ARTICLE Nicole James PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy of David Trubridge
David Trubridge is an internationally acclaimed designer whose creations reflect a lifetime of inspired moments and observations. Hailing from England, David sailed across the Pacific with his family and now calls New Zealand home. While teaching at design workshops, he developed the Coral light and Body Raft recliner first showcased at the Milan Design Fair in 2000. After the successful sale of the world rights for Body Raft to Italian design house Capellini, David’s beautiful works and designs quickly became renowned world over. His workspace facilitates the production of these, and is the base for a highly skilled team.
How would you describe your workspace and team? Atmosphere, culture and unique edge?
I like to think it has a great atmosphere. No working hours are enforced as long as jobs get done on time. Anyone can take time off for themselves or their family whenever they want. The core team has been together for many years and we have all grown together to become a highly skilled specialised team who enjoy each other’s company.
What inspired the layout of the space you work in?
Like all architectural design it was a juggling act between conflicting demands of practical flow of working spaces, alignment with the site, natural light and views, accessibility and budget constraints. It also has to be comfortable, healthy and as energy efficient as possible. Our workroom has water-piped underfloor heating.
Where do you draw the inspiration for the pieces from?
From the New Zealand landscape and from our culture. Some designs have evolved from the patterns and structures of nature – others from human culture, such as the Three Baskets of Knowledge which depict an aspect of a Maori creation myth.
Are you able to briefly describe the design process?
The generative ‘art process’ happens in the in between spaces, the lapses, the digressions, the meditations, the flights of fancy; the ‘design process’ tries to gather and assemble these ideas logically into a structure; the ‘craft process’ then makes.
All three processes are totally interdependent and cannot happen without each other: you can’t design if you have nothing new to design with (or risk being derivative), and you can’t design what you can’t make.
What obstacles arise and how are they resolved?
Materiality intrudes – it is easy to generate drawings or digital forms but invariably the material doesn’t quite behave as expected and compromises follow. Experience with making helps avoid this. Actually the design process is a spiral where you go round and round juggling seemingly irreconcilable demands of form, structure, budget, material properties and availability and so on.
Hopefully the spiral diminishes into a central, resolved compromise. It is easier to create something amazing when cost doesn’t matter but the world isn’t like that. The challenge is to still be amazing yet affordable when all the amazing bits are the expensive bits.
Do you know if any celebrities have your work in their homes?
I don’t know. I just like to know that someone enjoys having my lights in their home – it doesn’t make any difference to me who they are.
What one piece of design advice would you give to first time renovators?
Don’t look around you – ignore trends – do what you believe in and stick with it. Fashion is just a con to get us to buy more stuff, not because we need it but because they need to sell it.
What is your favourite piece?
That I created? The Body Raft.
What’s next? Is there new development coming up in the business?
There sure is but you will have to wait for it!