interview :: feist forest

Katie | June 16, 2015


Feist Forest is based in an “old tin tabernacle” in Devon and launched just six weeks ago. They make wooden work tables for “the vagabonds, dreamers and makers who courageously make great ideas happen.” With a pitch like that, how could I not feature them on the blog? I spoke to founder Vicki Turner to find out more…


What’s the most important thing to know about about you?

I attempt to create what I hope to see in the world. And I also help others do the same. As a designer and illustrator I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to do both.


What inspires your work?

Everything that I surround myself with. It’s hard to define, but nature and thoughtful passionate folks always provide a lot of energy and motivation.


Talk me through your design and making process.

It’s quite intuitive. Every project is different, it all depends on budgets, people you’re working with, problems to solve, the details you have or don’t have. I learn something new on each and every one. I have rarely worked on a brief where I don’t ask lots of questions and admit to not knowing something. Every project is a journey into the unknown, it keeps it exciting that way.


What’s your favourite part of the process?

Getting started. I’m not that good at analysing the bigger picture of a project, that just causes unnecessary worry. If I just start, however awful the initial outcome, it’s often something to laugh at and helps to bring everything back down to earth, the road ahead is far less precious and playful after that and ideas are free-flowing.


Where does the name ‘Feist Forest’ come from?

Whilst wandering these last few years, I saw the beauty of our great blue planet as well as the trouble it’s in, but I also met folks who are trying to change it, the brave ones who dare to take the difficult road to making better things and environments. I wished to support these very independent minds and makers with lifelong products, specifically work tables. It’s a small contribution, yet one heck of a rainbow-ride of making, prototyping, developing and sourcing to get here. The name captures this for me, the two themes, courage; Feist as well as supporting and working together; Forest, these two words felt right and stuck around whilst other ideas came and went.


What’s your favourite tool and why?

The first thing I grab is a pencil. It brings my hand and mind into action and ideas that are murky, become real, helping to resolve theories and visualise thoughts quickly. It’s quite a scrawly stage for me at this point, there are certainly no beautiful drawings to share – it’s more about ‘what is this thing, does it work and how does it feel?’


Tell me about a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Feist Forest.

A good day is when all is calm, ideas are brewing, collaborations are on the horizon and warmth, I always need warmth. A bad day? Thankfully there aren’t many, but if I am unlucky to be around big egos or negativity, this can zap my spirit pretty quick and it’s a good time to get the heck outta there.


What defines good design?

Solving problems in a holistic and mindful way. Some of my favourite designer-makers are those who take on a challenge and don’t give up or listen to the naysayers. I appreciate it takes a lot of self-belief to continue and I think it’s often at this point when the magic happens. Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia is a legend and a humble one at that. He captures what good design is for me. Making things that last, believing strongly in something and taking care to make as little negative impact as possible.


What are you most proud of?

Launching Feist Forest. It’s taken a long time to get here, with many bumps and false starts, but we made it and I’m grateful to have met some incredible people along the way.


What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?

It’s a very personal journey, but if I have learnt anything, it would be to listen to your instinct. It really does know its stuff and I’m pretty sure it will guide you well. I’ve never regretted what my gut told me to do, not just in design, but generally in life.


And finally, what’s your favourite colour?

All depths of blue.


Further reading for the especially geeky:


Further Reading for the Especially Geeky ::

Founding Editor – Katie Treggiden

Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.

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