Lovingly handcrafting objects for display or daily use, Abigail tells us how she and Max spend their days creating and experimenting
London-born makers Abigail Booth and Max Bainbridge, both 24, studied Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design where they worked in sculpture and installation. After graduating they set up their craft and design partnership Forest + Found in 2014 which was born out of their shared love of making. They work with traditional methods of craft to produce wooden objects and hand-stitched textiles.
How did you meet and when did you decide you wanted to work together?
We met while studying at Chelsea College of Art and Design where we shared a studio in our final year and realised quite quickly that even though the work we were making was physically different, we had the same approach and conversations about materials and making.
What does the name Forest + Found represent?
We chose it because it represents our love for craft and use of natural materials. It’s about using traditional skills and materials applied within a contemporary context to produce handcrafted objects that speak of time, culture and the maker’s hand.
Who or what is your inspiration?
From our surroundings, from architectural structures and local woodlands to ancient textiles and pottery. Living and working in London informs our designs but also makes us seek inspiration from further afield. We often look at historical artefacts and cultural objects from around the world as starting points for our new work.
Can you tell us about your design and making process?
We have never seen ourselves as designers because we don’t sit down and design a product. The materials we work with are usually a starting point for a piece of work, and they tend to inform the process from start to finish. The really exciting part is how the process develops along the way.
Where do you source your materials from?
Most of our wood is from Epping Forest and we work closely with the forestry commission who give us a sustainable supply of native hardwoods. We also work with a local cabinet maker, taking a lot of his offcuts that are of no use to him but are perfect for carving spoons and utensils. The cotton used in our quilts is an organic calico, and all our natural dyes are made from the wood chip we produce from carving and turning as well as foraging in the forests and hedgerows for dye plants.
Can you describe your workshop to us?
Our studio is set at the bottom of our garden in our home in Walthamstow, North East London. It started life as a garden workshop, that has since been extended and two new sections added. Built from entirely reclaimed wood and sheet material, it’s fully glazed on the front, with two entrances, painted black and surrounded by trees and plants. Inside, every surface has been painted white to reflect the light and give a clean bright working environment. There is a woodworking studio and a textiles studio, joined in the middle by a folding door, that usually remains open apart from when we’re sanding.
What is it about wood that’s so appealing to you to work with?
We have always been drawn to wood from when we were very small. It has a warmth and a tactility that somehow you just can’t get from other materials. We love how it has a life of its own; that you can never fully predict how it will behave and that it can move and twist. It lives on after you have worked it.
What other materials interest you?
We want to explore lots of different materials, particularly clay and paper. That’s what is so fantastic about being in the craft world. We’ve built up a network of craftspeople that all have different sets of skills allowing for opportunities to collaborate and explore new materials.
What do you hope your craft brings to other people’s homes?
A sense of enjoyment and pleasure and a feeling of fulfilment that they’ve taken something into their home that can last and be passed down through the generations.
How important is sustainability to you and to the future of design?
As with anything, there needs to be a level of responsibility and care with what we do. We are fortunate to be able to work with natural materials and we realise that they have an integrity that we try to let speak for itself in the work we make.
What do you have planned for the rest of this year... and beyond?
It has been a busy year so far and it’s going to get even busier as it continues. We’ve just taken part in the British Craft Pavilion during London Design Festival, we’re collaborating with a fashion designer to put on an exhibition in early October, and we have the Showcase space provided by Craft Central in late November. As well as working on commissions and new collections of work we are also setting up workshops in patchwork, quilting and carving. There’s lots to be getting along with and we couldn’t be more excited for the future.
Photos by Forest + Found
Article by: EKBB