Renowned for a simplified and sculptural aesthetic, a proportionate balance of elegance and joy, designer David Fox is synonymous with an impressive portfolio of work that has seen him collaborate with some of Europe's top design houses. For over 20 years he has been recognised as a trailblazer in contemporary British design that maintains a global outlook. And, appropriately for that 'global outlook', Team P4 caught up with David Fox after all the madness in Milan last month to find out more about his collaborations with Boss Design and their much-admired 'Kruze' collection.
P4: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy Milan schedule to chat with us – we know how crazy Salone can get, that's for sure!
David Fox: Absolutely! It's always mad nowadays (in a good way). We have major launches now every four months, I'm just about to head to London for Clerkenwell Design Week next, and then there's 100% Design after that too!
P4: Wow, that really is a tight schedule! Let's jump right into it then. Your Kruze seating collection, by Boss Design, has been part of the global design scene for a while now and still continues to turn heads. We would love to know, however, a little bit about the design process that brought this iconic product to life.
One of the most characteristic elements to the Kruze collection is its playfulness toward materiality. Was the combination and contrast of textural and material elements central to its design story?
Fox: Kruze really was the result of combining materials with warmth, dynamism, and luxury so it could be used in a multitude of environments. So yes, that playfulness with materiality is really key to its design philosophy.
P4: Well, on that topic of use in different types of environments, elements from the Kruze collection appear equally at home in commercial, hospitality and residential settings. But was this versatility always one of the driving goals for the collection?
Fox: Actually, Kruze initially for me was visualised to work on cruise ships, funnily enough. I was on a boat once and thought 'could we not do better?' So in a way, the very first seed for the Kruze collection started as an attempt to design a solution for the chairs they had on that cruise liner. However, as I developed the idea, I had to consider a variety of environments and applications simply because as designers we always have to think ahead about searching for a manufacturer to produce the product itself, later on.
P4: Because Kruze is the end result of your collaboration with Boss Design, could you remark a little on that collaborative process? How did your design philosophy interact with the design philosophies for Boss?
Fox: It was a stroke of luck really because Mark Barrell (Design Director - Boss Design Group), whom I had worked with at a previous company, had just landed the job at Boss. He asked if I would like to submit any designs for evaluation, and he ended up loving the chair (which later became Kruze). We progressed with its development programme because we saw that Kruze was progressive for the UK contract market at the time. Boss Design's philosophy was about embracing change for the future growth of the business, so our philosophies definitely were in synergy.
P4: It's funny you mention how progressive Kruze was instantly seen by the market, because it's proving highly influential in the contemporary commercial sector and its love for flexibility, agility and innovative working models. How does the collection’s design features embrace the new desire for such new working behaviours?
Fox: Well, Kruze is nearly 12 years old since it was first conceived, and the product has adapted to the changing work environments during that time. But in the past 7 years we have seen the biggest change: traditionally people always need to sit down, and high backed seating systems were very few and far between when Kruze was designed. But in harmony with these new products Kruze is used as a beautiful accessory. In principle, kind of like a nice piece of jewellery or a watch to compliment an outfit.
P4: And it's definitely in keeping with the rest of your portfolio, characterised by its sculptural, almost architectural, approach to form and balance. Do you feel this is an essential element to Kruze’s visual harmony?
Fox: The simpler more considered you make a piece, in my belief, the longer it will stand the test of time, changing fashions, and so on. I think Kruze is a very well considered piece using materials and forms that do justice to the raw materiality of the product, and the processes that re-interpret that materiality into the end result you see before you.
P4: In the current competitive market where brands are all extolling ‘the best in craftsmanship and quality’, how do you feel Boss Design has broadened the horizons of this distinction and helped redefine these hallmarks?
Fox: Well, firstly, that's easy! Boss Design has great upholstery quality, and a vision of making product right, and taking the time to get there. The designers labour over the details, and Boss also labour to make sure the details are considered for manufacture. It’s a great harmony between designer and manufacturer that can sometimes be overlooked.
P4: Speaking of that, can you tell me a little about some of the design challenges that Kruze faced and overcame?
Fox: Ultimately, the design challenges for Kruze were really making sure the details were right. Many prototypes were made to ensure this, some with only millimetres difference. Each time we inspected the latest prototype we'd really investigate every aspect we could – the smallest of details. We didn't simply want something that was only 'ok', because this was a collaboration of mutual labour and support.
P4: And, obviously that's something that has really impacted the way the market has so positively responded. Can you tell me a little about how Kruze has been received internationally?
Fox: Kruze is now sold all over the world. It has been seen on the Soccer World Cup as well as every UK news channel. It's simple, it's relatively affordable, and not so flamboyant that it upsets you after living with it for time.
P4: [laughs] I know exactly that feeling you're describing!
Fox: [laughs] Well I still have one in my office, the lounge version. My young children are drawn to it, and regularly sit and chat to their dad. It has this appeal, and all ages seem to welcome the product. But I still look forward to hearing about its growth in the future.
David Fox (1974) is a UK-based designer who has won an impressive suite of international design awards. His Kruze collection was designed in collaboration with Boss Design: a successful international brand with global production capability. As a mainstay in the British design world, Boss Design is one of Britain's top-tier design companies with manufacturing capacities in 4 continents and an international supply chain servicing more than 30 countries worldwide.
Read more about David Fox here.