JOHN GALVIN by Helena Rodriguez
Nowadays it is very difficult to own a very good piece of furniture, we all end with some mass production pieces that we do not really want but they “do the job”. This is usually a matter of budget but sometimes a matter of laziness as well. Thankfully there are new industrial designers and craft makers whom work on special items, those ones that make us happy, made out of love and creativity. John Galvin is one of these designers, with a background as a cabinet maker, this man from Ireland works now in the city of arts and crafts and Mackintosh of Glasgow, and he now owns his company too, John Galvin Design. There, he and his team make bespoke furniture, home accessories and one off commissions.
His furniture can be praised in many different ways; it is made out of quality exotic and sustainable hardwoods, something that we are starting to see more often in the market but it is still not the norm: purple heart, black walnut, the rare Jacaranda, ash, oak and even a 200 years old Brazilian mahogany… The assembly is always done the traditional way, following the cabinet making techniques he learned in the past, probably inspired in childhood memories but also in some of his favourite designers like Hans J Wenger and Finn Juhl.
All these qualities have given him exhibitions worldwide. His work has been in the acclaimed London Saatchi Gallery, the Milan Furniture Fair, a solo exhibition at the CUBE Manchester and, this year, in the upcoming Clerkenwell Design 2012 and the London Design Fesitval, both a big jump for a small company. Galvin is also a man of awards. Some of his pieces have received appointments and prices. The exquisite Jacaranda Cygnet lamp, hand crafted completely, from the timber to the brass base, was first shortlisted for World Architecture News lighting design of the year. But it is the Manolo Lounger, inspired in the Spanish shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, the most acclaimed one: a beautiful and elegant chair, without a single 90-degree angle (could easily be a Louboutin too), completely hand made. This chair is the one that has make this designer wining the British TRADA Wood Award for Outstanding craftsmanship 2011, the most respected award for building and design in wood. “The most challenging but satisfying piece I have ever attempted to produce” he says.
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