With his angular forms and palette of zingy hues, furniture designer Gavin Coyle is one of the true stars of Walthamstow’s design scene. What’s most striking about his approach is a constant drive to innovate – he’s constantly adding new functional elements to old classics and reimagining tradition ideas of how a piece of furniture needs to look and work. Take his Contrail chair for example: instead of conventionally attaching the backrest to the seat, Coyle’s design perfectly balances it as an attachment to the arms. It’s a feat of poise and engineering, and its z-shape form looks so slick. With a collection for iconic design store Heal’s imminent, rest assured you’ll be hearing a lot more about Coyle’s work in the coming months. We caught up with E17’s best kept secret to find out more about his practice and what to expect from his Art Trail show.
How would you describe your approach to designing furniture?
I aspire to make furniture which is practical and beautifully made. My aim is to create products which make strong emotional connections expressed through unpretentious forms and provide a quiet, enduring presence in the home.
What inspires you?
I don't need to travel too far to be inspired. I'm fortunate to know a diverse range of craftspeople practicing in the area, from saddlers, metalsmiths to glassblowers and potters. Just watching these people work and the techniques they use generates ideas that feeds back into the work I produce.
Tell me about a project that you’re particularly enjoying working on at the moment?
I'm very excited to be working on a range of tables for Heal’s. The company is over 200 years old and has a very proud heritage which embraced the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement. Even today they are still dedicated to nurturing the talents of UK based designer-makers.
What is it about wood that makes it a favourite material?
My dad was a keen amateur woodworker and from an early age I was encouraged to potter about in his shed and make things. I was fascinated how a seemingly rough piece of timber can be worked to reveal something beautiful. My fascination with this material has never diminished.
How long has your studio been in Walthamstow and how does this part of London influence your work?
The practice has been based in Walthamstow for three years. As a student I was introduced to the ideals of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement so it feels like my spiritual home.
What can people expect if they visit your studio during the art trail?
Alongside our own work we have an exhibition of some of the best furniture designer makers from the local area. It’s also a chance to have a peek in our studio/workshop and have a chat with a few of the makers.
Laura Snoad is a London-based freelance journalist specialising in design, arts and culture.