Innovation – a short success story or 2+1

That word again… all it is really is the ability to stick to task, be persistently curious and find the answer.

cRaCkInG UP!

I started crackle glazing in 1986 but unfortunately the techs at Mylands (who sold the stuff for a mere £75.00 per 5 ltr bottle!!) misinformed me a bout the base coat.  The result resembled scrambled egg.

So I double checked and they got it right – the fall out was that I was to develop a couple of super accidental finishes out of the debacle.

But at 75 quid a shot I started to apply myself to working out what this mysterious stuff was and how it reacted to emulsion or water based acrylic.

Listening to Capital radio’s Chris Tarrant musing over a story about US postal workers suing the board for putting on excess weight had my chuckling at the traffic lights in Forest Hill one day.

Bang – it had to be!!

Apparently these workers were licking stamps and putting on kilos because of the starch based glue.

That had to be it – remoistenable glue – I whirled the car around home, grabbed yellow pages and had a local adhesive supplier bike a sample straight over.

I had it painted on a panel in minutes and dried off with a hair dryer… now to apply the acrylic emulsion … wow it cracked!!!

The link was done.

Within 2 weeks I had a product on the shelves of most Faux finish suppliers across London… Harwood’s Crackle Glaze was born!

Polished off!!

I was asked to set up a French polish production run for 5000 pieces in the CAC factory.

No one had a clue how to do this finish.

I ordered in the raw shellac flakes from India and in a few days we mixed up a big pot of the stuff with my team of 15 or so finishers looking on gleefully.  They expected me to do miracles of course!

French polish traditionally takes time and is a labour of love 6 layers bodying up the surface is not uncommon.

I had to make it happen in 1 layer.

I used a soft polishers mop brush at first but it was too slow.

We then opted for a hefty varnish brush and slapped on a heavy coat all over the stained piece.  It kicked up lots of imperfections but generally covered well.

To finish I had a tin of wax polish and a can of automobile ‘T-Cut’ at hand mixed them together and went over the piece.

The result … stunning!

2 coats – 15 minutes finishing T&M per piece.

A happy distressing tale!

So we had a massive order of country kitchen sets finished in worn white over teak natural stain.

I arrived and saw to my horror hours of dry sanding and retouching to create the distress. It was a mess and didn’t match the samples… hmm a big (but easy) design fix needed.

I pulled Bobby and the team over again…

The plan was dead simple:  create a distress process in less than 1 min T&M.

First we stained the sample chair – sprayed done 11-15 seconds.

Then I wiped the edges with a cloth made damp with oil satin varnish. Just s glean… 5-10 seconds

Top white paint applied by spray and light wave over with brush for surface hand finished warmth. 20 seconds

Here’s the magic…

400 wet dry paper with bucket of soap water –

WIPE over with 400WD and the job was done … distressed for dinner!  15 seconds

How it worked was the top white paint was acrylic water based and once dry came off ultra easy only where the oil satin varnish was wiped on – on the edges where we needed it – literally a breeze!

But after 24 hours the paint adhered like life and death… so we had the job rolling through with no dust issues easy light work and TM bliss.

Target 1 min max 1.15 seconds achieved – margin restored – deadline fulfilled.

THE Challenging Design Brief


The Challenging Design Brief
Jatex International USA
2005 - Nov 2006: Jatex International, USA Design: 
Furniture and Accessories

Appointed with the brief to bring immediate fresh 
change to unusual blend of product ranges 
which became one of my biggest career challenges. 
Jatex wanted a spicy twist of Turkish 
wovens, copper features, warm tones and Italian flair. 
This posed problems of material 
handling: I created 3 stories which were made in 
2 forms:

1. Copper: XXL Minimalist bowls and platter sets
2. Soft Furniture: Ethnic weaves and leathers dash 
Italian frames dash Chicago Lounger
My key concern was that the two partners were not in accord.
I had to work with two different world views to find
a common theme.
Additionally because copper was unpopular 
in the market place I struggled to dig out a "Look".  
Creative Challenge: I had not designed metal wares 
for 2 years and I felt a bit 'rusty' mmm sorry about that.. 
After a failed plate design while working on site in Istanbul, 
I created bolder forms, large minimalist platters and bowls 
that overcame style limitations and thankfully these came 
through sampling beautifully and were an immediate success. 
I found the threads by pure hard work, extra long hours and finally
I pulled together the edges forming a unique brand for Jatex: 
Classic Chicago lounge, minimalist and rich spicy twists.

“Jatex now have a truly popular Global theme

Chicago Style Jatex USA  
Finding the brand ID for Jatex International USA needed a sharp eye for line as the
detailing required the signature richness of copper leaf or copper inlay.
Attended Atlanta, Canton shows and comp shopped/researched 
new product skus.
 Sourced complimentary story of Zen ceramics from Foshan China and Asia.
 Designed new collection of 40 pieces in the exhibition hall, on site and 
in UK studio. Set up China sourcing agency.Furniture was another big challenge 
because the client wanted for example a very high quality chair frame sourced 
from China.  
I tasked Fanny Xiang my long time Girl Friday to source the manufacturers
and we arrive a few weeks later.
After a flood of disappointments I secured a manufacturer and stayed in 
order to secure the quality of detail and upholstery.

• Furniture Design Project: Sourced manufacturer in China for 2 
painted furniture collections comprising 4 styles. Sets included 
also, storage sideboards, low tables and consoles, all in 
rich dark patinas and aged painted finishes following Chippendale 
simple elegance lines with Oriental hints.

• 2 ranges of fusion Ebonised living room sets including 
kilim-leather mix loungers, armchairs, sideboard, storage, 
low tables, corner tables, console tables and hall stands – 
sharper lines and inlayed walnut veneer details.
Bedroom sets to match included armoires, night stands, 
headboards, mirrors, storage chests, and 
dressing tables.
Nick Garrett Desight /