In a world of globally out-sourced, production-line manufacture, Henry Swanzy’s handcrafted furniture does something a bit different. We discover the thought process behind his work, which you may have spotted in the hotel’s lobby.
Henry Swanzy is an award winning furniture designer and maker based in Falmouth. His newly launched collection is all about simplicity; subtle, elegant, functional. For Henry, this simplicity comes in many guises.
He predominantly works with wood, a raw material for which he has a deep respect and understanding for. “Not only is it beautiful, but it has astonishing strength and versatility – qualities that my designs looks to explore and maximize. We have a deep affinity with wood, it having been integral to our existence for tens of thousands of years.”
But it also brings many challenges. “But understood and worked with sympathetically it can enrich our environment.”
Henry overcomes these challenges – and defines his aesthetic – by drawing parallels between his work and the Japanese philosophy of ‘wabi sabi’. At its simplest, wabi sabi seeks beauty in imperfection. Its origins lie in Japanese tea drinking culture, its rituals and ceremony, and the appreciation of the handmade pots and cups integral to these rituals.
Beyond that, characteristics of wabi sabi are an appreciation of simplicity, purity, of natural materials, and the hands that craft them. So Henry’s design process is simplistic too. It’s something Henry has strived, searched and found elegant solutions for.
“Coming from a craft background I think like a craftsman, and I design like a craftsman, meaning the craft is integral to the design.” This means he would sooner nip down to the workshop and knock up a little scale model, “rather than tear my hair out trying to mock a 3D rendering on the computer.”
So for Henry it’s all about working with the material, and not against. Knowing the best ways that you can work in, and sticking to them. And appreciating the simple beauty of natural materials, including imperfections.