Meet the Designer – John Tree

John Tree is a London based product designer who divides his time designing for personal clients and Jasper Morrisons office. John has collaborated with VG&P since 2017 on a series of furniture pieces. We sat down with John to discuss the design of the HD Chair, its inspiration and how the notion of flexible working is evolving.

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Tell us about your design background, what would you say has influenced you the most as a designer?

John: "I used to be an industrial designer at Sony working on all things electronic until we did a joint project with Jasper Morrison to develop a family of home audio and visual products.

I was a big fan of his work so when he subsequently invited me to join his studio, I jumped at the chance to both work with him and learn a little about how furniture was designed.

So, I hope my work brings together the technical and detail orientated aspect that Sony installed in me along with an appreciation of the wide historical context that furniture design operates in, and Jasper is so good at navigating."

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What was the background behind the design of the HD Chair?

John: "The inspiration behind the HD chair was the humble machinists chair. Often designed for manual tasks in industry they have a lovely language of simplicity and function that come together with an honest economy.

The HD project was about trying to explore and celebrate this approach whilst updating the ergonomics and comfort for todays tasks and flexible workspaces."

Talk us through the materiality of the HD Chair how does that impact the design and its use?

John: "The materiality of The HD chair was led very much by the function each part needed to serve.

We were seeking all day levels of comfort, so after many rounds of testing we discovered the natural flexibility of plywood combined with the softness of rubber connections led to a very responsive yet comfortable seat.

The predominant use of metal and wood avoids plastics and celebrates the variety of finishes possible with laminated wood."

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What are your thoughts on flexible working and its impact on design?

John: "There seems to be a bit of a shift away from the traditional complexity of office furniture towards a new simplicity and honesty.

This is probably necessitated by the transition from office working to home working that we are seeing accelerate rapidly in the last 18 months.

As more people start working from home, I think we will see new types of furniture emerge that offer some of the utility seen in work environments but with some of the sensibilities required for domestic specs."

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Whats on the horizon for you as a designer?

John: "I have a few projects in the pipeline with VG&P along with some other brands. A lot seem to revolve around home working which is really interesting.

I enjoy having a project in mind as it becomes a kind of lens that you find yourself looking through to observe daily life. I find myself looking over people's shoulders on video calls to get a view or their 'workspace'."

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