Industrial designer John Ford grew up with a professional woodworker by his side starting at the age of 7. A few decades later he’s still in the shop executing exceptionally-crafted furniture and other product designs. One of those designs just got funded on Kickstarter—and you should go check it out.


John Ford on Wood and Design

“A nod to the builders, the machinists, the makers of things… from many years ago to now and then some.”

-John Ford’s Kickstarter Campaign

While browsing over John’s awesome lamp design, we had a moment to chat with him about his perspectives on his craft and the current state of wood craft in consideration to today’s fabrication techniques:

SS:How did you get started in woodworking and what other materials do you use with wood in your designs?

JF: My father convinced a professional woodworker to teach me when I was 7, and I’ve stayed with it more or less since then. I didn’t get really serious about it till after getting out of college thou. as for other materials, it’s pretty much all of the above, I have a small metal fab shop as well as the woodworking, and I do a lot with richlite, corian, polyethelene, aluminum, stainless, glass, etc…


SS: Where is the current state of woodworking using today’s fabrication technologies?

JF: It’s amazing what can be done now. in the past, a whole series of jigs, different saws, routers, custom bits, etc.. were needed to achieve certain forms, and the more radical the shape, the labor and time needed to achieve it was huge – and that was if the shape was even attainable with traditional methods. now I always tell people that I only need 2 tools – a cnc and a handplane. that’s not entirely true, but the process for making edge-pushing forms and designs has been shortened tremendously. the computers and machines do the heavy lifting now. a typical project breakdown is this : 1st – idea, 2nd – sketches, 3rd – solidworks, 4th – cnc.


SS: In terms of wood, what are some of your favorite projects to date, why?

JF: I think my most satisfying projects tend to be chairs. they are a challenge on so many different levels, and when a design comes thru nicely I find it tremendously gratifying to see someone enjoy sitting in it. it’s an object that when someone sits in it, they are really “inside” the design.


SS: In an age where new materials are coming out faster than designers can seemingly use them, where does wood fit in?

JF: Wood I think is outside of trend and fashion. of course certain woods and certain applications of it can be in fashion, but the material itself is not really available for scrutiny the way newer materials are….I think now what I am most focused on is the bridging that is happening between sub-d programs and nurbs – being able to literally sculpt forms that can then go almost directly to the machine is a major game changer.


Although the project is already funded, be sure to grab one of his lamp designs before the price skyrockets.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.