Charles Dedman

I met Charles one year during MAKE PARTY. A skilled maker, he has the ability to bring his designs to life (a skill that I wish I had).

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If they were to make a toy action figure of you, what would your accessory be?

If I was making a toy action figure of myself, the accessory would be Otis my Golden Retriever! odd weapon but he keeps me calm and happy which is key to my life and career.

To what degree have you actually controlled the course your design life has taken?
I think I have been pretty controlling of my design life so far, in that I have made conscious tactful decisions on the way. My education has been based about design from GCSE, with an Art Foundation and BA in Furniture Design from Kingston University. I then resisted the lights and employers of London, to return to the Hampshire green hills to enrol at a respected local college in fine furniture making. It was there that I saw the potential of being my own 'brand' as I could design and make my pieces to a good level. The next and probably most important initiative I then took part in, was the Crafts Council Hothouse programme. It is a 6 month part time crash course in all things business, marketing and finance i.e. all the tricks to run a sustainable profitable business in the craft industry. On the course I found and focused on my role in the industry.

What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
I think I put myself out for potential opportunities more than most people. Meaning that I will travel far and wide to attend a talk or workshop with someone I admire or see potential work with. Instagram is great as gaining viability, especially if you dont have the large marketing budget. But I do believe people deal with people and direct conversation over a drink or food generates trust and often work. I also genuinely like to hear other designers stories and experiences, which can feed back into my business decisions.

What product or event inspired you to be a designer?
For me, the trigger for me wanting to a designer was visiting the Aram Store in the first year of University. It was the first time that I saw the design 'greats' on mass and it made me want to be part of the gang. I loved the scope for the chairs which are essentially a surface with legs to sit on... I started to wonder what my unique chair would be like

If you could become the designer of any existing item, what would you choose?
I would have loved to have designed my 1989 Volvo 240 Estate! My parents had one growing up, so they bring vivid happy memories. I bought one from a furniture maker/surfer last year, so I could transport large oak boards from the yard and furniture to shows. I love the lines and shape of the metalwork which remain striking today. Its also built like a bus and will run forever, I'm sure of it!

If you could go back in time and speak to your adolescent self, what advice would you give them about the design world?
If I would speak to my adolescent self (not too long ago to be honest), I would tell them that the design world if a fantastic place, full of interesting talented people. But expect to work VERY hard as nothing is guaranteed and be nice to people. Sounds odd but don't underestimate the power of being genuinely nice to other designers, give your time and experience for free and see more come back. The industry is too small to screw people over to get ahead, word gets around.