Laurence is one of our most exciting young discoveries in the field of furniture. He combines a worldly curiosity with Scottish roots; an interest in heritage and provenance with a contemporary playfulness; a marriage of the intellectual with the practical. He arrived at his own studio after studying product design at Duncan of Jordanstone College in Dundee, then travelling and working in Scandinavia, dabbling in graffiti and honing his woodworking skills at the Chippendale International School of Furniture in East Lothian. Today, based in Glasgow, he turns his skills to furniture design, restoration, joinery and collaboration at all scales. In addition he has designed and continues to operate a self-built sound system called Crucial Roots. A maverick maker with heart and soul.
What value does craft have in daily life?
Mass-produced goods generally tell us how to act and take away a level of our own agency. They ask us not to care and not to pay too much attention. Sometimes we want this. Ease and expediency. But sometimes we don’t. As Matthew Crawford notes “Many people are trying to recover a field of vision that is basically human in scale, and extricate themselves from dependence on the obscure forces of a global economy.”
Craft asks us to take notice. To care. To connect with the world via our objects of craft. But there’s more. Something inexplicable, like art. It is art. We express ourselves through it. And even when these objects require us to maintain them or repair them, or have a few ‘knacks’ or inconveniences to their use, we still cherish them above their mass-produced alternatives because, deep down, they add to us and allow us to be more ourselves.
What does Scottishness mean to you?
Until I was about 21 I’d never really been to The Highlands except for a few ignorant trips as a kid. After that first real trip as a young man I went back up north many times to explore new parts, even living in the heart Glencoe for the best part of 4 years. I’ve still barely scratched the surface with my exploration of Scotland, yet each time I venture to The Highlands or Islands I’m struck with a very acute and peculiar feeling. This feeling bubbles up at the sight of a still loch. Or a snow capped and shadowy crag with rushed, smoky clouds gliding past the back of it. Or a bending, wet, rollercoaster single track road interrupted intermittently with cattle grids. Or a gnarly and twisted Caledonian Pine with its dull, purple bark graduating to a hot orange flaming up to the deep green of the needles. Or from a gulp of the unmistakable intoxicating freshness of highland air.
The feeling I get is a paradox. I feel the rush of the discovery of something new while I also strongly feel the relief and familiarity of coming home. Returning home to a place I’ve never been.