Gaze Burvill and Royal College of Art partner to take British Design into the future

Gaze Burvill was delighted to welcome 10 students from the Royal College of Art (Design Products course) for a day experiencing how Britain’s leading luxury outdoor furniture manufacturer balances cutting edge design techniques in a commercial setting.

Towards the end of 2016, two institutions forged a unique partnership with one another to forge forward together in functional design.

The Royal College of Art, notably recognised as the world’s leading design college, and Gaze Burvill, designers and manufacturers of fine outdoor furniture, were pleased to be able to not only partner for this project, but also to help educate the upcoming minds in design on the practicalities of designing in a commercial environment. Craftsmanship and the act of prototyping and making is deeply embedded in the Design Products programme.

The day came together after a serendipitous encounter between Dr Robert Phillips, Senior Tutor, Design Products at the Royal College of Art and Simon Burvill, Managing Director of Gaze Burvill at the New Designers Show on Roy Tam’s Plymouth University.

Both Simon and Robert were struck with the similarities between the 2nd year course program “Design through Making” and the current drive at Gaze Burvill to push the boundaries of what their 5 axis Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine could produce.

The two are working together on a platform project. The MA experience at the RCA is very student-centric in that they help each to pursue their own design agenda/goals according to where the students see themselves in the world.  The implication of this is that the brief would need to allow room for material / process experimentation and research without the necessity to deliver a commercially viable product at the end.

Simon was delighted to welcome the students to GB HQ where they got a full site tour, and were able to witness the steam bending of oak firsthand.

Gaze Burvill College

As well as an education into the reason GB use only the species Quercus Robur and Quercus Petrae, the students were given a detailed demonstration of Gaze Burvill’s state of the art 5 axis CNC machine. This setup allows the machine to function in almost the same way as a human hand would, bringing the various tools for cutting, drilling, sawing and shaping into contact with the wood from any conceivable angle.

The challenge laid down to the students was to see what practical, design led products they could conceive which drew from the art of steam bending, CNC technology and the use of wood as the prime material.

The students were given an introduction into the reasons behind the choice of Oak as Gaze Burvill’s primary material, then were given a tour of the workshop viewing the traditional craftsmanship blended with the CNC machinery. Finally each of the students had an opportunity to try their hand at steam bending oak.

College workshop

A few weeks later Simon travelled up to London to visit The Royal College of Art, the world’s leading university of art and design, to visit the students, see what they had worked on since their visit and review their progress alongside the course tutors.

It was clear that some students were thriving with projects showing real lustre, combining well thought out designs from concept through to initial product offering.

With designs from showers, through seating, to kitchen utensils, there was a wonderful array of structured thinking around the creation of a practical product.

The students now take on the critique of their tutors, with a view to bringing a final design to submit as part of their examinations at the end of the course.

Gaze Burvill wish all the students the very best in their exams and eagerly look forward to seeing how the products evolve.

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