The old barn, whose big wooden gate Ted Jefferis pushes open with some effort, is located in the middle of a dense mixed forest. Next door is a lake, which belongs to this property in Bosham in southern England. Leaves color the ground in autumnal reds and yellows. Ted has a wooden board clamped under his left arm, behind his ear a pencil. “My dad was a boat builder and this was his workshop,” says the young Englishman while gently placing the board next to the saw, which has certainly seen some use. “I always liked coming here with him and I loved to work with my hands even as a boy,” says Ted as he leans on a workbench whose silver worktop is covered with wood shavings.
Ted Jefferis is a carpenter, designer and architect. Under the “TedWood” label, the young Briton has been designing, creating and making furniture since 2013 – traditionally with planers, chisels and saws, all by hand, each piece is unique. During his apprenticeship as a carpenter and his architectural studies at Oxford Brookes University, he was occupied with the idea of thinking of furniture as a kind of smaller-scale architecture. The concept hasn’t let him go until today. “We subconsciously interact with buildings, facades and rooms all the time,” he explains. “We recognize shapes and our brain reacts to them. When you approach woodworking from this angle, a pure handicraft suddenly turns into design, architecture – and art”.
When he returned to Chichester, Sussex, a small town in the south of England with a population of 26,000, the old family workshop was already empty. “I decided to breathe new life into these old rooms “, says Ted – and tells: “My great-grandfather built the workshop after the Second World War. He also built wooden boats here by hand. I come from a family of woodworkers”. Today, this workshop produces a number of award-winning unique specimens made exclusively of British hardwood. When it comes to selecting his material, Ted is selective and indeed, in a way, patriotic. “I think we have the best furniture wood in England, probably better than the tropical woods.”
Nature inspires me and wood is my favorite material. Everything I do begins with a piece of wood – and my hands.
The artist loves the solitude and silence he finds out here. He has so far resisted the turmoil and some calls from London. “I’ve always been surrounded by wood and trees,” says Ted. “I grew up in a wooden house in the middle of the woods. I need this”. Now he has to laugh. “Seriously, nature inspires me and wood is my favorite material. Everything I do begins with a piece of wood – and my hands”. Ted carefully strokes the board he has brought from the nearby warehouse. His fingers feel and his eyes scan the deciduous wood. He seems to read its pattern like letters. “The most important part is to take a good look at the wood, touch it – I mean to really study it carefully” says Ted.
“The most important thing is to really look at some pieces of wood and define what it is what you love “, says the Englishman. “That could be the grain, pattern, the shape, the color, it could be anything.” He takes a drawing from his desk, points to an almost finished table and nods. What he means: each piece of furniture is first created in spirit, then on paper and finally with his hands. Ted’s exquisite furniture has unusual shapes, it looks modern – but it still has a traditional charm. “It’s important to look at tradition and look how things have been made and not to reinvent the wheel,” says the founder of TedWood. “That’s why I use old-fashioned techniques but try to interpret them in a modern way.”
The Englishman knows that you have to make a symbiosis with the piece of wood. “You can’t do that if you use a thousand machines to make it.” Ted’s aim is to create a combination of aesthetics, functionality and sustainability with his high-quality furniture. He wants to counterbalance the erratic and sometimes degenerated throwaway culture of our society. His vision: the furniture should radiate durability. It should be beautiful, but above all useful. And it should survive generations. Just like Ted’s workshop – out there in quiet Bosham.