Q&A: Nick Lewis

Q&A: Nick Lewis

Nick Lewis is our design director here at Roger Lewis. With an artistic flair and a keen eye for detail, he has headed up our creative team since 2013.

His background is prestigious. After undertaking studies at a duo of iconic institutions, Central Saint Martins and Camberwell College of Art, Nick returned to the family business to shadow his father, Roger, and learn the furniture making trade. Roger began his own career training in upholstery and cabinetry under Terence Conran in the 1970s.

Quickly developing his own unique style, Nick’s hands-on approach – informed by his interest in fine art – involves drawing up lifestyle sketches before going straight to product prototyping. He enjoys nothing more than being on the factory floor, and gets involved in the entire furniture making process from start to finish.

Recently, we caught up with Nick to find out more about his experience, creative approach and what inspires him. Here’s what he had to say…

Q: When did you first realise you were interested in design? Can you remember a defining moment?

A: One of my earliest memories is watching my dad draw sofas at home. But, admittedly, I was probably more interested in the artistic nature at this point than the design element. Art is still something that inspires me today.

Living in a household full of design classics probably also helped in piquing my interest – from Eames to Arco, there was inspiration at every turn. Our showroom in Wiltshire now houses some of these key original pieces.

Q: How did you ‘learn the ropes’?

A: I don’t think you ever stop learning! But initially, I learnt from my dad. More recently, a lot has “rubbed off” from working with other designers in the industry, such as Richard Jones and Jim Wright who we’ve collaborated with on some of our most popular designs including the Sintra.

Q: Was there a ‘plan B’? Or was design always the path you’d take?

A: It was always the path, whether I knew it or not.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

A: I am inspired by my peers, both in terms of discovering different techniques to enhance our own craftsmanship at Roger Lewis, and exploring new materials. We’re a very agile business, and so can adapt quickly in response to industry trends. This inspires us to constantly innovate – most recently leading to us developing a customisation tool, The Customiser.

Q: In terms of iconic furniture, what is your favourite piece? And why?

A: I have a special love for the Eames Lounge Chair, it’s just sooooo comfy. And it looks great.

Q: Do you have a design trademark in terms of a certain detail you always apply to your pieces?

A: The arm of the Onyar is becoming a “trademark” as I have done it on a few designs. It’s difficult to create because the fabric wants to fold and create a pleat but, by keeping it under tension, it gives a smooth, clean finish, which makes the piece look really modern. Our developer said it should be called the “Nick arm”.

Q: Can you describe Roger Lewis’ style?

A: Mid Century-inspired yet contemporary.  

Q: What’s your creative process?

A: It depends on the complexity of the design, but I always start with a lifestyle sketch then scale dimensional drawings, before moving onto the CAD. Following this is the development of the frame, interiors and cover – always in that order.

Sometimes I miss out the CAD and go straight to making a prototype, as I like getting hands on.

Q: What is your favourite part of the process?

A: Prototyping: I love bringing, and seeing, the designs come to life.

Q: How has the furniture industry changed since you started?

A: I think customers want value for their money, but they don’t mind spending more for a special piece that they know has longevity.

They also want to know about the craft and heritage that goes into the making of a product. Great for us, as we have both in abundance.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

A: An exclusive design for a client (top secret). It will be launched at London Design Week in September, so keep your eyes peeled.

Q: And what’s next?

A: Designing our next hero product for the workplace interiors sector. I have a lot of ideas for concepts that I’m starting to put down on paper. There might be a flat pack sofa and office poufs, for example. Watch this space.