The Trombé Bench and Classic Design Award
In 2001 I designed a range of furniture for the London company Trombé which included an oak bench. The bench was intended for garden or conservatory use, and was inspired by the comfortable, flowing lines of the metal roadside benches that you find everywhere in France. Most English benches are upright and uncomfortable; I wanted very much to make this a bench for relaxing on. The slats, of various widths to suit the curve of the frame, are fixed by what became the bench's most distinctive feature: alternating square and round walnut inlays which provide a decorative concealment to the stainless steel fixings.
The Trombé bench was shortlisted for the 2002 Homes and Gardens / V&A Classic Design Awards. At a 'glittering' (I think is the word) ceremony at the V&A it won two of the three awards, including The Prince's Medal, presented by (the then) Prince Charles.
In his speech Charles said: I firmly believe that there are certain principles of design - a natural 'language' if you like - which, when observed, result in products which have a sense of 'rightness' - whether of material, construction, colour or proportion. We naturally respond favourably to these products, finding them comfortable and pleasing to live with.
The V&A said: In the spirit of Prince Albert's award of medals to favoured British designers and manufacturers whose designs for the Great Exhibition came to form part of the Victoria and Albert Museum collection, the Prince's Medal for Classic Design is for an item selected from the shortlist by HRH The Prince of Wales.
The medal is designed by legendary jeweller and sculptor Wendy Ramshaw.
That was in 2002 and the bench looks as if it could actually become a classic as the design has not dated and is still popular today. At one time made for the Conran Shop by Möbel Big in Sweden, production has gone through various iterations, and now, since the Covid lockdown, I have gone back to making each piece by hand in my own workshop.