We are proud to share the story of the latest partnership between furniture manufacturer Italsed and designer Harry Batchelor.
Through this collaboration, the two parties demonstrate the true potential of the platform. We invite you to explore this story and see of what can be accomplished with the right connection.
Meet the Designer: Harry Batchelor
Harry is a product designer who, having originally studied Architectural Engineering, has enjoyed taking qualities from both disciplines and applying them to design. This approach has helped him gain a strong foundation and gives him the confidence to throw himself into any creative endeavour.
My approach to design is to keep it simple, tasteful and functional without compromising on innovative thinking and new form-making. After this and above all, it is to create a product that people would love to have in their home.Harry Batchelor
One of the earliest designers to join BuyDesign, Harry has made good use of the platform to display his original, elegant and practical creations to interested companies. With Italsed, he found the perfect partnership.
Meet the Company: Italsed
Since 1983, Italsed has been a leading chair-maker, manufacturing chairs for some of the biggest furniture brands. Their commitment to competitive costs, fast delivery, responsiveness, and outstanding quality have enabled them to grow into a highly respected company. At Italsed, designers and craftsmen take pride in creating products with meticulous attention to detail, ensuring that their high standards of excellence are maintained. This simple approach has enabled them to become one of the most reliable and trusted chair manufacturers in Italy as they continue to carry on a tradition of providing excellent quality and customer service. David Barrett is the acting Creative Director and spearheaded the collaboration with Harry.
David Barrett, Creative Director of Italsed: DB
Harry Batchelor, Product Designer: HB
How did you meet each other?
HB: We met through BuyDesign 12 months ago, before the launch of the new platform. Before meeting David, I had not known about Italsed initially but instantly recognised the logo. I had seen it multiple times due to the amazing range of customers they had in retail/contract.
DB: Once we had been introduced through the BuyDesign platform, we jumped onto a Zoom call to discuss the project.
David, what was it about Harry’s design that attracted you to this partnership?
DB: I was looking for some specific designs/styles following a meeting with an important customer. I came across a couple of designs on the BuyDesign platform that Harry had designed. These designs were broadly in line with the brief given to me by the customer, so I contacted Harry.
What about David’s initial introduction/the company’s profile that attracted you to this partnership, Harry?
HB: The partnership looked great to me. Italsed is one of the most well-known and respected chair manufacturers in Italy. I loved the idea of collaborating with such a prestigious company who are so well respected and a great opportunity for me to learn more about the manufacturing side of things.
What did the process feel like? Was it different from a conventional introductory process?
DB: The process was smooth and uncomplicated. It felt much quicker than a convention introductory as, obviously, I was aware that the designs Harry had uploaded to the BD Market place were original and available. We had a short “getting to know you” chat and soon came to an agreement on terms that enabled me to show the designs to the Buyer very quickly. We were delighted as the Buyer immediately selected one of the prototyping designs and, at their request, Harry supported by making some small tweaks to the concept. With a more conventional introductory process, our first meeting would have only been the kick-off part of the relationship. After this, I would have issued Harry with a brief and only then would he have started the design process. Sourcing design through BD sped up the whole process.
HB: Yes, the process was different in the sense that BuyDesign had set up the technical aspect of the collaboration, T&Cs/contracts, in such a user-friendly hassle-free way that we could sign and quickly get onto chatting about work and design. Particularly useful for the newer designer.
So then, what were your first conversations like?
DB: Pretty straightforward; Harry and I are both relaxed characters, so there haven’t been any dramas…yet 😉
HB: Great. After the paperwork was sorted we could jump on a call and have a casual introductory chat about how we saw the collaboration work. The conversations were very organic, talking about the company’s wants and needs and how I could fit into that
What about that first meeting/discussion made you feel that this was a design partnership with potential?
DB: Harry is a young and talented designer who is a good listener and keen to learn. This is a huge asset as the design development process can be a long and complicated process with many twists, turns and sometimes disappointments along the way. When developing products for customers, you need to be a good listener, flexible and adaptable.
HB: The ease at which we could discuss design and all elements that surround producing a good product was a great start. David was also very accommodating with any initial questions so I could really learn about Italsed’s business as a whole.
What products have Italsed collaborated with Harry on to date?
DB: The original Loop chair which we sourced through BD and then subsequently we asked Harry to design another chair called “Hoop” for the same customer.
Harry, could you tell us a bit about the ‘Loop’ and ‘Hoop’ chairs?
HB: The Loop was based on one of the initial designs I uploaded to BuyDesign. Inspired by classic mid-century dining chairs, I wanted that same aesthetic with some contemporary twists. The Hoop was more based on a brief given to me by David. Seeing hooped back chair trends, it seemed like Italsed might benefit from one in its portfolio. We settled on a chair with big soft elements and cigar-like legs. It works particularly well in a cream boucle and pale wood.
What strategies have been implemented to ensure the partnership is progressing successfully?
DB: I tried to keep Harry up to date with what was happening at the factory regarding the prototype development process from both a technical and cost perspective. In addition, I tried to give him a feel of the potential timelines involved when developing a product for a high-street retailer. It can take between 12 to 18 months. I felt this to be important as the designer is involved right at the start, so it can often feel like nothing is happening or moving forward.
HB: Open communication, meaning any questions can be asked and any issues that crop up can be addressed quickly and effectively. This promotes lots of transparency, which is how I like to work.
What does the future of this collaboration look like?
DB: Hopefully, the Loop and Hoop are loved by the consumer and therefore become commercially successful products. This would provide the springboard to developing more products with Harry!
HB: Hopefully a long one! One where I can continue to design for Italsed and my designs are successful for them. I am excited to see what the future holds.
Last question: What is Great Design from both of your perspectives?
DB: For me, Great Design is a balance of form and function without trading one off in favour of the other. I believe Great Design also needs to address a genuine need as opposed to something superfluous to our needs i.e. not adding to the huge pile of unwanted junk we continue to create. All products nowadays need to have been conceived and produced with a great awareness of the pressures on natural resources.
HB: Great design to me is the understanding that it is a continuous back and forth between trying to be innovative and artistic while being grounded in the real world and its practicalities.
Article compiled by Wynne O’Brien
Images courtesy of Italsed and Harry Batchelor
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