Since 2008, Thomas Coward has worked across a wide range of disciplines to create products, furniture and spaces that speak to the relationships between people, objects and places. Beginning his career in bathware design, Thomas has evolved his practice to include interiors, furniture and homewares and is now the Creative Director of Artedomus and New Volumes.
TLP: Can you tell us about your body of work and how it came to be?
TC: I studied furniture design in London and started exploring bathroom furniture 20 years ago. It was, and still is, an area of vast opportunity for design. In more recent years, I have started exploring more traditional items of furniture. I’ve been conscious about creating a body of work that doesn’t corner me into a style or particular aesthetic. I like to have an invisible fingerprint on the work, so it speaks its own individual language rather than my own.
TLP: Tell us a bit about your process. Do you do a lot of research or is your method more instinctive?
TC: Yes, I research as much as possible. But really, when working with a new material, I find the best approach is to talk to the experts – the manufacturers – and then find a way of doing something just outside and beyond the norm. Just off-piste is a fun place to be – even if it’s for my own satisfaction.
TLP: What is your design philosophy?
TC: I always ask if something deserves to be made – it has to justify its own existence. I also like doing things that may not appeal to everyone. Bolder statements can seduce some and be off-putting to others. Seduction is the most compelling method we have to create strong connections with products. Those connections can ensure a product is treasured for several lifetimes.
TLP: Where do you find the inspiration to create?
TC: Memories, forms, feelings and opportunities.
TLP: What helps when you’re feeling uninspired or stuck?
TC: I find the best approach for me is to set a project down for as long as possible. Solutions and inspiration find themselves. If that doesn’t work or timelines are looming, change the parameters. Indecision is worse than the wrong decision.
TLP: What sets you apart as a designer?
TC: I don’t think of myself as just a designer. Of course, I design products, but that’s just a part of what I’m doing creatively. Marketing, brand strategy, getting a product to market and every-thing involved with that. I don’t think I’d be satisfied if I was solely designing products. I think one thing feeds the other.
TLP: How do you wish your work to be experienced?
TC: I would only wish that someone loves something enough to not discard it. Or when they do, they do so thoughtfully.
TLP: Can you tell us about your other interests outside your creative practice?
TC: I love horror and science fiction artwork and illustration. I’m into Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo, and the work of Clive Barker. He was an accomplished artist as well as author.
TLP: What’s next for you?
TC: I’m starting a home design project, which I’m working on with my partner, artist Olivia Leigh Morris. I’ll be using it as a research opportunity to explore new materials and typologies. On top of this, I’m excited about working more overseas with distributors and opening new markets for our products.