Our founder and creative director take pride in their buying process — they love to discover creative minds and makers. John Tildesley of Leicestershire-based Wild + Wood is one such designer.
The brand takes outdoor living as its starting point, and is driven by John’s obsession to find a quiet place to run wild, gather and forage. His foray into design began when he left school, “I [started] an apprenticeship as a bricklayer - a job I loved - it was hands-on, with a focus on hand eye coordination, skill, and a pride in the finished result. It gave me a great sense of achievement: at the end of the day I could stand back and admire the results.”
John eventually left the building industry behind, as he wanted something more creative. However, not knowing the direction to go in, he stepped back into education with an open mind, and willingly followed the journey that proceeded: “being a practical kind of person, product design came about without any conscious effort, to make an item that has a visual attraction, practicality and an everyday purpose is perfect.”
To discover more about this ethically minded label, we had a virtual chat with the man himself…
Why have you chosen to work predominantly with concrete?
I was drawn to concrete as a material of choice because of its versatility and quirky industrial edginess that’s still accessible. It has wonderful visual qualities, and once we have finished the surface by hand, it is very tactile. By using it in unusual ways, it [transforms] from what is normally considered a construction material into the domestic environment, questioning the perceived view.
What are your design inspirations and creative processes like?
My inspiration is a pared back Scandinavian look — the effortless, understated simplicity that is easy on the eye and sits in harmony within the world. The creative process to get to that point is mostly one of contradiction: my impulse is to be overly complicated and pragmatic. The end result is, in most cases, to simplify, pare it back and balance the visual feel.
For the wooden products, where do you source and treat them?
There is a wonderful seamless balance between some natural materials and the concrete — the use of leather on the doorstops and oak for the clock hands and shelving for example. Sourcing the wood leads to a range of chopping boards. We are very lucky to have a prestigious timber yard nearby; the timber for renovation following the fire at Windsor Castle was supplied from there.
I use European oak, mainly because it is renowned for its quality, and the fact it hasn’t traveled too far is ideal too. One treatment I use in particular is a process called ebonising — the blackening of the timber is a natural effect, the tanning within the oak coming into contact with iron turns the wood black. Part of the beauty is in the natural simplicity.
How do you maintain sustainable practises throughout your work?
We are always looking at ways to lighten our footprint on the planet. We have tweaked our mix so we now use less cement and all of our scrap concrete is stored in a bulk bag to avoid contamination, it can then be easily collected and recycled.
We [also] try to avoid plastic in our packaging, use scrunched up recycled paper as padding, and to seal our boxes, we have an old gummed paper dispenser that operates with cogs and springs that make a satisfying sound when you pull the lever.
What are you working on at the moment that we can look forward to?
Projects we are working on include lighting and tables. We have dipped our toes into lighting in the past but would love to come back and produce a range using what we have learnt — this same thought process is developing new tables too.
Shop our Wild + Wood edit here.