Meet the Maker: Tom Raffield
This month we meet Tom Raffield, one of a new generation of makers innovating within an ancient craft to produce contemporary designs that are as sustainable as they are beautiful. Tom works in the Cornwall countryside, steam bending wood to create lighting, furniture and other home accessories as well as working with architects to create highly original exterior finishes.
How does it feel to steam bend wood and what feeling do you think it brings to its eventual owners’ homes?
Every single steam-bent piece brings me so much pride. Every bend furthers my respect for the sustainable wood that we use – it delights me that I’m able to reflect the beauty of our Cornish surroundings in a lighting or homeware design, whilst using an ecological method that’s kind to the planet. I love to think that this mesmerising moment is replicated when our customers open their box and take out their newest design at home. The beauty of our scandi-inspired designs is timeless joy – it never loses that feeling of being special.
You aim to operate a circular design chain by 2024. Could you tell us a bit about the key changes that will involve?
We believe design can be a force for change. Crafting heirlooms of the future, our goal is to make superior quality pieces that are loved, used, and stand the test of time. These heirlooms of the future are the anti-dote to over consumption and as well as sharing this message as loud as we can, we also want to continue to improve the way we work. Along this journey we are looking to prevent the creation of waste and pollution, circulate products and materials for future use, whilst helping to regenerate nature. We are making good progress, but we need all businesses to focus on reshaping our economy and protecting the planet.
What do you think it will take for circular design to become the norm?
I think accountability is the biggest hurdle we are facing at the moment. Plenty of companies, big and small, have proven change can be made to create sustainable, circular design, but we need everyone to take a step back, rethink their processes and be innovative to implement positive change.
What role does craft play in your household over the festive period?
Right from when I opened my first tool belt at 7 years old on Christmas morning, the woodworking spark began. To me, nothing shows care more than handmade gifts, and that is why crafting is so dear to the festive period. Whether my children are drawing on Christmas cards, or I am in the workshop working on gifts for loved ones, a handmade gift is from the heart and is a piece of you.
Where will you be sourcing your conscious gifts this Christmas?
I’m a big advocate of ‘buy better, buy less’. Every year, I make a mindful effort to gift from small, local companies who carry a sustainable ethos that aligns with my own. Grabbing a hot chocolate from my local café and exploring the great gifts found in various Cornish towns has become part of my Christmas tradition. It’s always nice to chat to fellow small business owners, and I will continue to support them whenever I can.