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Meet the ercol Designers: Introducing Dylan Freeth

By ercol on 29 November 2018

Dylan Freeth
Dylan Freeth

From our beginnings in the 1920s to today, the ercol factory, showroom and design studio is British at its heart. This brand essence extends to our designers, who represent some of the best furniture design talent Britain has to offer.

In this post, we spoke with Furniture Designer, Dylan Freeth from the ercol inhouse design team. Since joining ercol in 2011, Dylan has received the Design Guild Mark three times from designing some of our trademark pieces in the Romana, Marino and Modulo collections.

Marino collection
Marino collection

Read on to get better acquainted with one of the many talented individuals behind the ercol brand..

When did you realise you wanted to pursue a career as a designer?

After A levels, I worked for a number of years in the printing industry designing page layouts. A walk around a second-hand furniture market in Paris got me thinking about a change of career.

Within a few months, I was enrolled on the Furniture Design and Realisation HND course at London Guildhall University (formerly the London College of Furniture). My initial aim was to be a designer-maker with my own workshop. I then did the Furniture Design for Manufacture BA, which introduced me to design for industrial production.

Have you always only designed furniture?

My main focus has been designing domestic furniture, but I’ve done a number of contract products for use in workplace environments too. I have also designed smaller products for the home, some lighting, children’s toys, accessories – quite a variety of things.

How long have you worked at ercol now?

I came here on a three-month temporary contract seven years ago!

What project are you most proud of and why?

The Modulo cabinets and the Lara stacking chair are my favourite designs for ercol. I like that Modulo can be used as a simple sideboard or be stacked and configured in lots of different ways using only a small number of components. It received a Design Guild Mark award in 2017.

Lara chair and Luca table
Lara chair and Luca table
Lara chairs
Lara chairs

The Lara chair was designed primarily for cafes and restaurants. It’s sturdy and minimal but also tactile, welcoming and affordable. I want some for my home…

What is your favourite part of being a designer?

I enjoy the whole process from initial sketch-development to seeing the finished product leaving the factory for delivery. The challenge is to design products that work well visually and functionally, that are production-friendly and long-lasting, and that people like enough to buy.

It’s very satisfying when you eventually reach the end of the development process and you (as one part of a skilled team) have managed to tick all those boxes.

Where does your inspiration come from for your designs?

Modulo cabinet
Modulo cabinet

I often build a design around the construction details – how components are going to join and fit with each other. Inspiration for that can come from anywhere.

A few days back I was cycling past some scaffolding on a building site which I took photos of. The way that structure was braced could perhaps develop into a shelving unit or table underframe one day.

What designers do you admire?

There are so many… But if I had to pick a handful of ‘heavyweights’ I’d go with Hans Wegner, Poul Kjaerholm, Achille Castiglioni, Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic, the Boroullecs…

How do you stay up to date with the latest fashions?

ercol is represented at trade fairs in the UK, Europe and the US each year. The ercol designers visit many of these fairs to get a sense of what is going on in the industry, see what types of timber are being used, and look at new finishes, colours and fabrics that are prevalent.

This awareness is important, but I always try to design products that will look good and work well many years from now, rather than being briefly fashionable.

Were you always aware of ercol furniture?  Which is your favourite piece of ercol furniture (current or historical)?

As a furniture design student, I saw a Margaret Howell advert in Blueprint magazine for the Butterfly chair, so I became aware of ercol early in my training.

My favourite piece is the Love Seat, designed by Lucian Ercolani in the 1950s. It is simple, sculptural and comfortable – I love it.

Originals love seat
Originals love seat

Get to know ercol

To watch the video of Dylan talking about the Modulo collection along with the Design Guild Mark please click below;

Video screen

Sketch Series: Modulo by Dylan Freeth X Ercol

Dylan is just one of the talented designers that make up ercol’s in-house design team. We also collaborate with an eclectic mix of designers from the UK and further afield. Find out more about our designers, our story and the ercol ethos.

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