Designer Pierre Greenway spent many years in various parts of the industry, from SFX for film, fabrication for fine artists, architectural and product modelmaking to fine furniture and woodwork, prior to establishing his studio ‘The Workshop’ in 2018.
While working as head of an architectural model shop, Pierre still finds time to spend doing what he loves, designing products, working with wood and creating pieces that can be passed through the generations.
One of those products, the Kenilworth Chair, which Pierre describes as ‘an ode to Danish mid century and English engineering’, was awarded a Design Guild Mark in the Furniture category in 2021.
We spoke with Pierre about his career to date and find out more about what makes him tick as a designer.
Who is your design hero?
Finn Jhuul is up there on the leader board, along with Hans Wegner. I also have to give a mention to design stores HAY and Firm Living, as they are absolutely on it right now.
When did you first decide you were going to be a designer?
I guess I formed my opinions on what I thought looked nice from my early teens – shape, form, balance, colours, texture and feel (etc). I knew what I liked and, although opinions change in life as they do, the fact I could form those opinions is when I knew I had to be involved in the lovely objects I was looking at, and the world of design.
What was your first big break in the industry?
I wouldn’t call it a big break, but when I designed and made my first piece of furniture and held it in my hands is when it all changed for me. The journey from idea to concept development, prototyping and final product is emotional and challenging to say the least, but once you’ve overcome the hurdles and have a finished piece you’ve put your everything into is a great feeling – I knew I had to carry on.
What was the first product you ever designed?
I’ve been making little products for many years, so there are loads, but I think the first ever product I sold was a wooden Macbook case made from offcuts I had lying around the workshop.
What do you enjoy about being a designer?
I absolutely love everything about being a designer and the design world itself. Working in the architecture industry really formed a base for me to understand designers – architectural, product, furniture, fashion, the list goes on. It’s given me open access to many designers, and from that I’ve had the opportunity to fall in love with many different designs.
What is the most frustrating aspect of your job?
The hardest part of design is making decisions. ‘If I go this way, will it be this, if I go that way, will it be that…’. It’s hard to make decisions sometimes, which is why it’s so important that designers, makers and creatives have some sort of community to bounce off.
Which design are you most proud of?
I can’t answer this is as I don’t have one per se, but I designed and made the Kenilworth Chair specifically for our first house, and just before my son was born, which is probably the most important (and romantic) reason I’ve had to do anything. It will always remind me of the change in my life when one became three.
What is your creative process?
To be honest, for me it’s hard to get in the mood to design. It’s not something you can get ready for, or start doing – it comes as, and when it wants to. With that said, I’m very seldom not thinking about what I’m currently designing or making. So much so that solving current design problems and ‘how will I do that?’ is what lulls me to sleep at night.
What influences you?
Science, technology, films and, of course, the natural world. The world around us is endlessly inspiring but often, the most generative ideas and inspirations come in whispers. It is important to me to be attuned and sensitive to the quieter but no less significant details in culture and life that fire up my imagination and lead to exciting design journeys.
Is there a product you wish you’d designed?
There are many products I wish I had designed. Products like the Peacock Chair by Hans Wegner, the hunter Chair by Børge Morgensen, the PH5 lamp by Poul Henningsen and even the Haze Vitrine Cabinet by Ferm Living. I’ve been thinking about designing a lounger to be honest, which will be an ode to the Hunter Chair, but I will keep you posted on progress…
For more information about Pierre Greenway, go to https://www.pierregreenway.com/