Over the past four months many of us have flippantly joked that 2020 should be scrubbed out, referencing the world events that have caused our jaws to figuratively, and maybe in some cases literally, drop.
Amidst the ensuing chaos, though, the world has kept turning and with so much uncertainty and negativity pervading life at present, it seems even more important to celebrate ‘good news’.
During one of our many scrolls through Instagram, a post from design practice Jones & Partners announcing that it had turned 20 in June caught our eye.
Jones & Partners was formed in 2000 and based at its studio in Clapham, South West London. In recent times it has complemented its capital presence by opening studio space in Brighton and Manchester. Over the past 20 years, the company has designed and manufactured more than 100 commercially successful projects for a list of over 30 product development clients globally, winning many awards along the way including multiple Design Guild Marks for designs like 2018 winner Thinking Quietly.
With the company unable to celebrate in the style that befits the occasion, we thought we would catch up with Craig Jones, founder and director of the company, so we could raise a virtual glass in celebration of the milestone and say here’s to 20 more.
Can you start off by giving us a brief history of Jones & Partners?
Following a year’s travel around the globe and eight years as an internal designer for various furniture manufacturers, in June 2000, I decided to venture out on my own. Setting up Jones & Partners was epic, fun, stressful and an inspiring journey with lots of unexpected twists and turns.
How does it feel to be celebrating two decades of the brand?
Very proud of the achievements to date and thankful of the support from our loyal client base, supply chain and design team. It has also been a time of reflection and change, improving our processes and ensuring we keep enhancing the quality of our work with our sights firmly set on a bright future. Last year we modified our approach to new project work, studio location and facilities. We are now getting used to life in our new Brighton studio located in the vibrant north lanes.
Where do you get your inspiration for new designs from?
Internally in the studio we describe it as joining the dots, some of those dots are blue sky concepts, aesthetics, technology, sustainability, material science and manufacturing. All of these things are connected, however none of this is linear. Blending these key elements is where we consider our core strength and our most notable product success stories have had these principles at the heart of their story. We always approach a client brief with this thinking as it helps with our creative process.
Describe the design process, where do you start?
Our design process has continually evolved over our 20 years and updated as we move forward with changing times. I have attached some slides to demonstrate this. But fundamentally our process is in four phases and each phase has a deliverable and prescribed outcome. We have a great online tool to support the management of this process. One thing we have learned in our 20 years is designers can be poor communicators. Project management, constant commercial consideration and feedback loops are very much at the forefront of our approach to mitigate the clients and our risk. Clarity, transparency, and honesty are required as new product development is not a linear repeatable process and these elements help to achieve a harmonious outcome.
Are there particular materials you like to work with?
Our involvement in materials is very extensive and at the forefront of our design experience. Our work always references materials, whether it is expanding the limitations of its current use, blending it with other materials or discovering new materials and scratching our heads to see what we can achieve with our new discovery. Our fantastic supplier chain supports us, testing materials and the evidence of these success are within our product portfolio.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought about major changes to our lives, particularly working from home. What impact do you think this will have on furniture design in the future?
We have already seen a merger across sectors, i.e. contract, retail, domestic. Working from home will condense these markets and throw up challenges across sectors that people had not considered. We have been working on solutions that I think may solve some of the longer-term problems and the results will be in the marketplace soon. Some of the key areas we think are of high importance are form vs function, price vs quality, scale, certification, aesthetics & materials. A cross pollination partnership across these sectors would be a great project to get involved on. We’ve very open and would love to try this.
Where do you see yourself in the next two decades and do you have any new ranges coming out next year?
Getting a bit older, wiser and enjoying the challenges of work continuing on for the next two decades are the key goals for now. As far as new things there are many new products to be launched all a little behind original schedule due to COVID-19. There should be around six to eight products arriving before Christmas, but this will somewhat depend on the pace of our customers as we work our way to normality. The new products are biodegradable cable management, Integrated battery technology for mobile furniture, acoustics, sports equipment training device and nomadic storage products.
For more information about Jones & Partners, go to https://www.jonespartners.co.uk/