In her 100-year-old tin tabernacle studio in Devon, founder and designer Vicki Turner has found a place where she enjoys being creative
Vicki Turner, 36, is founder, designer and wood finisher at Feist Forest. After completing a degree in Product and Furniture design she went travelling and it wasn’t until 14 years later that she returned to her hometown of Devon to start her own business. Working with other designers and furniture makers, she is now happily creating products that are.
Where did you grow up and how has your childhood inspired you?
I grew up in a small cottage in the sticks of North Devon. With our parents juggling work and renovating our crumbly cob cottage, we made our own fun by making anything we could, from whatever we could find from dens to tyre swings. I’ve no doubt my childhood influences so much of what I do today.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Working as an illustrator and designer, I use a range of materials, yet I always aim for an aesthetic that’s simple and honest with a strong sense of balance.
What inspired the name Feist Forest?
The word ‘feist’ captures the brave, energetic and independent spirit of those who inspired this journey and ‘forest’ is not purely as a reference to the origin of the materials, but also the idea of balance and togetherness.
Can you describe your studio and its location?
It’s a tin tabernacle, a 100-yearold flat pack church which is based between Exeter and Dartmoor in Devon. When I found it two years ago it was in a sorry state, rusty, rotten and wobbly, yet I dreamt of bringing it back to life as a studio. So, I made the leap! With the help of local woodworkers, my family and two years of hard work, I recently moved in.
How much have you travelled and how has this inspired your ideas and outlook on design in general?
Travel has given me a sense of perspective and focus; it also introduced me to inspiring folk who were digging deep and choosing to do things differently and responsibly, tackling social and environmental problems head on. This gave me the motivation to return and launch Feist Forest, designing products that are built to last, using sustainable materials and collaborating with local, talented and independent makers.
What is your favourite part of the design process?
I enjoy the challenge of fixing problems, from the initial ideas, the testing to the finished item.
Can you tell us about your thought process behind your tables and why they are such a staple piece of furniture?
The humble table is where the idea for Feist Forest started. While I was away it naturally gathered people. Stories and ideas revealed across it, things made and sculpted upon it, and each time bringing together curious people and conversation. I hope we can always build work tables (if it’s what people need) helping to bring mind and hand to action and delivered with a tale or two - and going on to collect many more.
Every product of yours has a story. Is there one particular favourite or memorable story behind one of your pieces that you can re-tell?
Interestingly, the Loop D’Loop collaboration was all thanks to Instagram. Myself and Flora Jamieson – a stained glass artist – have been Insta-pals for years; without this app, it’s unlikely our paths would of crossed. Yet today it’s great that many curious crossovers and experiments can happen. From my original paintings, Flora worked on translating the four concepts into contemporary lead and glass light catchers and shadow makers.
Where do you source your wood from?
From here in the UK. We work with the Sutton Brothers who source our sustainably grown ash and share the location and name of where our wood originates.
Are there any materials you haven’t worked with yet that interest you?
I’m looking forward to collaborating with the Devonshire studio, Solidwool soon. Designers Justin and Hannah make a beautiful and strong composite material using UK wool and bio-resin.
Can you tell us about your latest collaboration with Miscellaneous Adventures for the Cherry Wren snack cups?
Yes, I loved working on this project. I’ve long admired Miscellaneous Adventures, with their strong affinity for nature and adventure, so was chuffed to get the opportunity to work with Andrew. Knowing we both had visiting Wrens to our studios, I worked up the design and sourced some locally grown Cherry. Andrew carved the tail feather spoon, while Mike turned the body, so when pieced together it formed a functional studio companion to serve up snacks, such as seeds or chocolate eggs by the dozen.
There are two very exciting collaborations and a new piece of furniture that myself and maker and carver Ben Algar are working on, so keep your eyes peeled for that in the near future.
Article by: EKBB