Artist Interview

Chichester Art Trail Artists

A studio interview with Ed Johnson

My daughter, Ellen, usually accompanies me on the Artist Interview visits, as it was originally her idea to start the feature. But this time, the spark was my husband Terry’s cajoling; he was itching to visit Ed’s workshop to see his beautiful, creative craftsmanship in wood. Here is what we saw, and Ed’s answers to our questions clearly indicate how much he loves and lives his work.

Edward Johnson is an award winning contemporary furniture designer-maker combining outstanding craftsmanship & engineering to create beautiful handmade bespoke and limited-edition furniture.

This time next week, you can see Ed at  Venue 82 on the Art Trail 2018. To see more of the wonderful work that will greet you, visit  www.ejbespokefurniture.co.uk

... the workshop facilitates and bridges the gap between the unknown and the possible.
Nicola Hancock

What is your ‘workshop’ to you?

Ed Johnson

It’s like a limitless library, its just the best resource ever. I have both drawn and been given drawings of designs that at first seem impossible, however, with a lot of thought and prototyping, we’ll usually find a way of manufacturing them. I guess the workshop facilitates and bridges the gap between the unknown and the possible. If we put our mind to it, we can make virtually anything.

Ed5-5
Nicola Hancock

What is your normal day in the workshop like?

Ed Johnson

Lights on, kettle on, and check that my fellow cabinet makers are clear on what needs doing for the day. Nowadays, more of my time is spent in the studio and visiting clients, but I also still work at the bench especially when we have complicated projects on. My typical day involves keeping the team busy, whether that is designing the next project, selecting timber and materials, producing production drawings, problem solving and project management or hands on making. My list is long and varied.

Ed1-8
Nicola Hancock

What projects are you working on at the moment in the workshop?

Ed Johnson

We have a stunning two-part desk, which consists of some integrated storage and a sculptural free-standing desk that metaphorically speaking, dovetail into each other. We have graduated the materials from dark fumed oak to brown oak. We’re just doing the finishing touches now, before the four coats of oil are added. The desk will be professionally photographed, and can be seen on the website www.ejbespokefurniture.co.uk

Ed4-6
Nicola Hancock

When you are creatively lost or frustrated how does your workshop environment inspire you?

Ed Johnson

Umm, can I say that it doesn’t! I suppose it always inspires me, but when I’m creatively lost or frustrated I can guarantee it is because I’m overloaded with business matters. I’m very aware that I struggle to design unless I’ve cleared my schedule of admin and business management tasks. I’m the type of person who needs to clean the kitchen before I start cooking. The new studio however is a dream to work in – it’s been a while in the building, but I have all my sketches, samples and portfolio all around me, I draw a great deal of inspiration from it. When I’m in the right head space.

Ed3-7
Nicola Hancock

What time of year, or day, do you most enjoy in your workshop?

Ed Johnson

We are in a very rural setting, so we see the extremes of all the seasons. The workshop is bloody freezing in the winter – so I’d have to say Spring, Summer or Autumn. Don’t tell the team but the time I like the most is when I’m on my own. I get to think and do what I want to do, and not what needs doing.

Ed7-3
Nicola Hancock

You clearly LOVE wood! What is your favourite wood, and why?

Ed Johnson

Fumed oak, brown oak and olive ash, although I love whatever works for the design. I think the earthiness of oak and ash inadvertently reign in some of my flamboyant designs otherwise they could be a bit kitsch.

Ed10-25
Nicola Hancock

What is your most loved tool, or piece of machinery, and why?

Ed Johnson

Put your geek glasses on… definitely my bandsaw with its carbide tipped blade, it cuts 30cm thick boards like butter. Watch your fingers though!

Ed6-4
Nicola Hancock

Which pieces do you enjoy making the most? 

Ed Johnson

Anything that challenges me. I have three collections of work, all aesthetically different but routed in their challenging manufacturing process. And of course, curves.

Ed9-24
Nicola Hancock

If you could make your dreams come true, how would you change your workshop?

Ed Johnson

To be able to just design and make – to hand over the finances, the purchasing and HR. I’d also buy my own workshop, preferably with an entire glass front looking out to sea. There would be strictly no weekend work, so I could enjoy time in my garden. Back to reality, I’m very lucky where I am and happy with it.

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