Goldfinger Factory is a new breed of social enterprise, situated in the underbelly of the world-famous Trellick Tower. It has been running in partnership with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for three years. This inner city design and build workshop has helped an area which is a chronic hotspot of social problems through the medium of reuse and craft. Goldfinger Factory has provided training for young community members and plans to do much more.
Two years ago, when we interviewed founder and visionary, Oliver Waddington-Ball, we compared his story to a David Walliams book – “set in a mythical tower with a big-hearted, big ideas person at its centre who makes special things happen.” We were pretty spot on then, and continue to be now. In such a short period of time, this team, who was already doing SO much back then, has come leaps and bounds. Building on our relationship with them as one of their local business sponsors, earlier this year, we had the pleasure of working with them on Shakespeare in the Squares. Through phenomenal design and craftsmanship, their skills turned our idea of a bar, into The Bar. More recently, we were thrilled to hear that they would be teaming up with local design icon, Tom Dixon OBE. No longer the charming underdogs (though still charming), Goldfinger Factory are well and truly playing with the big boys now.
As part of the London Design Festival, Goldfinger Factory announced the exclusive ‘Trellick’ product collection. The collection is designed by Tom Dixon and named after the building that Goldfinger Factory calls home. The collection sees a convergence of art, design, craft and community.
The Trellick range is designed by Tom Dixon but built by the dedicated Goldfinger Factory team of skilled craftspeople and trainees. This strictly limited collection is crafted from oak and pine, which has been charred and then stained in black to create a contemporary matte finish that shows off the beautiful wood grain. The team have used a combination of traditional skills together with cutting edge digital fabrication techniques to create a range of furniture of the very highest quality.
The collection consists of: a tray, stunning planters (one small and one large), a classic stool that doubles as a side table, a stylish bench that can also be a striking coffee table and last but not least a beautiful dining table.
We were intrigued to hear Goldfinger Factory's thoughts on their latest and greatest:
Goldfinger Factory saves old materials and objects from a lifetime of sitting uselessly in a landfill site. What is the most interesting or bizarre piece you have reclaimed, and what did it become?
We have reclaimed waste from the Science Museum, the London Marathon and we might even be upcycling bits of Tower Bridge! The best use of this has definitely been turning the otherwise unusable chip board we got from the London Marathon into a wonderful community centre near our factory.
You teach your trainees a combination of traditional AND modern fabrication techniques. Is it hard to keep the older methods alive when you have access to a lot of modern technology?
Keeping the fundamental techniques alive is an essential part of what we do because without that our trainees will never be able to fully express themselves creatively. The factory is a wonderful environment to learn in because you are surrounded by so many different craftspeople with years of experience who all have their own special ways of doing things meaning you can learn the basics well and then grow from there.
We love being part of this community, and are so excited to see two local companies collaborate. What has it been like working with Tom Dixon?
Working with Tom Dixon has been a fabulous experience - the staff there are diamond to the extent that one of them even showed up to help with the sanding of the range in preparation for the launch! Tom himself is a kind man - he really didn't have to help us - but he is also very good at his job and demands high quality from us which has really helped us grow as craftspeople. We absolutely adore the range.
A great part of your Trellick Range with Tom Dixon is that, true to form, you plan to be using the leftover material in some other way. Any idea what that might be?
We will be using them to make frames and table tops that will be 100% reclaimed - we are so excited about this because it will give our trainees a chance to get creative with wonderful materials.
As a venture that seems to have really grasped the concept, what advice would you give to other businesses in terms of successfully developing a relationship with their local communities?
The most important thing we have found is that there are lots of good and kind people out there that are willing to help if you find and listen to them. We feel our project has been codeveloped with the community here and it just wouldn't have been the same anywhere else. Because of this, we can't wait to see how Goldfinger factories develop uniquely in other communities!
All items are available to buy now and will fund two new sites and further training opportunities for young people. The full Trellick range can be found in the Goldfinger Factory showroom and Tom Dixon showroom as well as via the crowdfunderUK platform.
Goldfinger Factory; goldfingerfactory.com
Tom Dixon; tomdixon.net
Photography © Nathalie Priem