The Middle Path Theory

by Giada Giachino

The ONE dining table, 2017

The ONE dining table, 2017

If you had time to read my previous posts, you would have probably understood my interest for designers who are able to be loyal to materials, to apply high artisanal skills in order to enhance them, and create something unique.

In this sense, I can say that Jonathan Fields really owns his materials.

ONE, his last project, is, in my opinion,  a real visual challenge: the design of the piece is fluid, like a continuous line on a blank piece of paper, everything flows in perfect balance between minimalism and craft perfection. At this point, this table could be an Artemide piece, or a clean and polished piece of powder coated piece of plastic, made in series of hundred. But here is the trick, and the devil is in the details: a closer look shows the veins of the ash strips that compose the desk, and it's like seeing a nature-made 3D grid. The features of this kind of hardwood are used to create something that, as a designer, I appreciate: a narrative.

In fact, you can easily understand that Jonathan is keen on wood, that he has been studying the material before making the piece, and that, at the same time, he believes in the harmonious casualty of nature, and its  perfection/imperfection is a feature of the project.

Jonathan Field is a brilliant designer with a past in illustration, from where he derived his obsession for the simple shape, patterns and colour, and a present as eye-sore-healer. Because, and it needs to be said, Design is the world of inclusion, where a table can be a blank use-driven desk or a theatrical piece of art, I believe that sometimes is nice to see something that in Italian I call Giusto Mezzo, the middle path, the balance between use and aesthetics, between artificial and natural, between past and future.

And this, in the Inclusive Design word, is a difficult job. 

I have asked Jonathan to answer my usual four questions and tell me more about his pathway.

The ONE dining table, 2017

The ONE dining table, 2017

Saying that the quality of your pieces of furniture is amazing would be redundant. That said, the aesthetic development looks really variegated
Which leitmotiv could you identify within you production? Is it about materials or production processes?

I think it’s the idea of having made the most of a piece of wood discovered in its natural rough state – revealing its beauty and the transformation from the raw material to a finished enduring piece – this never ceases to amaze me.

The materials often suggest to me ideas that I can put into a piece of furniture. Often these pieces are made for an exhibition or show, such as the ONE dining table for CDW. A client may buy one of these pieces or another may want me to take the idea in a different direction and this is also an interesting way to create a piece.

As maker how does your background research inform your practice? Is there anything you are particularly obsessed with?

The idea of chance meetings, the coming together of random grain patterns set within a clearly defined piece of furniture. An example of this is the ‘ONE’ ash dining table first shown at the Clerkenwell Design Week. The strips of ash are laminated together, each strip having a unique random grain pattern contrasting with the regimented spacing of the join lines and the overall shape of the table.

Who is your main target user? How do you market your pieces?

Many of my clients contact me after seeing my work at a friend’s house or at an exhibition. My gallery Connaught Brown is currently showing three pieces of my work in their summer show. I also have shown at the London Design Week and Clerkenwell Design Week. When a client first contacts me I encourage them to visit the studio, to see and touch the materials and hear our enthusiasm for what we do.

Where and how do you see your practice's future?

A bigger studio would be wonderful| At the moment when a project is finished, it either has to be delivered or placed in storage. It would also be nice to be able to position the finished piece in the middle of the floor and view it in the round!