The British capital is alive with creative talent. Helen Brocklebank, CEO of Walpole, sets the scene, while we encourage you to visit London’s finest makersRead More
Wallpaper magazine visited Blok gym in Shoreditch and loved the design. We made the cafe and practise room furniture, designed by Daytrip Studio.
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One to Watch: Juan Junca
We speak to furniture maker and Hothouse17 participant Juan Junca
Juan trained in traditional cabinet making techniques. He focusses in freestanding solid wood furniture, making his own designs as well as bespoke commissions.
Juan has been selected for Hothouse, the Crafts Council's Talent Development Programme for emerging makers. Find out more about Hothouse
What first got you interested in making?
About four years ago I was working independently as a musician/producer and had a day job as a handyman for a property refurbishing company. I found I was enjoying doing something practical and specially working with wood, so I decided to train as a furniture maker. The Fine Woodwork course at The Building Crafts College was a perfect choice.
What in particular drew you to wood?
There is its appeal to our senses, which I feel intensely, but also, with the material come the tools, techniques and things you make with it and those will suit different people. Wood, for example, not only feels entirely different to metal but it is also worked differently. Heating up a piece of metal in the forge and hammering it is quite a different thing to taking shavings of wood with a spokeshave. So I am drawn to the material by its properties and by how it is worked.
Where have you shown / sold your work so far?
I was at New Designers 2015, as part of the graduation show with The Building Crafts College, last year at 100% Design as a nominee for the Wood Awards, and at New London Architecture’s WRK/LDN exhibition together with Building BloQs . I sell my work online and do commission work for clients in London mostly.
Which project are you most proud of so far and why?
I’m proud of different projects for different reasons. From a technical and aesthetic point of view my Milena chair is the obvious choice. The joints in a chair are very complex and achieving a strong structure with a delicate look is a difficult task. I also taught myself how to weave for this project.
I’m very proud of my RLP chair as well but for a reason that isn’t so evident when you look at it. It was a design challenge with time and technical constraints. From the moment Building BloQs approached me for the project I had only ten days to design and make it, it was my third design for a chair, and I had to make it in a window display without the chance to prototype it first.
What do you hope to get from Hothouse?
I would like to gain knowledge on how to develop a creative business. This is an entirely different set of skills to those that we learn as makers and both are essential in order to run a successful business. I would also like get new opportunities to show my work and help me establish my brand.
The designs first strike me as having a clear and classic aesthetic, who are your inspirations and how does your interest in mid-century furniture translate into your work?
Thank you. I’m mostly inspired by designers and craftsmen from the late 19th century onwards, from William Morris, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Antoni Gaudí to Hans Wegner and Finn Juhl. I like the natural shapes and the hand-craftsmanship of their designs.
You work from open workshop Building BloQs, how important has working in this way been to establishing your business?
It would have been impossible to start up without it. The key is that workshop rent, which is very high in London, isn’t a fixed expense when you have a pay as you go workshop. And you don’t need to make the investment in heavy machinery because it is all there. Equally important is the fact that it is also an invaluable source of shared knowledge, human resources and work as well. The spirit of this space aligns with my view of creative work in terms of reciprocity and collaboration. We are all looking forward to the future expansion into the largest open access workshop in Europe, with the goal to be able to process any material.
How does the process of making self-initiated work differ from a commission? Do you have a preference and why?
I like the freedom of choice I have with self-initiated work, but also find that a brief drives me. It sets limitations upon this freedom of choice by specifying a budget, time scale, the utility of what you are required to make, etc. It becomes more of a problem solving exercise, addressing a client’s specific needs. The ideal situation is those commissions where the client comes because they like my own design aesthetic.
You can see more work from Juan and follow him at the Craft Council Directory
Hot off the press - our Hothouse 2017 makers
Ones to watch
We’re delighted to announce the 35 maker businesses that have been selected for Hothouse 2017.
Hothouse is a creative and business development programme for up-and-coming makers. It has established itself as the gold-standard professional development programme over the last seven years. Over the last six years more than 200 makers have benefitted from the programme with over 90% of makers saying it has enabled them to think differently about the direction of their career.
This year nine jewellers, six ceramists, six textile makers, three glass makers, and five furniture makers will go through the programme across the UK with Craft Scotland funding the places of makers living and working in Scotland.
So here they are ….
Amanda Priest, Anita Carnell, Anya Kovalieva, Charlie Birtles, Charlotte Wilkinson, Chloe Smith (Casabi Designs), Christina Hesford, Elizabeth Jane Campbell, Emma Johnson, Eva Fernandez, Forest + Found, Francesca Rossi, Harry Morgan, Juan Junca, Juli Bolaños-Durman, Julia Rushworth, Karolina Baines, Kate Haywood, Lauren Bell-Brown, Line Nilsen, Majeda Clarke, Mariam Syed, Matthew Duckworth, May Wild Studio, Mella Shaw, Miriam Griffiths, Rachel Butlin, Rosie Deegan, Ruth Leslie, Sarah Hitchens, Sophie Southgate, Tim Evershed, Tim Summers, Tropezar, and Verity Howard.
This year the Crafts Council is partnering with 24 organisations across England and Scotland to deliver Hothouse.
City of Glasgow College, Craft Central, Craft Scotland, Crafts Study Centre, Craftspace, Creative Lancashire, Design Event, Design Factory, Design-Nation, Fife Contemporary Art & Craft, London Metropolitan University (CASS Faculty of Art Architecture & Design), Manchester Craft and Design Centre, Manchester School of Art, Middlesex University, New Ashgate Gallery, Nottingham County Council, Nottingham Trent University, Plymouth College of Art, The Bluecoat Display Centre, The Jewellery School at Birmingham City University, The National Centre for Craft and Design, University of Brighton, University of Central Lancashire, University of Dundee, and Yorkshire Artspace. Promotional partners include Arts Thread, and Etsy.
As part of a new series celebrating the overwhelming diversity of products being made in London, we spoke to our first resident maker Juan Junca about his business and what London has to offer.
What do you make? What inspires your work?
I make furniture – chairs, tables, cabinets and also fitted furniture like wardrobes. The material itself, wood, is very inspiring. It has great character and can even dictate a lot of what you do with it. I like the shapes created by natural erosion as well.
How, where and when did you start making furniture?
Three years ago I decided I needed a ‘Plan B’ and wanted it to be about producing something tangible. Most of all, I wanted to have work. I signed up to the Fine Woodwork course at the Building Crafts College, and then got experience working for a couple of businesses before starting my own.
What does a typical day involve?
It’s full on when you work for yourself. You design, order materials, make, sell, organise deliveries, do installations on site and keep your books. It’s never boring. When I’m making a new piece I first use heavy, stationary machinery for dimensioning and shaping wood and sheet material, then move on to power and hand tools to complete.
Where do you work day to day?
I rent a bench at Building BloQs, a ‘pay-as-you-go’ workshop. It’s a perfect environment, full of professional equipment and good, hard working people with an immense combined set of skills. (The food at the café is excellent too!)
Has the space you use changed over time?
The whole area around Lea River in Edmonton, where Building BloQs is located, is being redeveloped. Fortunately, the plan addresses the need for workspace, specifically for light industrial uses. Building BloQs will move to a larger space within this development, becoming the largest open workshop in Europe.
What benefits have you experienced through working in London?
There are three main benefits. A big, affluent market, with international potential. Abundance of material and human resources. And one of the most important scenes in the world of design.
What challenges have you faced producing work in London?
There is a lack of affordable workshop access, especially for start-ups and in my specific field, which requires large spaces for machinery, production and assembly, and storage.
Do you see your business expanding or moving?
I have just started but with the possibilities that London offers I am optimistic about growing.
Juan is NLA’s resident maker until Friday 5 November