Sally Wanless

Tom Cooper





On this Artist Series, we speak to Edinburgh based, Tom Cooper a furniture maker and designer. 


How did you get interested in wood work, was it from an early age? 

Tom: I was always into making things with my hands even from an early age. From lego and meccano to model aircraft, tinkering in my dad's workshop, but working and creating with wood didn't come until my art and design foundation course at nene college in Northampton. During the course I discovered the versatility of using wood was ideal to make and realise the sculptural forms that I was developing.


What is your creative process like during a project? 

Tom: It really depends upon whether its a piece of furniture for a client or a speculative exhibition piece. Normally when it's a piece for a client I will visit their house to get an idea of the space and existing decor as well as the furniture's function , then look for key words from the client for the look of the piece, whether is slim and elegant or heavy and bold.

We will go through my portfolio of work to look for more ideas and types of timber, then I will produce a rough sketch during the meeting with dimensions to go away with to produce a more accurate picture of the piece of furniture. However most clients in recent years after having developed quite a unique style of furniture will let me create from a blank canvas, trusting in my years of designing and making furniture.

However if it's a speculative piece for an exhibition or gallery then the piece will tend to be taken from a rough sketchbook idea and then developed as I make it in the workshop, but sometimes a piece will even evolve from just playing around with different shapes of wood or even from the process of curving and bending pieces of wood.




How is the process of sourcing the wood? do you travel far?

Tom:  I will tend to source most of the wood from small local sawmills within Central Scotland and the Scottish Borders. 


I will tend to source most of the wood from small local sawmills within Central Scotland and the Scottish Borders. 



However if the wood required is more specialised or needs certain qualities then I will source wood from large timber yards importing timber from America, africa or the far east, but the majority of wood I try to source locally, as I feel it is important to support local business. 
I have in the past gone as far as buying whole trees (2-3 tonnes each) and planked and dried myself with the help of local businesses, there by having complete control over the processing of the timber which ensures the best of quality.


What would be your dream collaboration/project? 

Tom: It would probably be with a sculptor like, Antony Gormley or Andy Goldsworthy making large curved outdoor installation wooden sculptural forms.


What inspires your work? 

Tom: The patterns, shapes and texture found in nature, particularly plant forms.






You're looking at your dream house, what does it look like? 

Tom: Hmm.. Probably a quaint wee cottage in the countryside with plenty of out buildings for a workshop and a large woodland.


Whats the best thing about living in Scotland? is that home for you? 


Tom: I would say the friendliness of the people and the more relaxed way of life, compared to Northampton in Midlands where I originally come from.




Who are the artists + designers that inspire you? 

Tom: Andy Goldsworthy, anish kapoor, Antony Gormley, William Morris, Ron arad and Angus Ross.


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