As I was busy stressing in the workshop with a deadline just one week away, I was pleased to be interrupted by Rycotewood’s newest tutor, (or maybe longest standing employee?) Lynn Jones. She briefly mentioned to me that she was having a talk after our lunch break with third year students, and suggested I came along. In hindsight, I am so glad my Friday fever didn’t get in the way, and I stuck to my intentions.

As we gathered around several cardboard boxes, I received a few sideways glances from the third years, and we all shared a curious wondering of what she had in store for us. The theme was ‘alternative ways to sketching’, and I still laugh at the memory of Lynn opening up one of the intriguing cardboard boxes, to reveal a great quantity of colourful bottle tops, going on to explain that this was just a scratch on the amount she had at home in her workshop.

Lynn’s advice gave me real confidence in pursuing my creative ideas, and reassurance that if you feel like you’re going out on a limb, then it is probably a good thing. I left with a buzzing brain of plans to make my own sketchbooks and notebooks from waste paper; knowing that it’s always possible to leave a design festival with a tote bag full of literature and no considered destination for it all, other than the recycling! A good tip for those fearful of a ‘clean page’.

The theme that threaded throughout the talk was ‘beautiful waste’, as Lynn demonstrated her love for hoarding, and finding new uses for waste products. She showed us some examples of past students’ work from Bucks University, as part of her recently deceased MA course. A coffee table formed from used coffee granules set in resin, a clock made from carefully selected bottle tops, and a toy car created by the addition of an old can; demonstrated alternative ways of ‘bread and butter earning’ for designer-makers, other than the dreaded fitted kitchen. I was particularly inspired by the way Lynn and her 12-year-old daughter were able to fit their found objects together in a manner of creative ways, the end products being the most beautiful brooches.

But apart from making jewelry and small products, I was also exposed to how waste materials can help inform us of colour, textures, scale, and form during the design process. A selection of small children’s toys, such as a 1:50 toy workman illustrated how our perception of scale can be expanded upon in the most playful of ways, shining a new light on shapes, forms and contexts of materials.

There are several phrases that have stuck with me since the talk and although design remains firmly subjective, it was refreshing to hear a different stance on the principles of furniture design. ‘I can’t stand brass hinges’, and ‘I’m not a fan of glass table tops’ aren’t rules for design, but are statements, intending to make us as students (the future of the furniture industry) question traditional aspects of furniture making, and to apply contemporary, and relevant thinking to the way we develop new concepts. So, I expect it is safe to say that we’ll be seeing a lot more colour, and a few more handmade hinges in this year’s furniture at Rycotewood, now that Dr Lynn Jones is back on the scene.