Bodging Milano originally came about when artist and designer Chris Eckersley was asked to design a chair for the Midlands furniture company Sitting Firm. The resulting chairs (called 'Arden') were a modern development on the standard English Windsor Chair.
Later on Chris came across Gudrun Leitz's chairmaking courses and thought he should research green-woodworking (a.k.a 'bodging') to see what it was all about. He sent some pictures back from the woods to Rory Dodd at Designersblock, who said: wouldn't it be great to do something like that and present it at the Salone del Mobile in Milan? So Bodging Milano was born. Gudrun agreed to begin her programme of courses a week early, Chris rounded up his furniture friends, and before we knew it there was a group of designers assembled at Clissett Wood in deepest Herefordshire, and ready to bodge.
That was in 2010. From what we thought was a one-off project, Bodging Milano has developed a life of its own, generating an increasingly wide range of experimental activities. For London Design Festival in 2010 we presented The Fantastic Broomstick Bodge at the V&A, and in 2011 we set up the annual Great Windsor Chair Race at the Contemporary Craft Festival. In 2012 William Warren instigated a project whereby some of the team created new designs for Lloyd Loom of Spalding, Gareth Neal got on his bike back to Herefordshire In Pursuit of Carbon Negative, and the great Japanese chairmaker Koji Katsuragi came over to join our new group of designers for Bodging Milano 2. 2013 saw a major retrospective exhibition at the Harley Gallery, complete with an extensive catalogue containing essays by participants in the project, and a hands-on chairmaking event for the public : Putting the 'H' back into Worksop. In 2015 we created The Great Heal's Bodging Race during which we worked for a week in the front windows of Heal's flagship store on Tottenham Court Road, as part of their Modern Craft Market 2015 and we were invited back in April 2016 for round two of the 'race'. Bringing things up to date: during 2017 and '18 Chris Eckersley and Gareth Neal collaborated on a set of bodge-inspired furniture for the RC Church of Our Lady of Victories, Kensington; in 2018 we were joined by our old friend and fellow designer Alex Hellum for Hole & Corner at Daylesford Organics, followed by a chair-making event at MESSUMS Wiltshire. And for 2019 some members of the team will take the art of bodging to Glastonbury Festival.