Interview with Abigail Causer director of Token Homewares
How did your company came into being – people are always intrigued by the people story, aren’t they?!
‘I’ve always been the same, as a kid I was a scruffy little thing, I spent all of my time in my Dad’s woodworking workshop. Most of the time I’d never make anything practical; I would just play around, but as I got older I would take on some smaller jobs that my dad didn’t have time to do. I would fix furniture mainly, most of the time a spindle in a stool or chair would snap and it was impossible to find a replacement so I’d make one. This, and my love of art and design throughout school, directed me to go on to do an Art and Design foundation degree, which really was fantastic. I was able to just dig in to all of the colleges’ tools and materials and spend the whole time making. I was accepted by LJMU to study Product Design where what I really learned was to reign in all of my creative energy and to channel it into something useful. What I was doing had to be relevant and have a purpose. I really loved the research involved in each project I took on, everything I designed had to explain itself and its right to exist. For my final project with university I got in touch with design brand “Deadgood” who were really accommodating and mentored me through the project. They were able to give me so much insight into the marketplace and how they formed their place there. It really helped me put myself into context, what I was about and where my niche was.’
‘My Ethos is…
Something that I came to love about product design is that it isn’t an exact science, there’s that intangible element of likeability in a product. Personally I just love making things! Collecting, fixing or painting them and I tend to get attached.
A lot of what I own has some kind of story; a memory in using them, where I found it or what happened that day and I think it’s something everyone can identify with to some point, everyone has a favourite mug don’t they? One of my favourite possessions is a set of glasses, they’re blue sort of goblets with bubbles up the sides, the rim on them is kind of wonky, the bubbles are irregular and the bases of them are all different widths. They’re beautiful aesthetically; they’re a great size and lovely to use. I got a set of 4 in my first week of university; the best thing is though, when I use them now it reminds me of all the student nights out I went out on, which incidentally is the reason I only now have 2!
I think it’s great that people have a favourite object and it’s nothing to do with how well designed or functional it is, but some kind of sentiment that is invested in it. I just want to make things that are worthwhile, it’s important to be me that our products are well designed and put together, but more importantly that they’re something that deserves to be kept and people have a reason to love.
It always stuck with me that people keep the things they have an attachment to. It occurred to me that this was the way to counteract the throwaway nature of a lot of fashionable homeware products.
Token Homewares’ mission is to become a brand that specialises in design to keep. We offer customers a unique opportunity to see behind the mask of the brand by sharing the journey of the products, so as to allow you to be part of its story. It’s our aim to demystify the products’ beginning, they’ve never been imported from an overseas sweatshop or factory; you can see exactly how they’re made. Each product is something really special, exclusive in design and made right here in the UK. What better investment can you make, than in something you’ve been a part of and can keep forever? They’re essentially; a “Token” from us to you.’
What is the story of your products?
‘With the “weave” lighting trio, like most of my work, the initial concept came from working with my hands. I sat for hours cutting zigzags out with my scalpel and then “weaving” them together and experimenting with different ways of overlapping and interlocking them.
I took the patterns and laid them flat and drew them so as to be cut from a single sheet. Styling them took lead from incorporating the pattern into the form of traditional art deco pieces and through material choices. The result was a contemporary piece of lighting with a thirties edge. It was at this point that I exhibited the shades at LJMUs degree show and was selected to be part of the LJMU stall at New Designers 2012. I was really overwhelmed by how well they were received by the general public, it was a great feeling, but to sell them as a product they needed a significant amount of development.’
‘Developing the shades took a good few months of prototyping. Practically this design was particularly challenging.’
‘Polypropylene won’t hold to adhesive for any amount of time so the shades had to hold together by clipping mechanisms. One of many challenges was the clips that hold the shade together at the seam, I had to allow for the amount that the polypropylene would melt and adjust the tabs to ensure a snug fit, and then calculate and align the connecting slots to this.’
‘Another was the dashed lines, I had to work out how long to make the dashes in relation to the gaps, too long and the pattern would be fragile and tear during assembly, too long and the aesthetics would be sacrificed.’
‘Another challenge was the inner layer of vellum needed to be attached to the outer with some kind of mechanism, as each shade is a different pattern I had to create a unique set for each. But I think this actually brought one of the most elegant features to the design; adding another element of layering and variation in transparencies, if anything I think it shows the pattern off more fully. I could go on all day but I won’t, it brings back the memories!’
‘Although developing the “weave” range was a huge challenge, I’m glad I persevered. I now have a product worthy of the market place that I can form my brand around.’
‘Token Homewares is founded on UK design, sourcing of quality materials from local merchants, and local production and assembly. Our products are something really special and our customer can see the entire story behind it. It’s great to be able to say we have a product that is made right here; we can account for every step in the process and it is all done by someone who loves their job!
I’ve put together an album showing the whole process which you can see here:
Thanks so much for the opportunity of this interview Jo; it’s great to tell people about what I do!’
You can find out more about the range through our website www.tokenhomewares.bigcartel.com
Follow us on twitter @TokenHomewares