One day I recieved a call from Wade Upholstery who had seen one of my chairs in an exhibition. They invited me up to their factory at Long Eaton for a look at what they were doing and to discuss some new designs. Long Eaton is an eye-opener; the whole town is full of upholstery workshops. The first chair I designed for them was a 'show-wood' lounge chair; that is a wooden frame with upholstered seat and loose seat and back cushions. Wade have got everything under one roof, prototyping, frame-making, finishing, and upholstery. It's on a big scale but the element of hand craftwork is evident in every detail.
I made some 1:5 scale drawings and foam-board models, and then their prototype shop made a full-size frame. I had this back at the studio for a week and made a few amendments; once approved I got the final design modelled in Solidworks by my friends at Alphatech. On my next visit to Long Eaton I found a hundred frames were sitting in the factory ready for upholstery!
One aspect of design-for-production is that often the designer can lose an element of control. The chairs, originally called Osborne, sold very well but then Wade did a deal with John Lewis. JL changed the name to Hanoi (which for anyone of a certain age is something they don't want to be reminded of) and sales dropped. Subsequently the chair was marketed by Arlo & Jacob as Reuben - another name change... Then the managing director retired and the new boss decided on a clean sweep!
Before all this though I had worked on six projects with Wade and it was hugely enjoyable. The best bit for me was seeing the mass of frames in the factory, and then the end product in shops around the country.