape and the outdoors has made us seek out London’s green spaces which exist in abundance. We have an allotment which is the perfect breath of fresh air and escape from the hustle and bustle. Being able to inhabit and cultivate your own patch of land within such a built up city is an opportunity we are so grateful for.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
Chelsea College of Art and Design where we both studied Fine Art runs a very independent BA course. It taught us the invaluable lesson of being self motivated and how to have a working practice we believed in and had the drive to pursue. As a result we are able to structure our days and be our own bosses. We know each others strengths and weaknesses which allows us to work very well together and to shoulder different responsibilities to spread the workload. We are also used to coping with self-doubt and how to work through issues within our own practice without feeling the need to give up and throw it all in.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
We had both worked several part time jobs throughout our time at University so when we graduated we knew we didn’t want to go back to that way of working. We found it tired us out so much that it sucked all creative energy out of the days we then had off. We were lucky to be living at home in London and with the support of our family around us we were able to make the transition to working full time on Forest–and–Found. Watching it grow and progress to a point that we can support ourselves has been the most amazing and rewarding experience and we will never underestimate the value of having a supportive family network when running your own business.
What are some inspirations for your work?
We think a lot about where our materials are from and how they relate to one another. Subtle relationships between wood and textiles can often be the catalyst for a new idea. If we are designing and making an object we want to know how it will then go on to be used within the home. We are always researching and looking at the way different cultures use vessels and utensils and how textiles play a role in the home. We draw a lot on Japanese ideas of frugality and the humble nature of the materials used. We have never been interested in making the most ornate and decorative objects rather we like the grain of the wood or the colour of a piece of fabric to speak for itself. The very act of making can be meditative and we’d like for our products to have the same effect when used. There are definite health benefits from living with simple, well-made and natural products.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Our advice to fellow makers is always to stick to your guns and to trust your instincts … 90% of the time they will be right and the other 10% you will learn from.