British designer Sarah Kay has been designing and making things in wood since studying furniture craftsmanship at Parnham College in Dorset.
Today her work covers a broad spectrum from bespoke designs for private clients and public art commissions, to design consultancy for some of the UK’s most respected retailers of contemporary furniture such as SCP, Heal’s and Benchmark Furniture.
We caught up with Sarah to find out more about the design process she took to create her sixth Design Guild Mark award winner, Jethro for SCP.
What initially inspired you to design the Jethro?
The brief was to design a large dining table so initially my thoughts turned to harvest tables and refectory tables. Large Fellini-esque family gatherings kind of thing.
Explain its concept.
The thing about barn/refectory tables is that they typically use some kind of trestle construction and that is a neat way to circumvent mechanical fixings as the table must be flat-pack. It’s nice to draw on my background in furniture craftsmanship.
How have you struck the balance between function and design with this product?
There are two functional elements to the design. One is it’s assembly – the two leg frames are screwed on to the top and then secured with a timber brace that is held with wooden pegs. The other is simply a question of considering leg room and the overall proportions of the table.
Who does this design appeal to?
It’s quite classic and restrained so it would sit easily in most types of interior.
How long did the design process take, from initial sketches to roll out?
From initial drawings to the first prototype on show at London Design Festival took seven months.
What modifications did you make along the way?
Once we’d agreed on the general idea, I made a full scale mock up of one leg frame. This made me realise that I could increase the angle of the chamfer for more visual effect. I wanted the table to have a solid feel to it but at the same time not be visually heavy; the chamfer helps achieve that by creating a thin edge which contrasts with the broadness of the legs. I also mocked up the rail detail with the peg – that’s when I realised that I needed to put a flat on the round peg in order for it to fit snugly and provide a better grip.
In what way do you think this design is different from anything else available on the market?
It is a quiet design that is beautifully made out of solid ash or walnut. I think the level of detail and quality is a lovely thing to bring to a wider public.
What was the most challenging aspect of the design?
The challenge was at the beginning, creating a fuller brief for myself so that I could find a thread to pursue.
For more information, go to www.sarah-kay.com/