After hearing of Bodging Milano, Sarah James - the organiser of the Contemporary Craft Fair - invited Chris Eckersley, William Warren and Carl Clerkin to create a chair-making event for the 2011 Fair. Chris, Carl and William came up with The Great Windsor Chair Race - an impromptu workshop and light-hearted race to see who could produce the most, or the best, or the most innovative chair over the three-day event. The legendary British chair-makers ERCOL kindly donated a selection of components. The following explanation was given to those attending the show:
Who are we? We are Carl Clerkin, Chris Eckersley, and William Warren, and we are furniture designers.
What are we doing? During the three days of the Contemporary Craft Fair at Bovey Tracey, we will be making as many chairs as we can, inventing new designs on the spot, and making improvised variations on existing ideas, in the hope that something interesting may result.
How did this come about? Last year a group of us went for a week to the old ash woods of Herefordshire to learn the ancient art of ‘bodging’ - a.k.a. greenwood chair-making. We each made a chair and the whole collection was then exhibited at the Milan Furniture Fair, where it created a lot of interest.
What did we do next? A few months later we spent time at Dave Green's workshop in the Midlands where in three days we developed the woodland chairs into a range of fourteen production prototypes. Any piece from this range of chairs and benches can now be ordered through our website. Then, for London Design Festival last September, we were invited by Designersblock and the V&A Museum to present what we called The Fantastic Broomstick Bodge where, for one evening, assisted by members of the general public we made an improvised collection of benches, quickly created from ready-made turnings (we used broomsticks) for legs, and plywood for seats. For many people attending the event this was their first real experience of hands-on making.
What’s the point of it all? The point is to demonstrate how much can be learned through the act of making. We don’t know yet what will come out of this weekend’s activities; all we can say is that we’re optimistic about the unexpected!