Where I Work: Deadgood

Design entrepreneurs Dan Ziglam and Elliot Brook formed Deadgood in 2004. The company has studios in Newcastle and London, and produce a cutting edge collection of furniture, lighting and interior products that have what they call “an unmistakably British sense of fun and eccentricity.” This month, Where I Work gets a glimpse into both studios.

You have two studios now, right?

Yes. We run two studios — one in Newcastle and a much smaller one in London. Dan made the move to London in 2010 to set it up. We plan to move to a new studio space in London this year so we can create a showroom/studio that is accessible to our clients here. Onwards and upwards!

Newcastle studio

What goes on in each space?

In Newcastle we mainly manages the sales. The studio space also acts as a showroom, so it features a number of our items. We share it with a young British designer, David Irwin, whose broad spectrum of design work ensures that there’s a steady stream of material samples and delightfully engineered components to be mused upon.

London studio

And London?

Vicki and Dan put the London studio through its paces with a constant array of boxes and products coming in and going out the door.  It’s where the product development and production happens. There are lots of prototypes within reaching distance and inspiration stuck to the walls.

What’s your studio environment like? 

Both studios are relaxed but busy. We’re a friendly bunch!

Do you listen to music?

Yes, both studios have a constant stream of Deadgood music keeping us all lively. You can follow #DEADGOODRADIO to keep up to date with what we’re playing daily.

View from the Newcastle studio

Is either of the buildings you work in distinctive?   

The Newcastle Studio occupies the site of a former warehouse, The ‘East Indian Trading Company,’ and features exposed ironwork, an open plan working environment, and a great view of the city.

 Where did you work before you moved there? 

Deadgood began in a small spare bedroom in Elliot’s home. We went from there to a portacabin at Northumbria University, then to a cold railway arch in central Newcastle, where we ran a studio/warehouse. Last year we finally outsourced all of our warehousing, which has greatly benefited the company and freed up a lot of our time to concentrate on other things.

If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?

It would be great if we could all work in one studio together, but we do get to spend shows and exhibitions together so they’re usually fun times.

Is there an office pet? 

Floyd, Elliot’s Spaniel, keeps a watchful eye over the Newcastle studio.

How do you record ideas? 

Elliot: More often than not I use a camera/iPhone, a haphazard collection of clippings or bits and pieces of literature, and printed references which eventually make their way into an expanding collection of notebooks. I have to say it’s mainly words and imagery rather than specific product development ideas. I leave that to the design team !

Dan: I like to keep it old school with an A5 Moleskine and a 0.7mm techpoint pen.

Vicki: I enjoy using the ‘Paper’ App on the iPad to sketch out ideas. I also play around on Rhino or Solidworks to quickly generate ideas.

Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?

Our ideas wall in London acts as our inspiration and development board. There are projects past, present, and future on here, always in rotation. The one thing that stays on at all times is the RAL Chart, timeless!

Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it? 

We’re currently developing a lounge chair to add to our collection of in-house designs. The initial idea came from the idea of a ‘corner chair’ which can tessellate into patterns or groups. The final design looks nothing like the original sketch, so it’s quite interesting to see it develop from that one notion. There are some tricky technical bits which need ironing out because we’ve not seen them done before. That’s all the fun of it though! Look for it in May at Clerkenwell Design Week, London.

What’s the one tool you couldn’t do without?

The one tool we probably couldn’t do without on a daily basis is our 50p B&Q Value tape measure. Measure twice, cut once!

What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?

Dan: I really enjoy seeing an idea transform from  the sketchbook into a 3D model using our CAD tools; this is when an idea can really come to life.

Elliot: My mind and my belly. I see the development of the business as an ongoing process of design, much of which is built on instinct and gut feeling.

Vicki: History is a good tool. Remembering the past but always looking to the future.

Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell me about your tech arsenal.

We’d  love to all be working on slick Macs, but we’ve gotten this far using our Workhorses (Acer Laptops) and they’ve done the job well! OS systems don’t always support the 3D software we use.

What design software do you use, and for what? 

Adobe CS Suite, Rhino, and Solidworks are used to keep our marketing and product development afloat. There’s always something new to learn on these programs as well, so it’s a constant learning curve.

What’s on your desk right now? 

Elliot: Data — sales leads, prices and project information. Two phones, an iPad, a couple of Moleskines, and a calculator. Oh and a badge (above), which reminds me not to take life too seriously.

When did you feel like you “made it”? With what piece? At what moment/circumstances?

The ‘Love Collection’ was the second major collection we launched and like in the music industry, it  felt like we were working on that tricky  second album. Fortunately, it got a great response from the press and is still one of our top selling ranges. It felt like we were moving in the right direction. Let’s just say that we’re on the right road — this is a journey that we’re all very much enjoying.

Marni Elyse Katz is a Contributing Editor at Design Milk. She lives in Boston where she contributes regularly to local publications and writes her own interior design blog, StyleCarrot.