Every year, design watch brand Rado seeks out emerging design talent with its Rado Star Prize UK. The theme of this year’s competition was ‘Re:Imagine’ with the entrants whittled down to a 10-strong shortlist, as voted for by a panel that included ELLE Decoration editor Ben Spriggs. The outright winner, as announced in a ceremony at the designjunction fair during the LondonDesign Festival, was Huw Evans with his ‘Concertina’ chair, assembled from timber, steel and leather. We caught up with Evans to hear more about his winning design and career so far...
What does winning the Rado Star Prize UK mean to you? It’s solidified my belief in my work and working methodology. I’m excited to share similar beliefs with Rado; I try to maintain a strong focus on materials with continuous refinement.
When did you know you wanted to be a designer? From a young age I was quite hands on, so this led to studying 3D design at school and it just so happened that I was very drawn to furniture and lighting. I’ve been lucky to know what my interests are from a nearly stage. I recently set up a small workshop in the north-west which enables me to continue prototyping new products.
What did you learn during your 3D design degree at University of Plymouth? It allowed me to tackle a wide range of products and to experiment with available materials, which resulted in learning a range of making processes in wood, metal and ceramics. Timber is definitely my favourite material; it’s incredibly versatile and adds warmth to any design. I thoroughly enjoy both designing and making; it’s rewarding seeing the whole operation, starting with a concept and finishing with a tangible product.
This chair is part of a larger collection, can you talk about the idea behind ‘Concertina’? The founding research of the collection began relatively early in my third year when trying to manipulate timber. However, I held off until my final major before applying my research to specific products that would later make up a collection. Systematically cutting the timber produces a versatile, semi-fluid material that moves in multiple directions. It was a gradual process of trial and error to fully understand the limitations of the timber.
Do you admire any other designers? I would have to credit Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s working ethos. He may not have been the first to practise simplicity in design, but he carried the ideals of minimalism to new levels.
What’s on the drawing board right now? I’m not finished with the ‘Concertina’ collection, there are many ideas yet to come. I’ll be looking to develop my chair with The Conran Shop, which in itself is an unbelievable opportunity. I’m very keen to learn more about the industry, too.
Where would you like to be in 10 years? The dream is to have a recognised style and design identity. I believe I’m moving in the right direction and am taking each opportunity as it arises. radostarprize.rado.com/uk