• Sidewinder II sculptural coffee table
  • Genie sculptural floating wooden shelf
  • Aguaviva high table
  • Corona wall lit art lamp
  • Beating wings
  • “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

  • WELCOME

    David Tragen is a designer and artist who creates contemporary, fine furniture, wall art and sculpture, combining traditional craftsmanship with digital design and production. His work is made to order, predominantly handcrafted in hardwood and can be customised to suit his clients’ specifications. Clients can also commission completely new, bespoke concepts and play a part in the design process itself.

    His inspiration comes primarily from beauty found in the natural world and his creations range from minimalist to more complex sculptural forms. Movement and flow are recurring themes, characterised by gentle undulating curves in his designs. He aims to bring a sense of zen to his clients’ living and working environments as well as making them more inspiring spaces to inhabit.

    Award-winning David’s journey as a contemporary furniture designer began in Barcelona in 1996 where he trained before returning to the UK in 2002 to gain two further years experience in two of the country’s leading ‘fine furniture’ workshops. Running his own business since 2004, his focus is on creating original designs and exquisitely made pieces. His clients, who appreciate the attention to detail which goes into creating an exclusive product, have spread from Manchester and Cheshire to the rest of the UK and overseas.

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    • Bespoke Furniture – Exclusive Luxury (part 2)

      The Material Difference

      One of the major benefits of commissioning a piece of unique, handmade furniture is the freedom the client has in choosing the materials and finish of their design. To use their imagination and the expertise of interiors specialists to commission a piece that meets their individual needs and matches perfectly with the decor in their beautiful home.

      In this blog, part two of my bespoke furniture series, I’ll outline some of possibilities (and limitations) of making exclusive handmade furniture to exacting specifications and help you to understand that it is possible to harmonise the form, function and durability of your commission by making good material and finish choices during the design process.

      The Choice Of Finish

      Your provider will always offer initial options regarding the  finish but there are some important considerations to add to the mix. Things like the function of the piece, whether it’s an interior or exterior project or exposure to food, drink or people are key factors to mull.

      Whilst it may be straightforward to swap a lacquered finish for an oiled one, if a client wants a low maintenance dining table then this change may not work. That’s why how the client will interact with their handmade furniture in their everyday lives is a vital aspect to explore.

      Harmonise Form And Function

      Certain designs, due to their complexity or the materials used, may lend themselves more readily to one finish than another. For example, my Sidewinder coffee table, with its hundreds of intimate facets, suits a lighter oil finish rather than a glossy lacquered look.

      Sidewinder II in situ

      Sidewinder II sculptural bespoke coffee table

      Then there are the design aspects and what finish works best with the piece itself.

      A handmade furniture maker often has their preferred finish, and this will be the result of much thought and experimentation. Personally, I prefer a matt effect as this enhances the beauty of the wood to my mind. Should you wish to substitute a matt for a satin finish, this is straightforward.  However a gloss finish is much more time consuming and will impact both the price and could offset the aesthetic impact of the piece.

      The Difference Of Materials

      As with much in life, customising the materials in handmade furniture can bring complications. The original material choice may be down to its technical properties, it’s aesthetic considerations or its availability in the desired form.

      My specialism is in handmade wooden furniture but in many cases the base material used makes no difference as to whether any customisation adds extra manufacturing complications.

      For example, some furniture makers shy away from using Padauk as its natural oils can bleed into the grain of a pale wood.  European Oak is durable for exterior projects, yet American Oak will rot much more quickly. Some timbers bend more readily either with steam or by lamination and there are few viable alternatives.

      My Genie floating shelf is made in very flexible Ash which lends itself to being laminated into tight curves. It can be made with other wood, but extra work is required to heat steam and glue the layers around the tightest of corners.

      Genie sculptural floating wooden shelf

      Genie sculptural floating wooden shelf

      On a personal level, I often prefer less open or coarse grain timbers for some projects. A ‘busy’ grain can sometimes detract too much from the overall form. Take Yew for example, this by nature a very characterful wood and when used in a rustic project can look superb. However, its knots, defects and wild grain patterns may be totally inappropriate for a more contemporary minimalist form.

      In short, the devil is in the detail. Yes, material and finish customisation for handmade furniture is always possible but trust your provider in guiding you to making the right choices that make for a beautiful result that will last and give pleasure for many years.

      To discuss your unique piece of handmade furniture contact me at david@davidtragen.co.uk or call 0161 928 5647. From there, we can discuss your desired materials and finishes and make great choices that ensure your unique design stays that way, indefinitely!

      Posted on September 21, 2020
    • Bespoke Furniture – Exclusive Luxury

      Bespoke, it’s a funny term isn’t it?  Most when hearing it would think of expensive Savile Row tailors or the time-served makers of hand-crafted shoes. While that’s true it’s also a general term that when applied to any product or service should assure the buyer of quality, exclusivity, luxury and uniqueness. You can certainly expect these benefits when commissioning bespoke furniture for your home.

      The term bespoke furniture (known as custom furniture in the US), can refer to a variety of types of customisation. It could be something as simple as a minimalist floating shelf, made to fit an alcove in your home. At the more complex end of the spectrum, for those who want something genuinely unique, then creating a one-of piece of bespoke furniture can be an involved and enjoyable affair. The design may be created especially with the client in mind to ensure the product meets their every aspiration. Time will be spent tweaking the design and could even involve a prototype being made. And those willing to invest the time and funds into the process are guaranteed to get a piece of art furniture that is utterly inimitable.

      Given that the term will be used in a variety of ways to reflect different elements that can be tailored, with varying degrees of complexity, this blog series aims to give you a little insider knowledge to give you a clearer picture of what might be involved. By understanding the different elements and processes better, my aim is to give you more confidence to explore your bespoke furniture ambitions.

      Gaudi bespoke double chair commissioned for Casa Batllo

      Gaudi bespoke double chair commissioned for Casa Batllo

      Bespoke?  It’s Complicated

      When chatting to potential clients at exhibitions about their bespoke furniture aspirations, occasionally there’s a hesitancy on their part to ask whether they can tailor one of my designs. Are they concerned they’ll offend me I wonder? After years of buying “off the shelf” from high street stores the notion of asking if they can make any design changes suddenly seems awkward. But if they want something that will wow their friends and family, that process starts with a wish list and ongoing dialogue with the artisan provider.

      Some providers offer no customisation whatsoever, as their business model is based on economies of scale and replicable manufacture. For others, like me, it’s their main selling point. It is therefore useful to have a sense of where your provider sits in this continuum before asking whether you can have sprinkles on top.

      Vitulus customised floating shelf

      Vitulus floating shelf, available in a variety of lengths, timbers and colour of detailing on request

      It’s vital to appreciate that at its core bespoke furniture is as much about design and aesthetics as it is function. The most sublime examples of handmade furniture are often considered works of art. How far the client wants to explore these ideas is entirely related to level of funding, the clients wishes, the input of commissioning agents like architects or interior designers, the feasibility of the design and the skills of the craftsperson.

      Assuming none of these criteria compromise the client’s aspirations for their commission then the result will always be an astonishing piece of fully customised bespoke furniture.

      And even with some limits the possibilities for excellence remain.

      To discuss your unique piece of bespoke furniture contact me at david@davidtragen.co.uk or call 0161 928 5647. From there, we can discuss your bespoke furniture goals and start to create antiques of the future.

      Posted on July 16, 2020
    • The reluctant extrovert

      There’s no question that when it comes to expressing myself, I find it so much easier to do through a physical object than through words. But that is far from the only reason why this is my first blog in almost two years. I have naively believed that my work should do all the talking and in a push to expand my portfolio over the last few years, communicating with the public has been neglected. But avoidance rather than neglect is probably a more honest view of things. Talking about myself in front of an audience (on a page / screen or in person) is something that fills me with dread. When teaching languages or woodwork, talking in front of a group of people is straightforward. However I prefer to share aspects of myself only with a close circle. Much to my shame, I was reminded of the paucity of my blogs by the editor of Living Edge magazine who recently interviewed me and it led to some more introspection. This isn’t the first time I have been forced to ask questions of myself.

      At a spring exhibition last year a back-handed compliment also made me stop and think; “With work like that, no wonder you are so smug!” I have always preferred to treat people who come onto my stand in the same way I would like to be treated when I enter a shop. I generally know what I like and don’t want someone else to try to persuade me to buy something that I may not want.  As soon as I feel the sales assistant hovering, I’m out of the door quicker than Usain Bolt. Therefore I was surprised that someone could view my wish to allow them thinking space as self-satisfaction.  I am by nature a self-critical person so her assessment felt very far from the truth. It is so easy to incorrectly read a book by its cover, but perhaps that was mostly what people were getting to see – the cover but not the content so much?

      Society has changed over the last 15 years. Reality TV has introduced the idea that anyone can be a celebrity and being famous is now more of an aspiration than ever. This is particularly relevant when a lot of today’s youth feel that their prospects aren’t great and that fame is the only way to get ahead. Despite not being a fan of these shows, nor of the idea of fame, I have to confess that I almost succumbed to the pull myself. The desire to be a bit more open and more visible led me to throw caution to the wind and apply to take part in the recent  BBC series, The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts. After the initial phone interview followed by a recorded Skype call there was a four week wait before hearing back from the casting department. Plenty of time to ask myself, do I really want to expose my weaknesses, limitations and be potentially be revealed as ”an imposter”? Objectively, I can stand back and assess that after twenty years of doing what I do I have accrued a lot of skills and knowledge and also developed my own style. However I am acutely aware of the fact there will always be people out there who are better than me in all these aspects and this is what has inhibited my sharing process. By the time the email arrived to say that I was still in the running, I had convinced myself that it was bad idea and politely made my excuses and withdrew.

      A client recently wrote a lovely email thanking me for her Genie shelf. She also commented that she’d love to know more about what goes on behind the scenes both from a making perspective but also my thought process behind the work . This felt like another reminder that people are interested not just in the product but also the creative process and it was time to remedy this.

       

      A benefit of this introspection

      Self-reflection is a positive thing providing it doesn’t stray too far into the realms of navel gazing. It gives us an opportunity to see how our personality and patterns of behaviour can be an obstacle to moving forward. A combination of avoidance, introversion and possibly imposter syndrome had caused me to reveal  little content and show primarily the cover of my book. So by starting to write about my approach (I have a few themes I have started and then put on hold when the introvert took control again) I have had a chance to put into words my own internal process which I had so far taken for granted. Opening this dialogue with myself has helped me recognise more easily how ideas are born and what ties my work together, things that have been happening on a very subconscious level previously. This knowledge is helpful in informing future decisions about my work and therefore something so crucial in my development as an artist.

      So, with all this in mind I am looking to do things a little differently. I am about to publish an e-newsletter which will go to subscribers, most of whom I have met in person. This contains more information about the making and thought process behind my work. Some of the content will be exclusive or will be published well in advance of social media / my blog. If you’d like to be added to my subscriber list please email me with the subject “Subscribe to newsletter”. Please be assured that I won’t be sharing your email address with anyone or over filling your inbox with news about what I had for breakfast (a bowl of bran and a cup of tea if you must know).

      I still won’t be pouncing on people at exhibitions, but intend to deny my naturally introverted self from running the show. However, please feel free to approach me if you’d like to know more about my work. Despite valuing the time I spend working on my own I always come away from shows reflecting on how much I enjoyed the interaction with the public!

      Posted on July 1, 2019
    • Best in Show at Simply Cheshire

      The Spring and summer months are the busiest when it comes to exhibiting my work and the season kicked off with RHS Wisley in April where the three new floating shelves were really well received by the public.This was followed by Simply Cheshire at Arley Hall in May where a panel of four judges were unanimous in their choice of my work as the Best in Show. I’m pictured below with one of the judges, Noddy Holder, in our matching caps. (Photography credit – Christina Quine.)

      Posted on July 31, 2017
    • 2017 Exhibitions

      If you would like to know where you can see my work around the UK, I’m currently booked in for five events;

      27 April – 1 May      Craft and Design Fair, RHS Wisley

      20 – 21 May              Simply Cheshire, Arley Hall

      20-21 June                Royal Cheshire Show, Clay House Farm

      19 – 28 August         Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design, Cheltenham

      13 -15 October           Wilmslow Art Trail, St Bartholemew’s Chirch

       

       

       

      Posted on April 17, 2017