In the third instalment of our craftsmanship series, we chat with master craftsman Gwyn Carless to find out what a day spent in his Derbyshire studio looks like…
This month, we’re celebrating our exclusive relationship with master craftsman Gwyn Carless, who himself is celebrating 25 years as a lighting designer.
We caught up with Gwyn in his Derbyshire studio to get a unique insight into the passion, care and attention to detail he applies to every luminaire he creates.
So Gwyn, tell us how you begin a typical day in the workshop…
Like a lot of people, I assess what I’ve got to do in a day and try to work out the most efficient way of managing my time. Some elements need time to dry, so you’ve got to work to a plan and do certain jobs straight away. I catch up with Jeff about current orders and client needs. We also discuss the projects we have coming up next. Otherwise it’s just about cracking on with the orders we have in.
What’s the key part of addressing a client’s needs?
Firstly, it’s about coming up with a workable idea, figuring out whether it’s possible and considering the concepts. After that, I go into the fine details. I’ll make drawings and send out relevant parts to manufacturers. We work backwards from the deadline and check customers are happy with the price.
Would you say most of the designing is done in your mind, on paper or through trial and error?
Definitely in my mind – usually at night when everything is quiet. I’ll suddenly rush down the stairs to write it all down. When Jeff and I are brainstorming a particular project, the visual ideas pop into my head, and we create an initial plan for the design very quickly. It takes a few days to figure out how we’re going to make the plans a reality though. We start with a drawing, develop a prototype and work with the client to reach the final design.
The problem-solving aspect is what makes it interesting – it’s great when you have a challenging brief and work out what’s needed. An open brief where you can do anything you want can be a lot harder.
What hand have technological advances had in changing your day to day work?
Technological advances provide new ways to solve problems. For example, look at the way we bond an aluminium boss to glass and the wires and then connect that to a transformer. For years we’ve been soldering them together and waterproofing it separately. Then last October we found a connector that involves applying a gel, and it makes a waterproof connection–it connects and waterproofs all in one go. While it may only shave minutes off the process, when you’re making a large batch, say up to a 100 fixtures, it can save you hours or even an entire day.
Are there any stressful days in the workshop? How do you handle those?
In the lead up to Christmas it can get pretty busy, so I get out on my bike for a ride and that’s where I leave it all behind. I’m very lucky that the work I do is challenging and creative – I love what I do.
How do you close up the workshop at the end of the day?
There are always elements you’ve got to prepare for the next day. Usually there’s something you’ve got to leave drying overnight, for example. There’s very rarely a stopping point – probably just over Christmas and one week over the summer. At all other times of the year, work in the shop just carries on from one day to the next – I’ve been doing it for 25 years now, so it runs like a well-oiled machine!