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Handcrafted wooden lighting and designer furniture made in Cornwall

At Tom Raffield, we create beautiful furniture and lighting for you to treasure – pieces that both stand out and fit into your life, bringing a unique quality to your home.

Inspired by the forms of nature, we design and make each item by hand in our workshop in Cornwall, England. We can alter any of our pieces to meet your needs.

Our award-winning ranges combine sustainable design with the low-energy process of steam bending to create timeless pieces that will last over a lifetime.

Tom grew up surrounded by the extreme wilderness, tranquility and natural beauty of Exmoor, England - an environment that stimulated his imagination, and inspired freedom to be adventurous in his designs.

Tom’s fascination with the traditional practice of steam bending began whilst studying at Falmouth College of Arts, where he discovered the traditional technique of using a chamber wouldn’t allow him to create the complex 3D bends he had envisaged. Years of research and experimentation allowed him to develop a new steaming method to turn his design visions into reality.

Tom was co-founder of the award-winning collective design company Sixixis, recognised for unique aesthetic, forward-thinking designs and now, through his own company, Tom continues to create spectacular, ecologically sound, innovative furniture and lighting.

Handcrafted in his studios in Cornwall, England, the range of contemporary lighting and furniture Tom now creates is based on beauty, integrity and a desire to create unique, high-specification products that will be cherished by their owners.

Winner of the Lighting Design Association’s Lighting Design Award 2011.

Handmade in England

There are so many products today clamoring for your attention; products that follow fashion trends and become obsolete far before their physical time.

Distinction in design, craftsmanship and materials form the basis of our company and creating beautiful, sustainable furniture and lighting is what we’re all about. Everything we produce is handmade with care at our workshop in Cornwall, England.

We take pride in each piece we create and timeless design, combined with high quality workmanship, ensure each of our products is treasured by its owner and will last beyond a lifetime. From sourcing the right timber to using the best finish for the product, everything is the result of thought, consideration and artistry.

If you hate the idea of waste and today’s throwaway culture, but love the idea of owning something that is built to last and will become a treasured possession, then our lighting and furniture ranges are for you. They are not slaves to trends but truly unique, timeless and precious works of art – made to stand the test of time.

Sustainable Design & Steam Bending

We create products that will be cherished, enjoyed and loved and feel strongly that in our disposable culture longevity is the basis for sustainability. In an ideal world, sustainability is a by-product of good design. Running a business in a sustainable way should naturally be sound business practice.

Having a comprehensive knowledge of the production process; from the selection of a tree, to the final finishes, provides Tom with the skills to minimise environmental impact and make his work economically viable.

So what actually makes Tom Raffield designs sustainable?

We use local timber where possible from renewable resources, reducing transportation.
All our timber comes from sustainably managed woodlands where more trees are planted than cut down.
The wood we use is either unseasoned, green or air dried timber (avoiding the energy-intensive kiln drying process).
Steam bending is the main form of production. It is a low energy method of manufacturing, with little wastage. There is no use of toxic or harmful chemicals; just water.
Wood waste is used onsite in our compost toilet.
Local suppliers and manufacturers are used where possible. Not only is this often cost effective, but it also helps to support local business and economy.
Each piece is hand crafted and will last over a lifetime.

Steam bending is a traditional process steeped in history. It was once a vital practice, paramount to the production of weapons, tools and water vessels but sadly, with the advance of technology the practice has become less common.

Steam bending is also a low energy and ecological method of manipulating wood with no nasty glues and very low levels of wastage.

With time and a lot of practice Tom has developed his own way of using steam, which has reinvented this traditional process and brought it into the 21st century. The new tools and methods Tom has developed mean he can twist and bend wood to create shapes as freely as you use a pencil for drawing.

Having such a good understanding of the material and the process ensures there are no restrictions on creativity – knowing that anything can be achieved is extraordinarily liberating.

Creating complex 3D shapes from a single plank of wood is made much easier with Tom Raffield’s bag technique.

Whilst studying at Falmouth College, Tom realised he wanted to be able do more than traditional steam-bending techniques would allow and so he invented an innovative new method of steam-bend wood, which he called the bag technique.

Traditional steam bending sees wood placed in a chamber of steam and then removed into the air to be bent- but this method didn’t allow Tom the time to create the complex shapes he wanted. He developed a new technique using a steam filled bag on localised sections of the wood, enabling him to create bends in the wood whilst it is still being subjecting to the bending effects of the steam.

Being able to bend the wood whilst it is being steamed allows Tom to craft pieces much more slowly and carefully as the time restrictions usually imposed by the rapid cooling of the wood being are no longer a problem.

A jig system with clamps and composite straps is used to actually bend the wood, creating a space to do so within a series of scaffolding bars and thus removing the confines of shaping on a bench.

The bag technique allows the development of far more complex 3D forms than traditional chamber steam-bending, as well as enabling work on localised sections of a piece of wood in order to achieve a high quality finish, with far less risk of splitting owing to temperature change.

Tom said: “This technique is perfect for sculptures and one-off pieces but is very time consuming and therefore not commercially viable for large-scale production. It’s really an art process, enabling the artist to shape wood as you might shape clay.”

All Tom Raffield products are currently unavailable, but we can let you know as soon as it's possible to place an order.

All products by Tom Raffield

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