Hugh Leader-Williams’s Spun Furniture

New Designers has launched the careers of many designers over the past years who can trace their path back to the moment they won an award or were spotted at the show. Hugh Leader-Williams is one such designer who only graduated in 2012 but in his launch year he won three awards: the 100% Design Award, the Award and the BCFA Lugo Award.

His collection of spun furniture is made from ash with spun metal tops which connect to the wood with magnets, a very simple process to construct the flat-packed furniture. These pieces were ready for production which sees Hugh’s first products on sale through this Autumn. Priced at £179 for two stools and £259 for a dining table this is an affordable collection by a great, upcoming designer.

I spent a little time talking to Hugh recently to see how the last 18 months have been for this young designer…


Atelier Tally: Having won awards at New Designers and this year chosen for New Designers: One Year On, how has the past 18 months been for you?

Hugh Leader-Williams: The past 18 months has been a bit of a rollercoaster, from stressing about getting my project finished in time for university deadlines and worries about what I would do after graduating to having the opportunities I do now has been a lot to adjust to. It has taken me a while to get started back designing new products, but I am now in a business incubator back at my university, and I have a collection of lights that I am working to get on sale at the moment.


Atelier Tally: Your designs are very simple and reductive. What inspires this in the way you approach designing? Does this go back further than your education to your up-bringing?

Hugh Leader-Williams: I think it is partly down to how I naturally am, I have always wanted to know why things worked like they did, I have always needed a reason for why something was a certain way. I think that this has transferred over to my designs; if I can’t find a reason for something to be there then it disappears. The simplicity of my Spun range was also partly a response to the situation I was in, I didn’t want to design a product that used complicated processes that I didn’t have access to, or couldn’t afford to use.



Atelier Tally: This September sees the launch of your table collection for online manufacturer Was it important for you to work with a company that could reach a large audience and keep the price as accessible as possible?

Hugh Leader-Williams: It was certainly a big factor in my decision-making; I liked the idea that my products would be available at a price that most people could afford. The design of the collection also really lends itself to production in larger quantities. I think most designers probably want their work to be owned and enjoyed by as many people as possible, and that is something that do really well.


Atelier Tally: The press and public reception for you as a designer has been incredibly positive. Has this opened doors for you and if so, have you made calculated decisions about which to work with in order to achieve your future goals?

Hugh Leader-Williams: It has improved my profile and I think it will make it a lot easier for me to approach companies with designs, but there will still be a bit of work for me to do to convince other people to invest in my designs. I have a list of manufacturers whose style or approach really interests me that I would love to work with, but I have an open mind about any opportunity that arises.


Atelier Tally: Finally, with such a great start to your professional career, you should have no problem in continuing this journey. What is next for you? Without sounding like an interview question, where would you ideally like to be in 5 years time and how do you plan to get there?

Hugh Leader-Williams: I would like to have a successful design studio with a small team of other designers, because working on your own can be quite tough. I want to focus on furniture and lighting, mainly designing products for other companies, and concentrating on the designing, rather than handling all of the logistics of production. At some point I would also love to do a Masters, but I don’t think I am ready to go back to University so soon after graduating.



Having worked in design for the past decade, Daniel started as a discussion of timeless, modernist product design. Trained as a graphic designer, he also has an avid interest in typography. You can follow him on Twitter @ateliertally.