Carl Turner

I grew up in the North of England (Hull and Leeds) where the thought of getting someone in to fix something was almost unheard of, let alone ‘design’ something. So I guess an attitude of do-it-yourself was deeply engrained into my psyche.

Studying at the RCA alongside product designers, furniture makers, painters and sculptors also had an effect. End of year shows filled us (Architects) with mild envy over the beautifully crafted products sitting on pedestals, surrounded by eager media and manufacturers queuing to buy / employ talented makers. Meanwhile bemused members of the public filed quickly through the Architecture show with confused and detached expressions.

Making a frankly ludicrous decision to set up in practice immediately after graduation, Cassion Castle and I soon realised that most of the work coming our way was small interior refurbishments and furniture commissions. We decided that we could only take on the work if we both designed and made the furniture as the budgets were tight. We also enjoyed the process of making stuff and there’s no better way to learn about design than though making.

In essence, we have gradually up-scaled this approach culminating in projects like Slip House, not making everything personally but acting as a contractor, cajoling and coercing sub-contractors to produce their best work with an innate knowledge of how far the limits can be pushed based on our own hands-on experience.

The act and detailed knowledge of making then begins to inform design decisions and outcomes. Sequencing of works, an understanding of drying times, shrinkage, when joints are required and so forth feed into your designer’s brain and underpins all conceptual detail decisions.

‘Fail early fail cheap’ is a much understood motto in the world of industrial design. Architects would do well to adopt it.