Nestled in the heart of Belgravia lies the interiors and furniture haven that is PINCH Design. Launched by duo Oona Bannon and Russell Pinch in 2004, the brand quickly grew to stand out for its quiet and elegant aesthetic that evokes a timeless sense of design and detail in each piece. Stressing the importance of ‘beauty found in simplicity and the indulgence of well-crafted detail,’ we took the chance to sit down with Oona, who elaborated on the story behind PINCH, what makes the furniture pieces so unique and what’s in store for the brand.
How was PINCH Design born?
Russell and I first met at a creative agency that Russell had started a few years previously. We delivered marketing and creative across a broad spectrum, with clients who rarely owned their own businesses, and were mostly motivated by making profit with less interest in the product or service they offered. It wasn’t a world either of us suited much, so it didn’t take long for Russell to decide to return to his true love of designing furniture. We started PINCH in 2004 around our kitchen table, and built our business with an ambition to create beautiful furniture that would stand the test of time both stylistically and in terms of its making. We wanted to create our own studio, where people that enjoyed the furniture and people who made the furniture were equally respected.
What was your main aim when establishing the brand?
It was very simple really. It was about designing furniture well, that would be made well and that would stand the test of time. This is now much more critical all over the world, but back in 2004 it wasn’t so political. We wanted our furniture to contribute to personal spaces in a positive way. It has always been important to us that people feel the furniture, the details, the materials, the investment and the human hand made in designing the product. Understanding what makes a sofa insanely comfortable or a storage unit work for modern day life requires observation and experience, and this part of the design process is the most important. Especially when we first started the business, we would commission an item and live with it until someone came to our house (the first unofficial Pinch showroom) and bought it from under our feet.
How would you characterise your pieces?
The three things that we expect of our products are strong shape and proportion, beautiful materiality and expert making. I think many of our shapes are essentially quite simple, but achieving simplicity whilst delivering dimensionality is actually a huge challenge. A certain element of poise and elegance is also really important to us. When we review our prototypes we talk about them as humans: ‘she needs to draw her waist in’, ‘those feet are too pigeon toed’. We seek to design with a lightness of touch, rather than an egotistical weight and we hope that makes for pieces that feel effortlessly poised but also instinctive.
You mentioned that you believe in poetic design, can you elaborate on what that means for PINCH?
We design for how we want to live and that is to create spaces with depth where some pieces can shine and sing and innovate, whilst a chorus of really well considered and beautifully quiet pieces sit in the background to set the tone. Beauty is poetic in nature, in humans and in furniture.
Can you explain what the design process at PINCH looks like?
We start with a lot of discussion, often imagining really beautiful, inspiring buildings and considering what furniture would serve to bring these spaces to life and what would augment the space rather than simply fill it. Our verbal brief will include a lot of emotions and some visual detail references that might derive from nature, fashion, art or antiquity. Then, Russell starts model making, usually at 1:5 in balsa wood, and so begins a process of continual refinement. Once the design has been developed to a point we are happy with, we progress to a full size studio prototype and then move to sampling in the workshop to nail how the piece will really deliver in the final materials. Russell’s favourite part of the process is the model making, that is, where he sculpts the magic that gives our work such simple elegance.
In three words, how would you describe PINCH?
Elegant, considered furniture.
How do your designs allow clients to individually engage with each piece of furniture and lighting?
Being able to ‘read’ the maker’s and designer’s hand in our collection is really important, and I think that translates beyond the more artistic pieces in our collection too. Russell sculpts all his concepts in balsa wood before any drawings are generated, and in that process he defines the touchstones of a design: the aspects of the furniture that he wants to protect in production, the particular feel of a table’s underside, the shadow and so on. We hope our clients can sense the people behind the making in our work and the fact that it’s the detail not the ‘product’ that is important to us. Sometimes not making the best commercial decision on a piece is the best commercial decision because we stand by our beliefs and create a better, more artistic product in the end.
If you had to choose a favourite piece, which would that be?
Nim because it’s disruptive and marked an important celebration for us.
Emil because it so perfectly represents our simplicity but distinct language.
Clyde because it is a perfect example of how we strive for poise in our pieces.
Anders because it omits a beautiful quality of light.
How did it feel to win the Best Bedroom Collection at the Elle Decoration British Design Awards?
Working as a couple with a small team, we could easily find ourselves going down a rabbit hole designing furniture that doesn’t have any resonance, so it’s heartening to know that what we are doing is appealing to people. We feel supported in putting creativity first and bringing things to the market that come from the heart.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects for PINCH?
We are extending our lighting range to include wall sconces and standard lamps, as well as launching a range of rugs. We will continue to find ways of making our range available overseas. However, we won’t do that to be a brand available everywhere as that would challenge our standards of making, but we know that there are still a lot of people who don’t know about us yet, and will hopefully be delighted to find a studio with a signature language that cares so much for creativity and quality.
Image Credits PINCH Design