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Q+A with Chris McCourt of Isokon Plus
A little while ago we had the pleasure of interviewing Chris McCourt, the man in charge of manufacturing at iconic British brand Isokon Plus.
Since his company, Windmill Furniture, took over the manufacturing side of the business in the early 1980s, McCourt has been busy modernising and expanding this iconic brand. As well as manufacturing the company’s iconic designs to their original specifications, McCourt also constantly sources new talent to collaborate with. Their most recent collaboration comes from British duo BarberOsgerby whose solid wood collection fits seamlessly alongside the original Bauhaus designs.
All Isokon Plus furniture is manufactured at the company’s studio in Chiswick, London by a team of 15 skilled craftsmen – you can see the team at work in our exclusive images below.
We hope you enjoy the interview!
Isokon Plus have collaborated with some of the most iconic and influential designers in history from Marcel Breuer to Walter Gropius, how has this influenced the brand?
It made the brand what it is by having the leading designers of the day collaborating with a forward thinker in founder Jack Pritchard. This has given the brand a level to aim at and maintain which I believe we have done by collaborating with today’s best designers.
The Penguin Donkey, designed by Egon Riss in 1939, has now become a design classic. What, in your opinion, makes this product a ‘classic’ item?
It’s quirkiness and long-lived application, even in today's very different world, I believe have earned it a place in every home.
Most recently you have worked with BarberOsgerby – on the Loop Coffee Table, Home Dining Table and Portsmouth Bench among other designs. Can you tell us a bit more about this collaboration?
I felt that BarberOsgerby’s designs could sit happily alongside those of Breuer, without any sense of copying. Our method of working together has been very much of designer and manufacturer. My job was to take what they draw and make it possible, technically - I helped with close-up detail and practical construction suggestions. The collaboration has taught me how to see and understand design better.
British design is having a bit of a resurgence at the moment with many younger designers and brands breaking through such as Benjamin Hubert, Young and Norgate and &Then Studio, what does this mean for Isokon Plus?
Essentially, it means we need to keep a watch out in case we miss the next BarberOsgerby!
It’s great to see all Isokon Plus products are produced at your factory in Chiswick. Can you tell us a bit more about the factory and how the items are created?
All parts of the making process are, and always have been, done at our Chiswick workshop which gives us quality control and agility when it comes to trying out new products. Our facillty is large for a small firm with laminating done with both vacuum presses and two part mold presses. We have full CNC capacity also, so we try to keep up with technology. Original designer specifications are always respected but can be marginally altered with approval if not available or no longer viable.
What’s next for Isokon Plus? Are there any new designs or collaborations in the pipelines? If so, what should we look out for?
This year will see a move to our new premises in Hackney Wick in north east London. We’re also continuing to look at new designers, but there’s nothing set in stone yet – but watch this space!