Interview with David Trubridge : Emblem of the Slowdesign

2 11 2010


Could you introduce yourself ( education, jobs, works…)?

David Trubridge graduated as a Naval Architect from Newcastle University Britain, but since then he has worked as a furniture designer/maker. He settled in New Zealand after a long yacht voyage with his family. His design process combines innate craft knowledge, sculptural abstraction and computer design technology, as it draws on his life’s rich experiences. His work is directed by strongly held environmental convictions. He is New Zealand’s best known designer and his work, which his own company in Hawkes Bay manufactures, is sold and exhibited all around the world.

In the last few years he has exhibited twice at 100% Design in London, nine times at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, and four times at ICFF in New York. His ‘Body Raft’ design is currently being manufactured by Cappellini, and was voted ‘an iconic New Zealand design’ by Urbis readers. His design ‘Raft’ was the only piece of furniture in the finals of the Japan Design Foundation’s International Competition 2001, and was also selected for the International Design Yearbook (IDYB). Snowflake light won a Silver Leaf at ISDA Japan. He has been selected for five other IDYB entries.

Over recent years his designs have also featured in countless international publications, including influential Italian magazines and even the Financial Times, as an instigator of the trend of ‘raw sophistication’. In 2008 the French magazine Express listed him as one of the top 15 designers in the world. His Body Raft has been voted as iconic in New Zealand and in the best 50 designs of the twentieth century overseas, and his Coral light has been named as one of the top ten lights of the last 100 years by a Singapore magazine.

His work has been exhibited in the Pompidou Centre, Paris and at important design shows in Zurich, Gwangju (Korea), Taipei, Singapore, Sydney, Dubai. It has been used in shops as part of displays supporting fashion designers Kate Moss in London’s Top Shop, and Stella McCartney in Printemps Paris, and on the catwalk in Milan fashion week. It can be seen in luxury resorts around the world in such places as the Seychelles, Mauritius, and Fiji. And it is used in bars, restaurants, airports, and company foyers everywhere, even the Swedish Stock Exchange.

In 2007 he was given NZ’s highest design award, the John Britten Award, by the Designer’s Institute of NZ. He is also adjunct professor of design at Unitec. He is invited to speak regularly on sustainable design at conferences and symposia around the world.

Why did you choose to design ecological products?

I didn’t choose that, i have always done it! It is just the way i am because i care. I started by teaching myself to be a craftsman, teaching myself design later. the essence of craft is CARE. You do a job well purely for the sake of it, even if it means you get paid less. You spend too long trying to use just one plank, when it would be quicker to roughly cut the pieces out of two – because you care about the tree and don’t want to waste it! I started doing this in the 70s when i was also renovating my house – most the building materials we used were all recycled stone, timber and roofing slates. We got teak and pitch pine decking from a ship-breaking yard to make window frames. It is not a philosophical, Rational or business decision – it is just the way we were, and how houses had traditionally been built to last. I have been called an eco-designer simply because i use wood. but i am not an eco-designer, nor does the use of wood make me one. I am a designer who cares about the effect of what i do, and about making good things for people to keep and cherish – that, surely, is simply the basic condition for ‘good design’?! I don’t believe in eco-design – there is just good design (and with all the other criteria for good design, that includes environmental responsibility) and bad design. We need to start looking more critically at some of the beautiful things around us in this light and saying, well actually that is bad design . . . Or at least not as good as it looks.

What are your current and future projects?

We are redesigning a number of our larger light shades so that they can be kitset. Life Cycle Analysis of our products revealed transport to be where we had the most adverse effect on the environment, so this is our response. 52 trucks are required to carry the same amount of assembled lights as one truck full of kitsets. We are working on a lightweight, portable shelter (somewhere between a dome and a yurt) using our normal method of structural integrity being achieved with absolutely minimum material. We achieve this through thin compound curvature of the skin which is itself the structure. And we are researching new sheet materials with less environmental impact than plastic and bamboo.

Would you be tempted by other artistic experiences dealing with ecology?
You bet! I am particularly interested to find a way in which we can supply cultural/artistic nourishment, that we as a society need, without making ‘stuff’ and using up resources . . . Rather an ideal!

lit bateau lit bateau

If you’re interested by David Trubridge’s work, you can check his personal website and a store where you could find Trubridge’s pieces of art.




2 responses

11 12 2010

David Trubridge est vraiment incroyable : ” I didn’t choose that, i have always done it! ”
Pourquoi l’écologie n’est-elle pas une préoccupation pour tous ? L’ecodesign ne devrait pas être à part, le design devrait être écologique en général. Malheureusement, tout le monde n’est pas David Trubridge et les designers ne sont pas tous des ecodesigners de façon naturelle..

1 04 2011
Patricia Larrañaga

Maravilloso trabajo!! Felicitaciones!!
No debemos olvidar que todo viene de la tierra, nuestra bella, destruida y olvidada pachamama, debemos volver al origen!!

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