Until now, aside from pictures in glossy magazines, PINCH products have only been available to view via its Clapham North studio and a very select number of international retailers across Europe, the USA and Asia. Now, according to Oona, clients will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the pieces in order to ‘feel and appreciate their materiality’.
Located on Bourne Street, the shop (which, interestingly, once belonged to influential cookery writer, Elizabeth David) now showcases the studio’s collection of carefully refined, iconic designs from its cabinetry, upholstery and lighting ranges. Classic pieces on display include the Emil dresser, Goddard sofa, Menton desk, Frey sideboard, Anders & Soren lights, and the Nim table. Everything will be rotated on a regular basis to keep the customer experience fresh and engaging.
We speak to Oona about what it means to her and Russell to make their début into the world of retail, and what they like most about their inspirational new premises. We also ask her about her involvement with the WIN Awards this year as a judge on our brand new category, Emerging Product Designer of the Year. She tells us what she’ll be looking for in the entries, and offers some sound advice, based on her own first-hand experiences, to upcoming product designers…
We’ve always admired PINCH’s work here at WIN, so we’re thrilled to welcome you onto our esteemed judging panel for Emerging Product Designer of the Year, Oona. What made you want to become a WIN judge?
Russell and I grew our business from literally around our kitchen table, and I can remember when we began, how important it was to get feedback from people within the industry. For all we knew we were toiling away on something that meant the world to us, but had very little resonance with the world beyond our bubble! So it was a great vote of confidence to learn we had admirers out there, who were fans of our aesthetic, but also believed we could build our own business at the same time.
Very few people go into furniture and product design because it’s a money making business model; it’s more a question of people just loving creating, and having a calling; so I am really interested to discover designers
and products that do what they do because of a serious love of design, and a belief in their own product ideas.
On the subject of new, many congratulations on the opening of your shop in the buzzing enclave of Pimlico Road. Why the desire to open a retail space, and why in this location?
For quite a few years we considered taking our own shop space, as we currently ask a lot of our clients to come to our studio in Clapham - or to a random arts centre - to see our pieces in the flesh. After 13 years running PINCH, we now have a very well managed back-end to the business in terms of commercialised products, and a large amount of stock goods ready to make their way into people’s homes.
It took us a while to make the leap, but as soon we visited the shop on Bourne Street, we fell in love with its vibes. It has a fabulous old-school shop window, perfect for showing off furniture, and you see a lot of sky when you are in the shop, which is important to us. Pimlico Road is also such a destination for clients looking for quality furniture and accessories, and all the shop keepers do what they do because they have a passion. So as well as being the right physical space, the shop also comes with a thriving design and making community, which we look forward to being a part of.
Over the years, you and Russell have created furniture and lighting designs with what you describe as a ‘quiet and elegant’ aesthetic – ‘furniture and lighting to live with’. What qualities will you be looking for in the entries for WIN’s Emerging Product Designer of the Year?
I’m looking forward to seeing entries that offer longevity in their product, as well as working on ideas that really react to what customers are looking for right now. Furniture production takes such a lot of resource in terms of materials, skills and time, and we believe strongly that furniture has to work extremely hard for its owners now and also in years to come. I’m hoping to see talent that transcends trends, and has a very strong idea of itself, rather than reacting simply to zeitgeists that will change by the time next year’s entries come through.
What key piece of advice would you offer to nascent talents wishing to break onto the market in product design?
Try to develop your own design handwriting, and work to ensure that your designs are ‘ownable’, whilst also accessible to different tastes and environments. It’s easy to design products that feel right for now, but it’s also important to give thought to how the pieces will mature as your clients, and their way of life, mature too.
And lastly, going back to your new shop, speaking personally what pleases you and Russell most about it?
We now have a welcoming and much more accessible space to show our clients our designs, and we can control how they are displayed and how they work together as a curation.
We love working with the limited number of stores globally who carry our collection, but it isn’t always presented as we would present it, so being able to be in control of the display is great. And, with a shop you need to constantly rotate the shop floor and make stories to keep your clients coming back, so it’s a creative role in itself to make sure the space feels enticing and exciting. That challenge is very enjoyable.
Gail Taylor