In our latest Member Focus we want to share a fascinating insight into UK furniture designer-maker, Charlie Caffyn. Charlie hand makes modern, elegant, solid-wood furniture with architectural influences to his own designs, standing up for the traditional craftsmanship values of handcrafted, timeless furniture that lasts generations not seasons. All the inside stories of our amazingly diverse membership all have one common theme – protecting their intellectual property to achieve growth and putting IP at the heart of their business strategy. Charlie Caffyn is no exception!
When and why did you first start creating your products/designs?
Following my Art Foundation, where I realised furniture was my true passion, I did a two-year HND in Furniture Design and making at Rycotewood College in Thame Oxfordshire. A brilliant course, with amazing students, where the emphasis was on quality and traditional hands-on craftsmanship. As part of that course, I took part in an exchange with the Swedish college, Stenebyskolan. An inspiring experience which took my perceptions of quality, detail and a love for wood to a whole new level.
Before going onto Ravensbourne College in London to do a BA in Furniture Design and Related Product Design, I did three months’ work experience in the design office of a Nursery Furniture manufacturer in East London. My years at Ravensbourne, where you studied shoulder to shoulder with Product and Interior Designers, really drove my love and appreciation of the design and the thought process involved in developing beautiful and functional furniture.
I went on to spend many years working for a company as a project manager and designer, in the UK and around Asia, and eventually, it got to the point where I needed a change. I always knew that after working for so long in mass production, I would return to making bespoke pieces of furniture from wood with a focus on design, detail and craftsmanship. I set up the business after leaving my job in Hong Kong back in 2003.
Did you have any knowledge of intellectual property when you started your business?
In my previous role as a designer and project manager for a company who produced products on a large scale and sold into large high street retailers, we did a lot of work on intellectual property and patents. The scary thing I discovered was the lengths some companies would go to get around a patent, and the cost it could involve enforcing that patent.
Now more than ever, as a small business the IP of pieces is so important to my business.
Which ACID Membership services have you used and how have you benefited from being a Member?
I have uploaded my designs to the ACID IP Databank and shortly will be having a consultation with one of your experts about further protection.
Have you brought anything new to the marketplace recently that you would like to share?
I have recently introduced my Farleigh Colour Magazine Rack, which is a plywood version of my solid wood magazine holder with coloured Formica laminates. This was demand and design lead. It meant that I could offer a bolder and more contemporary version of my most popular design, the Farleigh solid wood magazine holder, at a slightly lower cost as I am utilising a CNC machine.
It is available in Spectrum Yellow and Denim Blue, is fast becoming my bestseller and an iconic piece! As a design lover influenced by colour in graphics, especially the 1930s work of artists like Cyril E Power, it was an obvious choice to bring colour to the collection alongside my solid wood range.
What is the best aspect of ACID Membership for your business?
The feeling that, as a one-man business with new and unique designs, a large, established and respected company as ACID has my back in the world of IP.
What advice would you offer to a new designer?
Protect your designs – they are your business.
ACID values the support of its members to enable it to campaign for design law reform. Do you have any messages for Government/Policy Makers on IP issues?
IP is everything, and with our departure from the EU, we must be guaranteed protection in Europe and across the world, as businesses like mine are selling globally, representing the UK and expanding the export business. Innovation and its protection will drive growth.
Charlie Caffyn Ltd