One of our longstanding favourite suppliers here at mydeco.com, Plant & Moss creates truly beautiful and unique furniture pieces. We’ve teamed up with them to offer you the chance to win their star piece, the Clamp Lamp (worth £210!) by entering our new design competition. They are looking for a 3D room design created based on the inspiration boards they use to create new pieces, and will select the winner when entries close at the beginning of May.
To help you get into the Plant & Moss frame of mind ready to create your design, we caught up with Managing Director James Moss and asked him a few questions about their products, techniques and favourite designers and pieces of the moment.
You have described your Clamp Lamp as a “champion product” – why?
‘The Original Clamp Lamp is our best selling design and has enjoyed favour with the press, shops and interior designers. The Clamp Lamp comes from a resourceful approach to design where we look at existing components and at how they might be utilised in our designs. It isn’t merely the use of the existing components that makes the product “a champion” but is also the way in which the components are successfully married together to produce a cohesive product. The Clamp Lamp has an interactive dimension to it, the way it clamps to a table has a playfulness to it which people like, the bright red of the clamp adds to this. Because of the success of the Original Clamp Lamp we have brought to fruition a couple of ideas from the sketchbooks – a side and table version; these two additions make use of the same red clamp base but with the metal rod in a different form and fabric shades soften the industrial feeling.’
You describe your pieces as crafted using ‘time-honoured skills and modern techniques’. Can you tell us more about your making process?
‘We have a workshop in the Plant & Moss Studio; we use the workshop for prototyping but also for making and assembly of some of our products. With some of our products and furniture the materials will come into the workshop and we will do all of the production here, with other products we will have components arrive from different local manufacturers which we will then assemble, and then with some pieces we will source a suitable manufacturer and they will make the whole product. It really depends what is the most viable option for us, both in terms of time, expense and also skill; with something like the Odd Couples bench it makes sense to utilise a skilled chair maker for production rather than to do it ourselves.’
We love that your products are made by hand. Is it important for you to create them this way rather than mass producing them?
‘We like to have products manufactured by hand, utilising the craft skills that are available to us. We aim to create personality within our work and producing by hand can often be a way to do this. It also adds to the exclusivity of a product with the knowledge that it has been handmade in Britain, people are aware that it holds a level of exclusivity and craftsmanship. We certainly wouldn’t write off the possibility off mass production, but I think that would create an interesting challenge to create a unique and personal product in this manner. We believe that there are the skills needed for much of the design out there, available locally, so rather than travelling a long way it is always best to look what is nearby first.’
Do you feel that making by hand using local expert crafters is still important in Britain?
‘The utilisation of time-honoured skills and modern techniques is a strong part in our passion for British manufacture but also is about production with integrity. One of our ranges that we have just introduced is the Akita Desktop Range, the brass and copper components are produced by a local metal spinner who spins by hand, the oak components are all hand turned in the West midlands and the concrete is cast in our own workshop using silicon moulds. It is good to support traditional industry and help keep it alive when so many designers and companies seek foreign production. We both moved to Birmingham from London to start Plant & Moss, this decision in part was because of the strong manufacture and industrial base that Birmingham and the West Midlands still is.’
Do you have plans to collaborate with any other other designers on other ranges? If so, what do you look for when choosing a designer to collaborate with?
‘Currently we have a couple of products which are done in collaboration with other designers. The Companion Stool is by Mark Hodge who we studied with at Bucks New Uni. The stool was done for the D&AD Awards for a brief set by Vitra and won the ‘Commendation’ accolade. It is a fairly archetypal three legged stool but with the addition on one of the legs there is a metal band with the stools date of birth stamped into it; the idea being that if you know the history and provenance of a product then you will appreciate and cherish it more.
Another collaboration we have done is with Japanese designer Tatsuya Akita. We saw his designs at New Designers 2011 and immediately loved the products. We now produce both the Akita Desktop Range and the Earthen Lamp. The desktop range consists of a table lamp, a tape dispenser and a pen stand. All three pieces are made from concrete, oak and brass or copper, it was really the relationship between the materials that drew us to the piece as well as the way in which they have been used. They have recently finished going through the product development process and are now available.
On these two collaborations the products were already in existence; we saw them, liked them and knew that they would fit with Plant & Moss. The reason we liked them was a mixture of narrative and intelligent use of materials. When we first started Plant & Moss we produced the mood boards that have been shared with mydeco.com for the competition; a basic definition of what we look for in a product is ‘a product that would easily fit into those mood boards and look at home in them’.’
We saw Plant & Moss at Interiors UK in January – do you have any tips for new young designers following in your footsteps?
‘I would recommend that young designers focus on getting their work out there and seen, design products that are intelligent and that you can produce easily if the demand is there.’
What do you look for when purchasing items for your own homes?
‘We both have several of our original prototypes in our homes, Clamp Lamps, Odd Couples Benches and the like. I also have the odd piece by other designers, the Crate Box by Jasper Morrison, the Mayday Lamp by Konstantine Grcic. I also have a collection of designer chairs. I guess I look for products that are well designed, that will age gracefully and which will last a long time.’
Which are your favourite interior trends at the moment?
‘It may be no surprise looking at our collection but I really like industrial interiors, red brick walls, iron girders, timber flooring and the like. In a way an interior which would perfectly fit our Plant & Moss taste.’
What’s on your wish-list for your own home?
‘For my home I would really like to have a set of bistro chairs and (we’ve just been developing it recently) the table to match, there is going to be a few variants for the table, one of the options will be stackable. I would love to have set in walnut. Besides Plant & Moss products I would like the Red Blue Chair by Rietveld… when I have the home for it I might set about making myself one.’
I'm the Editor of the mydeco.com blog, writing about the interiors that inspire me most. I love bright colour against neutrals, and have a soft spot for themed rooms. Quirky accessories are my favourite and I love nothing more than finding something bold and beautiful to make a room really stand out! Read more posts by Laura.