Dare Studio

Friday 6 July 2018

Dare Studio is an award-winning British design company based in Brighton and founded in 2009 by Sean Dare. It is a family business; Sean's sister and mother play pivotal roles in the company as does Sean's wife, Sarah, an artist who is heavily involved in colour and fabric selection and the curating of exhibitions. Dare produces contemporary furniture for bespoke commissions, for luxury interiors as well as high volume contracts for the industry. Whoever the customer, Dare Studio is synonymous with contemporary, stylish furniture made with the utmost respect for design and absolute appreciation of craftsmanship.

Winning the Design Guild Mark

Dare has just won 2012's 3023 Design Guild Mark for the 'Spline' chair. The chair, which was first launched at Clerkenwell Design Week 2012, has since been selected to furnish the Royal Obidos and the Seve Ballesteros premier golf course in Portugal.

The 'Spline' chair is made in white oak (Quercus alba) and American black walnut (Juglans nigra). Both species are favoured for many of Dare Studio's commissions for their naturally stunning characteristics and the contrast between their light and dark characteristics. Sean created the chair with function as high on his agenda as beauty; he wanted to create a piece without the expected leg in each corner, that would still be stable and comfortable. The end result was a chair with narrow back legs – ideal for restaurants and other confined spaces.

Mid-Century Modern

Dare Studio has an immediately recognisable mid-century feel to its furniture, characterised by clean, flowing lines, gentle curves, juxtaposed materials and minimal embellishment.

The Mid-Century Modern style spans the period from the mid-1930s to the 1960s and was a reaction to the increasing urbanisation and technological advancement of the 20th century. As lives became more modern, our homes and interiors needed to update themselves to match this new way of living.

The furniture of Dare Studio takes the best of Mid-Century Modernism and updates it for a new audience. The pieces are instant classics; they are timeless and, whilst they bear nuances of Charles and Ray Eames and Herman Miller, they are certainly more refined, more grown-up, than these modernist counterparts.

These mid-century principles can be seen in the dark, polished finishes of Dare Studio's 'Oskar' dining table, in the juxtaposed leather and walnut of the 'Katakana' bar stool and the curved simplicity of the 'Hardy Wingback' range. They are also evident in the 'Harbour' range Sean designed for Herman Miller – a series of modular chairs, sofas and ottomans enabling the user to style their environment to their own specifications. The seating is elegant, colourful and incredibly comfortable; a celebration of form and function in equal measure.

Sustainable ethics

Dare Studio is proud of its environmental policy. Their furniture is predominantly manufactured and assembled by hand using sustainable hardwoods. The American Hardwood Export Council is in the process of finalising its Life Cycle Analysis Study, carried out by sustainability experts, PE International. The study will result in Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for American hardwood lumber exported to Europe. Manufacturers such as Dare Studios will shortly be able to use this data to access the Life

Cycle Impact for all their products.

Dare Studio strives to keep the production of their furniture UK-based, but when large orders come in with short deadlines, the UK workshop isn't equipped, so a manufacturer in Slovenia is used, able to guarantee a quick turnaround and very high quality.

Liberty's 'National Treasures'

As well as creating furniture for high profile clientele, Dare Studio is the ideal partner for several very inspiring campaigns; the cutting-edge design and contemporary ethics of the company being perfect ingredients for high impact projects. Last year Sean was invited to collaborate on Liberty's 'National Treasures' project – a challenge set down from the British high street giant to some of Britain's most beloved icons to create their ultimate product for a unique and limited edition collection. Sean worked with journalist and Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow to create a modernist oak (Quercus robur) desk to raise money for Kids Company. Only two desks are available, priced at £2,995 each with chairs sold separately at £825 a piece.

One to watch

At this year's 100% Design event Dare Studios unveiled their 'Maya' desk – featured in F&C 197 – to the public. Designed by James Melia, the desk will be available in American black walnut (Juglans nigra) or white ash (Fraxinus americana) with an optional timber or Corian top. With slender proportions and a sculpted frame, the desk embraces utilitarian functionality with a defined contemporary aesthetic. With its central drawer unit and cable management feature for computers, the 'Maya' desk is ideal for corporate spaces and home offices alike.

Sean says of this component of the Dare catalogue: “We are incredibly excited about this new design. The desk fits into modern, vibrant contract and domestic environments perfectly. I'm looking forward to showcasing the design at this year's 100% Design.”

Dare Studio has a lot to be excited about; they were recently approached by Aston Martin to discuss a range of branded products. With more exciting collaborations on the horizon, a keen desire to attend every design event possible and a continued commitment to pushing the boundaries of functional design, there is plenty to keep everyone interested.

Makers' Maker: Sean Dare on Edwin Lock

At the tender age of 18 it became clear that I wasn't going to triumph as the next car designer for Porsche and as a result I became very realistic about my abilities and goals.

My mother has been an avid furniture collector for as long as I can remember. Although not to my personal tastes, I saw the inherent quality and elegance in the pieces she desired and saved for. These pieces still grace her home now some 30 years later, which is testament to considered, well-made furniture, something that I now try to convey in my own pieces.

It was this subliminal encouragement into the appreciation of furniture that dictated my path into furniture design.

As all makers know, without years of hands-on furniture making experience, the design element can be fundamentally flawed, that is why I rely on an elite team of makers, in particular my prototyping expert, Edwin Lock.

I stumbled across Edwin, perhaps by accident or divine intervention! I had a batch of furniture arrive from a supplier that was delivered in sub-standard quality. This may explain in part why this supplier soon went into administration! I had to find a solution and quick, as, not only did I need to fulfil existing orders, but new ones were mounting up.

As with many things in Brighton, word of mouth is king and whilst speaking to my colleagues in the trade I was pointed in Edwin's direction.

Upon meeting Edwin it became instantly clear that this man lives for making; furniture, kitchens, staircases, you name it, Edwin will have made it. His vision is unparalleled and he will never say something cannot be done without providing a solution!

He has worked with wood all of his life and spent a number of years working with G-Plan before braving it alone. With great humility Edwin doesn't need to advertise or actively hunt work, it comes to him from all over the world. Only after much prodding did he tell me that he has produced pieces for world leaders and celebrities as well as some very famous designers.

Edwin has become integral to Dare Studio and without his vision a number of our products would still only be in sketch form.