Designer Chris Eckersley - in his own words

Birmingham enjoyed its own fame decades before the real Peaky Blinders emerged after the First World War. The UK’s second biggest city has such a proliferation of canals and waterways that it became  known as ‘the first manufacturing town in the world’. Water meant ease of distribution. It was the Amazon Prime of its day with items taking a little longer than 24 hours to reach their destinations.

Designer Chris Eckersley was born and brought up there, the former 'City of a Thousand Trades'. “The Brummie attitude,” says Chris, “used to be ‘OK, whatever you want, we'll make it,’ and this still lingers here to some extent, even today.” Chris’s first move into the design world was inspired by the truly eclectic range of manufacturing work being done all over the city. And considering his father’s profession, it was inevitable he would become very well acquainted with the city’s manufacturing environments.

“My father was in charge of the city's electricity supply and as a lad I was allowed to accompany him - always on a Saturday morning as that day was more informal - on an inspection of some part of the town teeming with small factories, back-street workshops, sheds up alleys, or some other place where metal-bashing, jewellery, switchgear or gun-making was in progress; or maybe casting, cable-winding, die-stamping, drop-forging, or any number of other types of manufacture. I think it must have been all this at an impressionable age which started me off on the idea of making things.”

Chris had a practical art-school education specialising in sculpture before establishing his studio in the 1970s. He went on to complete an MA in Design Studies at Central St Martins College, where he became a Visiting Tutor for many years. Over four decades Chris has produced many successful designs, ranging from bespoke commissions for individual clients to designs for manufacturers and retailers such as Heal’s, the Conran Shop, John Lewis, Lloyd Loom, Liberty and SCP. His awards and milestones in a career in design include The Prince’s Medal from HRH The Prince of Wales at the V&A Classic Design Awards in 2002, Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts, and more recently a Design Guild Mark from The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers. 

Designer CHris Eckersley

Chris Eckersley is one of a number of designers invited by Made By The Forge to instigate new projects. “I value well-crafted, sustainable design that has longevity,” says Chris. “Richard and Juliet at the Forge are unusual in that they recognise the advantages that professional design can bring to a product. Design is sometimes confused with what I would call styling, but good design is about more than just the look of the product; it takes into account things like manufacture with minimum waste, best use of materials, and ease of use for the end consumer. Under Richard's guidance I spent some time working hands-on at the Forge, experimenting with traditional blacksmithing and trying to discover what works and what doesn't.” A solid education at the front line in forging metal is always useful for designers. It helps them steer clear of taking time on something that cannot be made to work. Inefficiency is kept to a minimum.

“This is exactly the sort of collaboration that I find exciting; we've tried very hard to combine real craftsmanship with sound principles of design, and I hope that people will like what we've come up with.” With Chris’s new Forge bathroom Range, have a look for yourself.

See our bathroom range

Chris Eckersley

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