Words by Lucy Thomas
Award-winning British designer John Green blurs the lines between abstract innovation and practicality with his Scandinavian-inspired designs. He exhibits his furniture all around the world as his designs prove to be more artistic sculptures as opposed to conventional furniture pieces. This combination of functionality and innovation is what makes John Green and his designs so intriguing, alongside his hands-on approach to design that is seldom found in likeminded design studios.
This week, we caught up with John Green to talk about his design process, what makes something ‘iconic’, and the legacy of his famous Embrace table to get a real insight into his world of cutting-edge design.
No, I am able to work with companies all over the world. I enjoy having the opportunity to travel and my work has taken me to places including Singapore, China, Dubai, France and Italy this year. With the power of the internet, I really don’t think location matters.
My furniture is designed to be minimal, with clean lines and a conscious effort to be timeless.
My designs are mostly materials and process led. I’m by no means a traditionally trained furniture maker, but a big part of my design process is to make working prototypes. It’s through this process that I find and learn about new techniques which not only aid product development but inspire new designs.
My biggest inspirations, by far, are the Eames’ - I’m always blown away by their work and enjoy a trawl through their back catalogue from time to time.
I’m sure I do find inspiration from iconic designs, but it’s never intentional. Embrace was different. It was designed as part of a university brief to design a new version of the penguin donkey. I would never start my own brief in that way. I’ve always wondered “what makes a design iconic?” and even titled my University dissertation this. I never got the bottom of it but it’s an interesting discussion for sure.
It can start in a number of ways. Every project has been different so far. The idea could be a solution to a brief or learning about a new material or production technique.
I will always work through an idea in my sketchbook first, then go from sketch to CAD and CAD to workshop. Most of the development will happen in the workshop when making full-scale working prototypes. Once I’m happy with the final design I will return to CAD to apply any changes before sending the product out for production.
Practicality. If a piece of furniture is not functional then it isn't even furniture anymore.
The Panton chair. I remember visiting a design store whilst on a school trip and being told to pick my favourite chair, the Panton Chair was it and still think it’s a great product today.
I think customisability has a place with some pieces but not everything. It’s good to give customers options. I have previously produced bespoke pieces for customers based on my existing designs but I tend to avoid bespoke pieces as what I design is designed for batch production and not really suited to one-offs.
I’m no interior designer, but I’d say: 1.) Let the furniture talk, not the walls. 2.) Clean lines. 3.) Neutral colours.
An Eames lounger and Ottoman, but I’d have to have the house with the space and the view to make it work.
Although it’s a work in progress, I’d say it does reflect my style and ideas. It’s home to many of my prototypes.
It has to be Embrace, it was the first piece of furniture I designed, I designed it at University whilst studying product design and started selling it the same year I graduated. Embrace is the reason I do what I do today and it is still selling well 10 years on!
Shop and explore the entire John Green furniture range at OPUMO.
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