James Howard tells us how going on the Student Industry Tour resulted in a Corian cabinet

Last month we caught up with James Howard, a furniture designer studying at Rycotewood Furniture Centre, while he was exhibiting at his end of year show.

James participated in our 2019 Student Industry Tour, which was sponsored by Festool. The tour gives young people who are interested in pursuing a career in the furnishing sector a broad understanding of how it operates.

This year the students visited Corian distributor CD (UK) Ltd, tool manufacturer Festool, retailer Furniture Village, bed manufacturer Harrison Spinks, contract furniture maker Knightsbridge and foam manufacturer Vitafoam.

James was so inspired by his trip to CD (UK) Ltd that he decided to design a drinks cabinet, the Penderyn Flow, using solid surface Corian, which is now being sold through retailer Cottonwood Interiors.

We sat down with James to find out more.

What initially inspired you to make this product?

I was always going to create a drinks cabinet as I like to drink a lot of different spirits and they usually come in interesting bottles. The Penderyn Flow was designed to showcase these bottles while storing them in an in effective way. After visiting CD (UK) Ltd on the Student Industry Tour, I enquired about being supplied some of cuts of Corian in which CD (UK) Ltd very kindly responded with the glacier white sheeting.

Can you explain the concept for the design?

Using a heat box I bent the Corian by hand to achieve different curves and then set it into red oak using a series of lapped joints.

How long did the design process take?

The design process was an on-going part of the project as I was changing small details along the way, sizes, profiles etc. These are difficult to finalise until the final making element, but the actual design process took two to three weeks while multitasking with other projects that were also on the go at the same time.

 What modifications did you make along the way?

During the design process I made a few changes from the drawing – I changed the upright post design from being two mitred sections for each upright, to a singular post that was thicker in comparison. This greatly improved the design and finish as it made the upright stronger and also better suited to accept the Corian bent sections.

Another element that I decided to change was how far the Corian sat into the uprights. Initially, I had the Corian set flush to the red oak, but I tested out how the material would look with it outset and with a 4x4mm chamfer on each edge. This gave the entire cabinet a sense of depth and texture which greatly improved the whole aesthetic of what I was aiming to achieve.

What was the most challenging aspect of the design?

I think the most challenging aspect of the process was joining each of the bent Corian sections into the lapped joints that were hand cut. In total, I needed to cut 30 joints and had to make sure each joint was within a tolerance to allow me to epoxy each of the Corian slats into place, because the Corian is non-porous so glue does not soak into the fibres, unlike wood.

James has recently secured a making role at Cottonwood Interiors. He said having my work on sale through Cottonwood Interiors is amazing – it’s quite surreal seeing a piece I have designed and made up for sale on an official webpage.

See more of James’s work on Instagram: @some_simple_bespoke

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