“Obsession with constant innovation and refinement creates a depth and a richness which we are always striving for in our work.” Callum Robinson, Creative Director at Method Studio (@MethodStudio), one of Walpole’s 2018 Brands of Tomorrow.
LC: What was the inspiration for Method Studio and what’s the trajectory been?
CR: Method is very much a family company. I learned to work with wood from my father – who is one of Scotland’s most renowned master woodcarvers and makers – and latterly worked with him for over a decade. In 2007, I serendipitously met Marisa, an architect and design lecturer, convinced her to run away with me, and travelled the world. By the time we returned in 2009 we were set on starting our own creative practice, and also getting married! Economically, it was a really tough time to start up, and we struggled in the first couple of years. But that hunger to make our mark, and to create bespoke, handmade work which was elegant and thoughtfully designed, drove the studio and workshop to produce some really exciting work.
LC: What happened after that? How did things grow?
CR: In those first years we were commissioned to design and make the first original bespoke furniture for the Glasgow School of Art since Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and some very special, Internationally exhibited showpieces for Vacheron Constantin and Johnnie Walker.
At the time, with the world financially reeling, I like to think there was something reassuringly tangible and authentic about well-crafted objects that would last a lifetime. This inevitably bled through into the world of luxury PR and marketing, and because of this we were fortunate enough to be able to design and build some remarkable (and often very outlandish) projects, which perhaps otherwise might not have happened.
Soon we began to specialise in unusual bespoke projects, often for luxury brands, which necessitated marrying several different traditional crafts and materials (woodwork, leatherwork and engineering etc) with the design practices and project management elements of a modern agency. An industrial leatherworking factory, complete with 80-kilo Singer sewing machines on hydraulics, fitted into a tailor-made series of Louis Vuitton style leather-clad trunks springs immediately to mind! And this is something which very much continues at Method, alongside more traditional bespoke furniture and objects.
LC: What are you particularly passionate about with regards to sustainability and how does that manifest in your brand / the way you work?
We use a lot of timber in our work. Particularly Scottish hardwood, which has a great deal of character and must be carefully milled and dried. It’s a magical material with which I’ve had a long relationship, and we try hard to be considerate and thoughtful with it.
Not all hardwood is super-rare of course, and it’s virtually all sustainable these days. But it is still a very precious, finite resource, and requires a lot of time and energy to produce. Sadly, I think that a great deal of it is used rather recklessly in furniture and interiors today without being properly considered. As a company straddling both business-to-business and private sales, we have also seen a lot of this kind of ‘buy it then bin it’ short-sightedness in the commercial world; attention spans are short and fashions are fickle. Fortunately however, there are is an increasing trend across the board to invest in things which will last. Long may it continue!
LC: Can you say a bit about your production line – where the pieces are made and how?
CR: Method is a close-knit team of designers, inventors and makers, but the filter – and first point of contact – is always Marisa and myself. We meet with clients, both internationally and at our workshop and studio in the woods, and work hard to develop a fundamental understanding of their values and needs, as well as what makes them smile. We take it very personally, and continue to stay closely involved with the clients during the entire process, to make it as enjoyable and hands-on as possible (if you’ve called us, chances are you’ve got an interesting project in mind, and it’s our goal to make it as much fun and as much of an experience as possible). This attention to detail and slightly playful attitude, which very much carries through into our design philosophy, builds strong, long-lasting working relationships.
Our team of makers collaborates with a trusted network of artisans around the UK (sawmills, stonemasons, engineers, leatherworkers and foundries etc) to create the individual components from the finest of natural materials, which are then meticulously composed in-house. We also work with photographers and film-makers to create unique documents of these remarkable stories, adding value and longevity to the journey.
LC: I’m interested in the cross-pollination of skills and the arts in what you do. Can you tell us a bit about that?
CR: We’re all about those details! In the past, we’ve drawn from the subtlest multi-functional strap details on vintage travel trunks to elements of monstrous skyscraper-dampers (the essential pendulums which stop tall buildings from blowing down) to find the answers to problems that to most people wouldn’t even seem to be there. This obsession with constant innovation and refinement creates a depth and a richness which we are always striving for in our work.