Described by Design Week as “an extraordinary mind”, I’ve never been one to conform…
I was one of those children who was always making things and to be honest, I’ve never stopped!
I loved sculpture but I opted to study Textiles at Central St. Martins. However, it soon became clear that my internal desire to create three-dimensional forms was irrepressible and the result has been a journey from knitted sculptures to lighting design and beyond! However sculptural my pieces were, I always wanted my forms to have a function and in true William Morris style: be both beautiful and useful. Within a few years of graduating, I was delighted to be recognised for my innovative approach and high-quality execution by the Society of Designer Craftsmen (founded by William Morris and Walter Crane) when I was awarded Membership and subsequently Fellowship a decade later.
A Christmas window display commission for Wallis in 1993 led me to develop the textile sculptures I’d made, as light-shades and so my Knitted Chandeliers were born. My first clients included Harvey Nichols and Liberty with John Lewis, Heals and Purves & Purves following, along with numerous stores around the world. This design swiftly achieved both national and international press acclaim, starting a revolution in contemporary lighting design. Both quirky and classic, the Knitted Chandelier seems to evoke an uncanny loyalty from customers who continue to return over 25 years later. You’ll find some of these in my Etsy shop. Several of my designs became best-sellers and over time, retailers were commissioning exclusive designs so I became adept at working to tight briefs and budgets and streamlining production; with the majority of designs still being hand made, all produced in the UK. This journey along with subsequent projects and commissions I’ve worked on, have involved a vast array of media, so my knowledge of different materials and processes has expanded considerably over the years. This includes: textiles, paper, polyprop, wood, metal, acetate and recycled and upcycled materials.
I also collaborate with other trusted makers when needed to offer a wide range of solutions in a variety of media.
Always up for designing a showstopper, I pride myself on a meticulous and pragmatic approach and I’ve built my reputation on innovation, high quality, reliability and integrity.
I work both from the Extraordinary Design studio in London or in-house with companies on a project basis on: Concepts, Realisation and Production.
Clients include: Harvey Nichols, Liberty, Heals, Wallis, The John Lewis Partnership, Le Creuset, Royal Caribbean International, Ideal Home Show, The Times, Team Saatchi, The National Theatre, The Old Vic, The Young Vic and Royal Festival Hall.
Random facts about Dan
• I love ironmongery, particularly beautiful and useful tools – one of my favourites is a plumb bob
• I believe great design & artwork can transform a space however big or small
• I hate poor design – things that put style over substance and don’t work properly
• I love measuring and have a tape measure in every handbag including an emergency
one in my trusty Berlingo!
• I’ve worn odd socks all my adult life; selecting colours that work together is the first design decision of the day
• I worked in Cambodia, helping local people design and develop products for the European market
• My Knitted Chandeliers once sold to a condom shop in Berlin!
• I’m very analytical and am curious as to how things work and love finding out about new techniques or processes
• I’ve been a business coach and mentor to other creative businesses, so when I’m working with clients, it’s not just about the aesthetics and practicalities; I’m interested in the bigger picture. With commercial clients, understanding the business case is key.
• I’ve done a welding course
• Whilst doing a bricklaying course, I discovered that a row of knitting (on industrial machines) is referred to in the same way as a row of bricks – a “course”.
• I’ve managed the design, prototyping and production of over 50,000 products
• I love helping people solve a problem
• I love mending and hate waste on every level
• I’m a Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen founded by William Morris and Walter Crane and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts