Jake Solomon is a product designer who experiments and creates furniture and unusual objet d’art. His frontyard is the River Siene in and his home is a beautiful rustic French chateau which he shares with his mother a painter, when he is not travelling to London for work. Jake lets us into his wonderfully creative and freeing world in Normandy….
Hello and bienvenue to a day with me in france. I live and work in Normandy, France having a studio/workshop in the garden where I spend most of my time making a large variety of things.
At the moment I am just finishing off a series of International letter chairs which are all letterpress letters that I either bought or made [tough to buy arabic letterpress].
Today it is the turn of the Chinese characters which to be honest I have been putting off because they are tricky. I carved an initial set by hand which took forever and am now making copies of them using a great machine called a 3-d pantograph which reproduces 3d shapes using a router and involves pivots and fixed points. The jig I am screwing together in the picture is a great time saver as it allows me to work much faster and not leave things judging by eye.
Having made a few characters [much concentration needed and safety precautions taken] it’s time for something to eat and the best place to find the energy for the rest of the day is at the boulangerie, naturally I am sporting my beret for the occasion. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I got some funny looks.
After a baguette and a bowl of soup its back to the studio and to work on the other project I am currently working on. I have become very interested in moldings recently and am making a series of prototypes using various methods.
This picture is a vinamold mold which has come out pretty well but needs to be done again with a silicone mold that is more accurate. At the moment I am starting a new business with another designer making contemporary moldings.
Probably the most enjoyable element of what I do is the experimentation in the prototyping phase, my background is in sculpture but I can’t resist trying new things sometimes just to see if they will work, so I find myself learning new techniques on a regular basis. I do all my initial designing in a sketch pad and then make a few small models moving onto prototypes before 3d modeling on the old computer to send designs out to manufacturers or clients.
Here are a couple of prototypes modeled by the lovely Nicole, photographer of this ‘Day with..’ entry. she is sitting on white wedge and wedge table which are a bit of a theme for me as I have been making a wedge series of chairs in different styles and for different markets.
As is probably normal I have found that as I design one product lots of others occur to me and this is how the wedge series of chairs originated. The original ‘Wedge chair’ idea came from having leaned up a lot of off cuts from ‘Spike chair’ against the wall. I then thought it would be interesting to see a more formal version for manufacture in a factory which became the ‘White Wedge chair and Table’.
It struck me that the shape would appeal to kids and the wedges could be made in all different colours for each individual who bought one so I designed it in a way that allows for the changing of the wedges by the end consumer. Lastly I was thinking that the shape had a 1930s feel about it which is a period of furniture that I really like and couldn’t resist making a big manly kind of an arm chair.
‘Wedge Armchair’ [unimaginatively though literally named] is upholstered in a 5mm thick natural cowhide that ages with the chair changing colour with the sunlight and acquiring scuffs etc. It is my favourite thing I have made. Although I am not a fan of his furniture I really like the sculpture by Donald Judd comprised of boxes on a wall, I know he has basically made a career from one idea but none the less it works very well and, if it is not presumptuous, I am reminded of the feeling it gave me when i look at the the wedge series of chairs I have made.
I am lucky enough to live on the river Seine and have a beautiful forest at the back of the house which furnishes me with much of the wood I use to make my furniture and who doesn’t like to get a chainsaw out and hack up tree trunks?
The trunk I am sawing is a Lebanon cedar from which I have made three chairs and it smells great when you cut it. The wood is pretty heavy so I get on the tractor to take it back to the studio.
After a productive day, cooking dinner for the photographic crew is next up and tonight it is a chicken almond curry and lots of popadums. And that is that.
Contact Jake for any commissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Rohini Wahi
Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.
She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at email@example.com