interview :: kevin stamper

Katie | January 17, 2017

Wimbledon-based designer and maker Kevin Stamper trained at Winchester College and established his eponymous studio in 1992. Straddling the worlds of art and design, high-tech and tradition and digital and analogue, his work begins with a digitalised photograph or watercolour. This is then translated into a series of dyed veneer squares and turned into an artwork or an object – often carefully crafted wooden furniture. Intrigued, we tracked him down for a chat…

What is the most important thing to know about you?

I’m an ex CDT teacher and I have spent 30 years trying to unlearn the design rules I used to teach.

interview :: kevin stamper

Tell me about a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Keith Stamper

A good day starts at 6am in fresh, warm sunshine and everything just clicks until late in the evening – ending with a cold beer; a bad day never even gets going…

interview :: kevin stamper

Where do ideas come from?

It’s not so much a case of where but when – being open and responsive to new ideas is almost impossible in a busy and sometimes stressful workshop. The most fruitful ideas come through idleness and can’t be forced.

Talk me through your design and making process.

Design ideas seem to come to me fully formed. If I try to develop or adapt them in some way then it lessens them, overcomplicating the original vision. Making obviously involves a level of planning but that’s mostly a combination of common-sense and experience.

interview :: kevin stamper

What's your favourite part of the process?

The brief moment between establishing the design and starting to make it; all is still possible before the negotiations with wood begin.

interview :: kevin stamper

What's the biggest challenge you have overcome to get where you are today?

Two years spent developing a process to through-dye veneer on a consistent basis was a big one; balancing financial necessity with creativity is probably more fundamental.

interview :: kevin stamper

What are you most proud of?

Creating a palette of colours to use in the fulfilment of my design ideas. Innovating the process of through-dying veneer worked far better than I ever anticipated and is loaded with potential for the future.

interview :: kevin stamper

What advice would you give to a new designer just starting out?

Stick at it and try not to compromise; it isn’t easy, but try to find your own style and keep doing what you do. Eventually people will start to recognise your work and then you’ll be rewarded for making what you love.

interview :: kevin stamper

What defines good design?

Mature design doesn’t compromise and has definition; decoration isn’t required.

And finally, what's you favourite colour?!

A sort of greenish-blue I mix for the dying process, but I try not to use it too much.

interview :: kevin stamper

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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