Byron & Gomez
Name: Charles Byron & María del Mar Gómez
Age: Charles 26, Maria 29
Profession: Furniture designer-makers
Nationality: British, Puerto Rican
Favourite word: Maria: Guanábana (one of my favourite fruits from home); Charles: Yonder
1) Can you recall what you wanted your room or house to look like as a kid?
M: I can remember my room was ever changing. I think I was a frustrated artist as a child, I didn’t know how to draw or paint but still I painted my room floor to ceiling with clouds in a blue sky and another time it became an intergalactic experience by making it all dark with planets, moons and stars. My bathroom was once an underwater tank with algae and bubbles. In retrospect it was all very tacky but it was great fun that I could just pick a a paint brush and be as creative as I wanted to be.
C: I expect I wanted to live in a treehouse in the woods. My parents had quite a large garden with some fairly wild spaces. As a child I was always tunnelling through brambles to make secret dens. As a got older I went from dens to tree-houses which my dad helped me with but we were normally a little too ambitious. The whole garden is littered with half built projects that never quite got finished. The last one is just a handful of huge planks bolted 40 foot up a massive oak tree.
2) What was the first time working together as partners on a project like for you? Can you describe the step by step of creative process at Byron & Gomez?
Two years ago when we started Byron & Gómez we worked together to develop a range of four pieces of furniture. We definitely didn’t have a good plan, we were both going head first into the deep, making things we’ve never done before and trying new techniques of constriction. We were understanding each other better and quickly we could appreciate each others strengths and weaknesses. Now we have learned to be much more organised, we communicate a lot throughout the design stage of a piece, we sketch loads and make models when necessary then move on to technical drawings to move on to the workshop. The making process works as a chef & sue-chef approach, each of us taking charge of a specific project then bringing in the other person to assist when you need an extra pair of hands. This approach seems to work better than when we worked together on one piece at a time.
3) Can you tell us what, in particular, has influenced your approach to furniture making?
Although we both come from two very different cultural and social backgrounds we share similar views and values in our approach to furniture making. We have both been trained at Williams and Cleal Furniture here in England where we learned to make furniture to a very high standard, which is, besides design the most important thing for us. We embrace the history of craftsmanship and skills throughout our practice. We are absolutely dedicated to good craftsmanship and we want to be the best we can at it always. Our approach to furniture is balance, true balance between design and craft. We feel such frustration when we see good design made with poor craftsmanship, it takes so much from it. We want to only make things that are worth cutting a tree down for, making things that will long outlast us.
4) Would you agree that traditional craft techniques (like stream-bending, for example) and the latest technology are equally essential to creating innovative, lasting pieces of furniture?
Definitely, this is and has always been an integral part of what furniture making is. True innovation in design is often derived from breakthroughs in materials, tools and techniques and how these can be combined with traditional methods to create new affects. Using new technology like CNC is just another tool that combined with good hand skills (and a lot of sanding!) can create beautiful, lasting pieces of furniture. We feel that hand skills and technology can compliment each other greatly.
5) What piece of furniture, do you believe, will remain in our houses for centuries?
C: The Windsor chair, it’s a staple of kitchens everywhere. It’s been around for centuries already and I’m sure it will stick around for centuries to come.
M: Charles & Ray Eames, Lounge chair.
*Lead image: Log Stack Cabinet by Byron & Gomez
Interview by Wuffa | Alisa Nikitina