Each Friday, Furniture News puts five questions to a selected industry professional to explore their background and approach to business. Today, it's the turn of Elliot Brook, director and co-founder of British design house producing contemporary furniture and lighting, Deadgood.
How did you get into the trade?
From humble beginnings really! Deadgood was set up by my business partner Dan Ziglam and I straight out of university back in 2004. We met whilst studying furniture design together and soon realised we shared an entrepreneurial streak and a vision to create a leading British company.
Being from an art school background with no formal business training didn’t seem to limit our enthusiasm, and, armed with nothing more than a vision and our endless supply of determination, we have captured the design industry’s imagination and created one of the leading young British design brands of recent years.
What was the turning point in your career?
I never really had a burning desire to pursue a career in design – it was more that I had the motivation to set up in business, and I guess furniture design became a vehicle to allow that to happen. So, in retrospect I think that if I hadn’t applied to study on the 3D design course at Northumbria University back in 2000, then I would have never met my business partner, and wouldn’t be sharing this incredible journey today.
What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?
Our main marketing and product development focus of the last two or three years has been on launching new ranges at Clerkenwell Design Week, annually in May. In four years the event really has taken the limelight of some of the bigger and more established industry shows, and we’re so pleased to have been involved right from the start.
What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?
The challenge for us as a company stems from the fact that the industry we’re involved in is so established. On one hand you have young designers who are trying to create opportunities for self promotion, and on the other hand are the established industry players who dominate the market. Crossing the chasm in between and developing a sustainable and scalable business whilst attracting the attention of the key decision-makers is the most difficult thing to balance.
Geoffrey A Moore’s age-old theory is the best summary of this: “Pragmatists won’t buy from you until you’re established, yet you can’t get established until they buy from you.”
What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?
The beating heart of our Deadgood ethos is the word ‘collaboration’, in a creative, operational and strategic sense. Over the last few years our brand has worked in partnership with a host of exceptionally talented young designers including Lee Broom (Designer of the Year, British Design Awards, 2011), Max Lamb (Designer of the Future, Design Miami/Basel, 2009), David Irwin (Young Designer of the Year, Homes & Gardens Awards, 2013), Viable London (Best Furniture Award, Homes & Gardens Awards, 2010), Nick Rawcliffe (Young Creative Entrepreneur Finalist, British Council, 2010) and Vicki Leach (Outstanding Contribution to Deadgood Award, 2013).
We’re also privileged to be able to work alongside an incredible network of British manufacturers and craftspeople, talented photographers and forward-thinking branding agencies, and it is the relationships that we have developed with all of these partners that I find the most rewarding.
This is an extract from an article published previously in Furniture News magazine. For more stories like this, you can subscribe to receive a regular physical copy of the magazine, or to have a free digital issue delivered to your inbox each month.