Born from a frustration of not being able to find things that they wanted for their own home, Kate Lennard & Mark Garside set up Rockman & Rockman furniture
Rockman and Rockman is a brand new British furniture company founded by Kate Lennard and Mark Garside. Their first range of tables uses cast acrylic and wood veneer, which is hand cut into stunning geometric marquetry patterns, and sits atop fine tapered legs. Reminiscent of furniture made for the Festival of Britain in 1951, and yet truly modern at the same time, every piece is handmade in the Rockman & Rockman studio in Shoreditch.
The rich heritage in furniture making in East London has been the inspiration behind the design duo’s work, and many of the suppliers that they’ve used have a direct lineage from the original craftsmen of the area. Having been based in Shoreditch for over 15 years, Kate and Mark have gradually seen the furniture trade in their part of London decline almost into non-existence, but had the foresight to amass a huge collection of old catalogues from the companies that used to thrive in the area. These publications from a bygone era contain a fascinating goldmine of design and information about the heritage of furniture manufacture in London – for instance, did you know that London was once home to the biggest furniture factory in the world? They have gradually been adding these catalogues to the Rockman & Rockman website, and they are well worth checking out.
In the meantime, we caught up with Kate to find out more about this unique new furniture range.
Tell me about why you set up Rockman & Rockman?
Born out of the frustration of having collected everything special that had ever caught our eye and not being able to find things we wanted for our home, we decided to put our heads together and create a new and exciting furniture brand.
How would you describe your furniture and what has inspired the designs?
We’d describe it as: Strong graphics, balanced symmetry, solid materials with a magical quality.
Over the years we’ve been avid collectors of 20th Century iconic furniture, product and graphic design; the common denominator being memorable logos, geometric patterns, dynamic forms and rare objects.
Why did you decide to manufacture in Britain?
We wanted to produce a very high quality product that we could make to order and have control over. Also we had to develop our own secret processes of geometric marquetry that can’t easily be copied.
Who makes your products?
We make everything ourselves in our studio in Shoreditch
Where do you source your raw materials from?
Everything is supplied by local companies some with direct lineage to the original Shoreditch furniture trade. For example Crispins that used to be on Curtain Road where we get our wood veneers.
What has been the hardest part of getting your furniture made here?
The hardest part has been inventing the process and tracking down old companies for tools, materials and advice. We became experts in what you can’t do. Finding a good wood turner also proved difficult and getting good prices for raw materials.
And what has been the best part?
Knowing that we made something British and well made that people seem to love