Manchester-based furniture designer Dan Marc first came to our attention when he released his debut collection - a four-piece table range inspired by the design and functionality of the mid-century era. Earlier this month, we caught up to discuss inspirations, British-manufacturing and future plans...
R&E: Hey Dan, it's great to have you here on the R&E blog. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what first prompted your interest in furniture-making?
I grew up in a small fishing town called Grimsby on the East Coast of England, UK. My father was a huge influence on me growing up, turning his hand to almost anything and everything. I was curious about so many processes and spent a lot time studying how he made or fixed items that cherished. When I look back at this time, it is definitely where I picked up my passion for designing and creating pieces. I embarked on my journey around seven years ago, initially setting up in Preston and recently moving to Manchester to open a small studio.
R&E: Your furniture beautifully combines a simple mid-century aesthetic with contemporary functionality; what would you say are your main influences when conceiving a piece of work?
Thank you! My main influence right now, and has been for some time is ‘objects of use’ during World War One & Two. Since I can remember, I have had a serious amount of curiosity in objects that have been designed and used for function by the military. There is something about those pieces that I get lost in when I think about their purpose and journey. Material tells us an honest story and our imagination can run away with how something may have been used in the past.
R&E: What comes first, the materials or the design?
Currently, I am finding both are working together. I like to work unrestricted and let my mind wander to form ideas. Once I have a solution, I go with whatever feels right in that moment, it’s what makes a piece as honest as it can be.
R&E: Is there any part of the process that you find the most rewarding?
Wow! There are so many rewarding aspects of the design process, it’s one of the reason I’m grateful for doing what I do. That ‘light bulb’ moment when an idea clicks is always going to be rewarding, I feel it is in this moment that you feel a sense of success with your ability to understand an idea, work through it and expose yourself through your creation.
One of the most important parts of my brand is the people I get to work with. By collaborating with local makers and contractors in the city, I start to understand why those people do what they do. Without the people I meet choosing their path in life, I wouldn't be able to do what I do, and for this I am thankful.
R&E: In recent years, the spotlight has focused back on to British manufacturing. How important do you think this is?
Manufacturing locally is very important to me. I love feeding back into the community and in doing so I know I am creating jobs and contributing to healthy economic growth - not to mention the inherent quality involved in local manufacturing. Sacrificing quality in the name of cost is, for me, not an option.
R&E: Good to hear! Your Epoch collection takes inspiration from the Second World War, British ‘Utility Furniture Scheme’. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
When a friend handed me a book on the ‘Utility Furniture Scheme’ a couple of years ago, I was immediately intrigued by the design philosophy that had been closely interpreted by so many influential designers of the mid-century era.
It was around this time that I had started looking closely at the military stretcher; I had picked up a couple of stretchers from a local surplus yard that week and quickly become fascinated by the simplicity in aesthetic and construction.
I started to peel back certain elements in my mind and use the philosophy of rationing material to approach a method in design that would later lay foundations for my approach to my first range, The Epoch Collection.
R&E: What's your favourite piece from the collection and why?
Coffee Table. There is a definite connection through conversation around a coffee table, and it is usually where most of my ideas form and where people share their own ideas with me.
R&E: No doubt you’ve learnt some lessons over the years. What advice do you have for anyone else who is looking to pursue a career in creating?
The next step in anyone’s life, especially in creativity is going to be full of crazy emotions and experiences. I think if I can give any advice, it would be to remain true to yourself, be open to new challenges and embrace them. If you’re a young business, remember, you WILL make mistakes, but those mistakes don’t define you, what defines you is how you overcome them.
Along the way, you will meet so many inspiring and aspiring creators; get to know them! Talk to people, go for coffee and learn about why they do what they do. All of the above will help you to form circles that make one another better. I have met some great friends that I will remain close to for the rest of my life since becoming a designer, R&E included. It adds value.
R&E: Finally, what does 2016 hold for Dan Marc? Are there any projects you can shed some light on?
I head to Japan at the beginning of May which I am really excited about. I’ve had a lot of interest in the last year over in Japan, so we are linking with a few friends and stores to look at making DM more widely available internationally. So if anyone reading this is in Japan, then let's grab coffee.
For the last couple of weeks I have been working with my good friend, Alex Devol of Wooden & Woven on a collaboration that I can’t wait to release. We have been working on a story to reignite the once loved art of writing a letter.
To finish of 2016, I will be releasing a completely new collection of furniture which I am sure you’ll be happy to hear. I can’t wait for you to see this one, R&E - we will be hosting a launch party and dinner in Manchester with lots of winter food, presented by a food blogger and stylist, along with friends from other brands across the UK, and you’re invited!
R&E: We can't wait! Thanks for taking the time to chat to us.