Designing our way through lockdown

An interview with Design for Need competition winner Rebecca Maynard.

During the first lockdown, we all had to adjust to working from home and many of us were forced to be creative in transforming our spaces to make them functional, not just for work, but for homeschooling, workouts, zoom quiz after zoom quiz, and of course - to unwind. 

Here at Goldfinger, as we met our community online, we had many thought-provoking conversations about how we were all coping with this total shift in daily life. We heard your stories of whole families jostling for space at the dining table, fashioning desks from ironing boards, and using piles of books for laptop stands. An idea was born: what if we can teach our audience to design their way to sustainable, practical solutions they love?

And so we launched our first Design For Need workshop, run as part of our Soulcraft at Home course, giving learners a chance to bring their design ideas to life through design drawing and model making. 

At the end of the course, we invited the participants to enter our Design for Need competition, by submitting designs for a ​functional product,​ to ​improve working from home. We encouraged participants to consider sustainability in their designs, inviting them to use our stock of reclaimed materials that are waiting to be given a new lease of life. The prize: the winner would get their design brought to life by our expert craftspeople to take home.


(The winning entry for our Design For Need competition, Granni Side Table designed by Rebecca Maynard)

We are excited to introduce you to the winning designer, Rebecca Maynard, and her brilliant design, Granni Table. A stunning sustainable side table made from reclaimed pine, the flexible design features a clever base that can slide under your sofa, for close access without hunching. 

We caught up with Rebecca to find out about what inspired her winning design and hear about her adventures in design since finishing the course.

What was the inspiration for your winning design?

My favourite room in my flat is my living room but I spent all my time in my bedroom where my desk is. I wanted to design a piece that would allow me to work in the living room from the sofa (the lockdown dream!), but not take up a lot of space, as I had too much furniture and the room was getting a tad cluttered! 

I started researching and found that, while you could buy “sofa desks” that achieve what the Granni achieves practically, they tended to be quite boring designs and often made entirely of metal which doesn’t really suit my other pieces. I wanted to bring a simple, natural design to this handy sofa desk. 

What was the biggest challenge you faced when creating your design?

I tend to do most of my design work off the page. I’ll do some simple illustrations but it isn’t until I have a piece of wood in my hands and I can play with it, put it in the space and edit it that I really finesse the finer details. Needing to design the piece entirely on paper was a good exercise in planning, considering and most importantly measuring!

(Rebecca's design drawings for the Granni)

Are you happy with how your finished design turned out?

Really happy with it. There were some sizing issues and other design choices that I hadn’t fully considered so the input of the designers at Goldfinger was amazing.

Have you designed anything else since winning the competition?

Yes, a few things! In my bedroom, for example, I wanted to have a spot to keep beauty products and a mirror that wasn’t my office desk. But, I also thought a second table might make my room look a bit like an office space, so I designed an open shelving unit with one shelf placed at the right height to sit at.. It has space for a mirror and it’s got these gorgeous big black support brackets and I used some reclaimed oak to make industrial legs with heavy bolts. I love it! 

I’m now starting on a drinks trolley for a friend’s birthday using reclaimed materials left from my renovations, plus a pine cabinet I found in a skip.

What is the biggest transformation you have made to your space as a result of lockdown?

Two weeks into lockdown I got the keys to my new flat which required top to bottom renovation, so quite a lot! It’s been fun learning new skills and getting to play with power tools. I don’t know how I would have found the time if lockdown hadn’t happened.

What was your biggest takeaway from entering the Design for Need competition?

You can design projects even if you can’t draw. I’m a terrible drawer and always use it as an excuse to not plan my projects properly. Now I make the effort to get the rulers and erasers out and get into the flow of sitting down and taking some time to peacefully think and draw.


(The winning design was handcrafted in the Goldfinger workshop) 

Goldfinger Academy is thrilled to announce its second Design for Need course. Learn how to bring your ideas to life through design drawing and model making guided by our in-house experts Noel Fettingsmith, Goldfinger Academy Manager, and Daniele Barco, our In-House Designer and Maker.

At the end of the course, learners will be invited to join our Design For Need competition, the winner will have their design creation, handmade by our in house artisan makers from beautiful sustainable or reclaimed materials.