OneOak Spider Bench by Ian Smith. In the foreground is the model, with students constructing the actual bench behind. Photo OCVC.
Students from Rycotewood Furniture Centre at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College have been working with our partner schools to design benches for their school grounds, to be made from the timber of the OneOak tree.
Furniture Design Student Ian Smith has been working with Stonesfield Primary School. Here is his story.
The OneOak seating project was a great chance for me to involve children in the design of outdoor seating for their own school. Working with the children at Stonesfield school was an exciting opportunity for me as a designer. I was keen from the start to try to involve the children’s ideas without leading them too strongly in any set direction. I also wanted to produce a design with impact and that would make a statement so the children would feel that the tree had been transformed personally for them into something unique.
It quickly became apparent that children viewed seating in a very different way to adults. We have set standards and requirements that must be met, however, the children’s ideas were quite different. They wanted excitement and adventure, this was further reflected in the ideas and designs the children produced.
Following this lead the final design followed a spider theme that the children had included in some of their design work. The final piece reflects a spider, has a dynamic feel of movement and allows seating at different heights, hopefully a reflection of the children’s ideas and wants.
This project showed me that involving the children created a completely different approach to my usual work, the children added ideas and concepts without the restrictions of the standards we all adhere to. This was a valuable lesson in designing with an open mind.
Ian Smith, Furniture Design Student 2010/2011, RYCOTEWOOD FURNITURE CENTRE.
Artist in Residence 2011/2012