• Water Mill Gardens bespoke sculpture
  • Sidewinder II sculptural coffee table
  • Transmission illuminated sculpture
  • Genie sculptural floating wooden shelf
  • Aguaviva high table
  • “We so enjoyed the process from beginning to end. It was a journey that encompassed and introduced us to your world. A world of creativity, passion and perfection. Such a privilege to be able to enjoy your stunning creations in our home.”

    Joanne and Russel


    I am a designer and artist creating original, contemporary furniture, wall art, sculpture and decorative lighting. I make both open and limited edition pieces to my own design, as well as working closely with clients on bespoke commissions.

    All my designs are made to order, ensuring that whether you choose a piece from my existing collection, or commission something wholly unique, it will have been created for you, by me, with intense focus and attention to detail.

    I believe that by introducing beautiful things to the home, whether furniture or art, offers benefits that far exceed the aesthetics. The poet John Keats said: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Owning something that makes your heart leap a little at every sight, bringing a future heirloom into your home, is an eternal pleasure.

    I find my inspiration primarily in the natural world and regularly use themes of movement and flow, characterised by clean lines and gently undulating curves. My work is predominantly handmade and blends traditional craftsmanship with digital design and production.

    My creative journey began in Barcelona in 1996, where I originally trained before returning to the UK, in 2002, to gain two further years’ experience in two of the country’s leading fine furniture workshops. In 2004 I established my own business, and now work from a converted barn in rural Cheshire.  Since setting up I have provided furniture and art to some of the most beautiful homes in the UK and overseas, as well as in businesses, churches, synagogues and schools.

    To discover how we might work together to create a beautiful and unique piece for you, call me on 0161 928 5647 or email me


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    • My night with the Hollywood A-listers

      “Are you available on 6th December for the World premiere of Avatar 2?”  The conversation is usually a little more mundane when I call my partner, Shireen; what time she’ll be home and whether the salmon is past its use by date.  However this wasn’t just any week.

      Rewind 7 days and I’d just woken up on a Sunday morning to an email from a certain Jon Landau regarding commissioning my coffee table, Sidewinder. Was this the real Jon Landau, the producer of Titanic and Avatar, or an elaborate scam? No sooner had I read the email, the phone rang and a charming gentleman with an American accent, informed me that it was Jon and he was keen to proceed with the order. It was for his new apartment in New Zealand and by the next day he had placed an order for Sidewinder, Aguaviva and Genie.

      By the end of the week I’d selected some lovely Cherry wood, roughed it out and sent Jon a short video of the timber, left to season for a few weeks. Within hours Jon acknowledged my email and asked me if I’d be interested in attending the premiere a week later. Does wood grow on trees? Clearly, I accepted, thanked Jon for his generosity and wished him all the best for his big night.

      After a frenetic week of work with the additional task of sourcing a suitable outfit for the night, we drove to a friend’s house in North London, changed into our attire and made our way to the West End.

      Negotiating a rammed Leicester square in high heels (Shireen, not me) was no easy task but we made it through security and onto the blue carpet. We were ushered past Kate Winslet and James Cameron who were doing their interviews, took our mandatory photos with the 10 metre high backdrop and then were told to proceed to the 2nd screen for the general public.

      David Tragen and partner Shireen at Avatar world premiere

      Somewhat disappointedly we left the blue carpet, made our way past the paparazzi, only to be told that our tickets were actually for screen one.

      So, we made another trip round the square, past a confused security guard who recognised me from the first check and back onto the blue carpet to give the paparazzi a second chance at snapping us.  We squeezed past Sigourney Weaver and her entourage into the main cinema and took our seats with Bill Bailey sat on the row behind us. With our complementary glass of champagne, still pinching ourselves that this was happening, we settled  down to an opening orchestral arrangement. Edith Bowman then  introduced Jon Landau who welcomed the cast and James Cameron onto the stage to celebrate the sequel of Avatar as well as the general public’s return to the cinemas again, after the pandemic. Armed with our 3D glasses, we were transported to the jaw-dropping planet of Pandora  and with some breath-taking CGI we felt totally immersed in the experience. The three plus hours of the film flew by.

      We were then ferried across London to the National History Museum for the after-party. I’d never been to the Museum before so arriving at this beautiful, ornate, Victorian building, lit up in a marine blue was truly something to behold.

      Natural History Museum, London

      We were shown through to the Hintze Hall, with the giant whale skeleton suspended above us,  lit up in blue of course, and we were treated to champagne and the finest hors d’oeuvres from start to finish. Midway through the party we turned to face a drumming troupe perform a Samba routine and lo and behold there was Bill Bailey again, right in front of us this time, disguising his willingness to be near me again by strutting his stuff to the beats.

      The high point of the night was receiving a text from Jon to let me know he was at the bar and to come over and say hello. For someone promoting their new film with so many people to chat to, it was lovely that he wanted to meet the person who was going to make his furniture.  I don’t always get to meet my clients, particularly those who live overseas,  so being able to make that personal connection just added to the whole experience. Jon and his wife Julie, made me feel like a million dollars, complementing me about my work, introducing me to their friends, showing them photos of Genie, as well as suggesting a snap of us together.

      Jon Landau, David Tragen and partner Shireen

      Making three portfolio pieces for one client is already special but adding this fantastic night to the commission and being able to share it with Shireen made the whole experience truly memorable. Back in the dusty workshop the next day, dressed for the occasion, it dawned on me that Pandora wasn’t the only alien world I’d been transported to, but with the aid of a tuxedo I felt remarkably at ease in this unfamiliar environment.

      Posted on June 29, 2023
    • Transmission at the 2021 [d]arc awards at Fabric, London

      Transmission was shortlisted to the top 10 in the decorative kit category at the [d]arc awards which I had the pleasure of attending at Fabric in London at the end of March 2022. The [d]arc awards is a unique concept utilising  arc and darc magazines’ reputation as being the most widely read and respected lighting design publications in the world. Voting was open to industry professionals only (independent architectural lighting designers, light artists, interior designers, product designers and architects).

      The night was a celebration of decorative lighting with a host of installations and of course the nail-biting countdown of winners in a variety of categories. Transmission was awarded 6th place in the decorative kit category and as a peer to peer voting process, this felt like quite an achievement. Thank-you to everybody who voted for Transmission – this served as great encouragement to keep following this new tangent to the work I am more known for.

      A full list of all the winners in each category can be found here.









      Posted on April 6, 2022
    • When working with a designer-maker is worth the extra money

      Whether you are a multi-millionaire or somebody living on the bread line, everybody wants to feel like they are getting value for money. So when you compare the price of individually made items, usually created by an artisan, with those made in a factory, the price difference is often so significant that it doesn’t seem worth exploring further. Generally speaking, larger scale production runs will bring economies of scale which can then be passed onto the end consumer. So surely only larger companies can survive in a world of supply and demand? As a designer and artist myself, creating bespoke designs as well as both open and limited edition pieces, I wanted to shed some light on why it may be worth delving a little deeper before dismissing products, based on price alone.

      Creativity as a driver

      Larger companies will often choose designs that are relatively straightforward to produce in order to keep their costs down. For example curved surfaces are much more time consuming to produce than flat ones and very often don’t lend themselves to minimising costs. However the artisan may put creative expression very high on their priority list (I certainly do) and therefore keeping costs down by not producing curved work would feel like too big a compromise.

      Sidewinder sculptural coffee table

      Sidewinder sculptural coffee table


      Customisation or bespoke designs

      Whilst the business model of the artisan may not be about economies of scale, the fact that they make each piece one at a time, may allow them more flexibility to customise their work to your specifications. Customisation comes in many forms, it could be as simple as offering you an exact paint colour to match your wall tiles or creating a longer version of an existing design. The most complex form of customisation would be to create a completely new, bespoke design tailored to your exact needs. Generally speaking, the smaller the company is, the more likely they will be to entertain some degree of customisation. Whilst a cost will usually be associated with any changes, it is easier for a small boat to change direction than an oil tanker.



      Not all of the larger companies will choose to over simplify the end product to keep costs down. However what the micro business offers is exclusivity by the fact that they can only produce a limited number of items every year. If your uniqueness is expressed not only by your personality but also by the items you buy, then this must be worth considering.


      The limitations of digital production

      Digital production has made huge steps forward in the last 10 years and machines can now carve or 3D print some of the most complex forms. However there are still objects that only humans can produce. For example there are times when the thickness or profile of a piece can be too delicate for a CNC milling machine to tackle. I know that making the fine end detail on Genie (see profile picture and below) would be impossible by CNC as both the vibrations of the machinery as well as the grain direction, would cause the tip to simply shatter into smithereens.


      Genie sculptural floating wooden shelf

      Genie sculptural floating wooden shelf


      Lost in Translation

      Working with a designer-maker for example, who owns their own business, means that each client is important to them. If there is one person responsible for sales, design, making the item and shipping it, your wishes are less likely to be lost when passed from person to person. Having this direct contact with the designer and maker will give you more of a sense of connection to the final piece.



      Finding an employee who cares about the quality of production in same way as the “one man band” is like finding a needle in a haystack. Whilst any successful company will make sure that quality control is part of their process, only the person making the piece will know whether all the procedures have been followed correctly.

      By way of example, a standard woodworking glue needs to be clamped within 10 minutes of being applied to a woodworking joint, otherwise the glue will not be as effective. On the surface, the joint of the chair leg may seem fine. However a few years later, when your child tries his balancing act on two legs, the joint may fail.  The designer-maker will be far more invested than an employee in a larger company in ensuring that the piece is made to last a lifetime.


      Precision furniture making using a Japanese marking knife


      Pride and job satisfaction

      If accountability is the proverbial “stick” to ensure that standards are kept high, then pride and job satisfaction are the “carrot”. Having direct contact with the end consumer and knowing that they are pleased with my work, really motivates me. People sometimes ask me if it difficult to say goodbye to one of my creations, especially if it has taken many days if not weeks to make.  The positive feedback I get from clients makes all the hard work worth it and knowing that it brings pleasure to a wider audience is a fantastic feeling.  Some of the work will inevitably go unnoticed: when gluing boards of wood together, side by side, I will mock up various permutations and to see which the best match in terms of grain figuring and wood tone. The client will only see the end results and will be unaware of the thought that has gone into it but knowing that I have done the best job I can provides me with job satisfaction.


      The story provides meaning

      By working with one person, you not only know that your wishes won’t be lost in translation and that they are accountable for their work but it doesn’t just end there. By understanding more about the journey of the artist in not only their development but also the creation of each product, it brings more meaning to what you are buying. Perhaps their back story is particularly inspiring and helps you to feel more connected to them as a person and this will bring extra value to your purchase. Social media has become an increasingly popular way for businesses to communicate with the public and show some of the behind the scenes information which will help to give you a fuller picture.


      David Tragen Instagram screenshot July 21


      Final thoughts

      Just because someone is an artisan , an artist, or a designer-maker doesn’t necessarily mean that they are invested in creating the best piece they can every time. As a client you may need to do a little more work to look further into their website and social media to see the quality of the pieces they create and read the testimonials. However if you feel reassured by their ethos and have taken a little more time to consider why their work is priced as it is, then you are in a better position to assess whether that price is worth paying or not.

      Feel free to get in touch by email for more information about the commissioning process or if you are interested in exploring ways of creating an original piece of contemporary furniture, wall art or sculpture.

      Posted on July 23, 2021
    • Introducing Transmission – a groundbreaking illuminated sculpture

      The pandemic has undoubtedly been a challenging time for all of us. I am very grateful that I have been able to throw myself into work as a distraction and this new piece has really been at the core of helping me get by. It took just over a year to develop, with large breaks to keep on top of my commissioned projects. Now it’s completed, I wanted to share some of the process of how the idea came together.

      Since starting as a woodworker in 1995, I have always found the making process to be extremely absorbing and calming. Coupled with this is the energy that a new piece creates for me, derived from the excitement I get from turning an intangible idea into something physical. In turn my hope is that the viewer will also experience some of the joy that I feel for the piece.


      The first steps

      Over the last three years I have sought to move my work further into the realm of sculpture, pushing functional constraints to one side to be able to fully express my creative interests. With this has also come the desire to adopt new techniques and materials and my workshop has slowly adapted to my newly learned mould making and resin casting techniques. Cold cast bronze has become a new go to technique and material, as seen in Abstract #1 and Convergence (left and right respectively below).


      Abstract #1 & Convergence

      In my longer term picture these two pieces were always going to be stepping stones before moving onto to a much more involved project, even though at the time of designing these pieces I didn’t know what that would be. However the choice of the apparently unimaginative name Abstract #1 was deliberate, as I wanted to have a clear and outwardly visible reference point from where this new direction had started.


      Early ideas

      By January of 2020 I was playing with new ideas for a sculpture with a radial theme but when the pandemic broke it soon became a ‘lockdown project’. Over the course of the Spring the themes were expanded to include wave forms, a firm favourite of mine, and at the same time linking the ideas with another interest – The Op art movement . As the theme of flow features in my work a lot yet the objects I create are static, introducing the moiré effect into the design was a way of artificially creating this perceived movement via visual distortions.

      A favourite Art book of mine

      As an admirer of Bridget Riley’s curve paintings, I wondered what would happen to the waves in her early work when they left the canvas. Was there a way I could keep the flow going by joining the start and the end of the wave in a circular motion?  At the same time I was curious to see how bringing the visual distortions of the 2D world into a third dimension would work.


      Initial sketches

      The sketchpad has always been the starting point for ideas and the initial drawings combined the ripples from Bridget Riley’s paintings with a circular twisting motion. The motion needed to start from the centre and the wave effect would increase as it travelled outwards. At the point that I felt the ideas required fleshing out in more detail, I turned to the computer to bring them a bit closer to life.


      From sketch to computer

      The first few iterations created on the computer were designed purely as a sculpture. Abstract #1’s convex form was still floating about in my psyche, so my initial direction was to create the waves on a convex, yet much flatter surface. To minimise the work involved, I had envisaged a diameter of about 300-325mm.

      A render of one of the early iterations

      Whilst I liked the “flowery” edges , the idea seemed so much more complete with the wave energy dissipating completely but trying to squeeze all of that detail into 325mm simply wouldn’t work. This is the point when one needs to flip from the constraints set by a designer and adjust to what the narrative requires. To bring an end to the life of the wave, the piece would have to be larger and the next version expanded to 425 mm in diameter. “In for a penny, in for a pound”.

      The whole creative journey is one of constantly jumping from right to left brain and then back again. Some of the decisions are made subconsciously using instinct and the logical left brain needs to kept at bay and only put in gear once the play has been allowed to happen. Once I had altered the design to finish with a round edge, I played with the idea of building the waves onto a concave dish and it soon became apparent that this form really lent itself to introducing a way of lighting the surface to exaggerate the peaks and troughs. After a few more experiments, the final idea (below) crystallised.

      Transmission rendered in a brushed bronze finish

      Posted on June 28, 2021
    • Bespoke Furniture – Exclusive Luxury (Part 4)


      A bespoke design

      In the first three parts of this series I have looked at the factors which play a part in determining the price when you want to customise furniture to your tastes. The choice of materials, the finish, the size of the piece and its location will all cause the quote to fluctuate, however the factor which could  have the greatest impact on price is the overall design itself.


      It’s all in the brief

      Asking a designer to come up with ideas for a simple minimalist, rectilinear table could be solved with a big slab of wood and four block legs. A few simple sketches and a discussion about proportions could settle the brief quickly.  If the brief is for an organic table which is a nod to the clients obsession with sharks, then clearly this will involve a lot more head scratching during the design phase. Most artists and designers will charge you a fee for coming up with these solutions and the fee will often depend on how elaborate your brief is.


      Visualising the concept

      Ordinarily, you will need to see some representation of what the artist is proposing to create before giving the go ahead but the complexity of this may also affect the design fee.  This can be done in many forms: rough sketches, 2D “flat” technical drawings, perspective drawings / watercolours , computer 3D render, 3D computer walk through / tour in video form or finally a scale or full size model.  If the concept is relatively straightforward then a simpler representation may well be sufficient. However you may not be able to translate technical drawings in your own mind as easily as a designer can so this also need to be considered.  When it comes to seating, it is not uncommon for a designer to make a prototype first to double check that their solution is comfortable for you.  As I mentioned in the third part of this series, it is worth remembering that the designer / maker’s time is usually much more expensive than the materials.

      Initial sketches of bespoke dining table

      Initial sketches of bespoke dining table

      2D technical line drawing

      2D technical line drawing

      Computer render of dining table

      Computer render of dining table


      Producing the design – Straight v Curved

      The complexity of the design often translates into complexity of making and it is useful to know that,  generally speaking, straight edges and flat surfaces involve much less work than curved ones.  This is because machines and tools are designed to deal with rectilinear work in the quickest time. As soon as a curve is introduced, however shallow it may be, it will change the maker’s approach.  Not only may the tools used require a more freehand (and sometimes less predictable) approach but custom made templates and jigs will often have to be made to guide the tools or hold the piece whilst it is being worked on.

      Flat surfaces and straight lines will minimise labour costs

      Flat surfaces and straight lines will minimise labour costs 



      The word customisation can sometimes be associated with the excess of having too much choice and a good designer or artist should tell you that by adding hundreds and thousands, raspberry sauce and a chocolate flake you will no longer appreciate the salted caramel.

      Be guided by the experience of the designer, but also listen in to your gut instinct as you know yourself best. To hone in, ask yourself , how does their proposal make you feel? If their initial ideas don’t quite hit the mark, don’t be afraid to ask questions about tweaking their proposals.  Creating a bespoke design together can be a very rewarding process and when it clicks, the results of this collaboration will be something that you and other generations will cherish for many years to come.

      Posted on February 6, 2021