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We have talked for so long about globalization and how it is changing the world, but the question that has not yet been asked is: ‘Has globalization actually had an impact on all our endeavors?’ It is possible to say, ‘No, globalization has not affected all our endeavors’ and the proof is that some people still insist on being loyal to their own countries when it comes to producing manufactured products. This is true especially in European countries, assuming that this is where the best industries exist. The reason for this is that the culture of some designers has not yet expanded to realize that most of the world’s inhabitants do not live in the west but rather, there are other countries that have robust industries which can sometimes prove to be relatively cheaper than those of their European counterparts. Then what of exchanging expertise and ideas? This could be a positive point in developing and advancing the concept and notion of design.
There is someone who revisited this issue and decided to come out of his shell and embrace a world that is more creative, a world where he found new ways to implement his ideas and designs with methods, which although traditional, give a new allure to his designs. John Reeves, a British designer who designs furniture fabricated from cast aluminum in Vietnam where the metal is cast and shaped. He managed to exploit this industry well in the production of his designs, according to the criteria that he wanted to preserve.
John Reeves expressed his opinion by explaining that the decisions made by designers in the production of products affect today’s generation as well as tomorrow’s. Hence, he benefited from his practical experience with one of the design companies in England where he worked as the Design Manager and Head of Quality Control while supervising the company’s production in Vietnam. Through this experience, he got to know a new, much cheaper and more durable kind of manufacturing - sand casting recycled aluminum. He decided to use this method of fabrication to produce a new line of furniture; consequently he resigned from his position and started working as an independent.
The basic idea behind this project is to make a new craft prevail over an old one - the casting and shaping of metals versus the craft of woodwork. This is a craft that uses an old traditional method of fabrication. As for the design itself, the shape of the seat back was inspired by the shape of the human shoulder, from which point the rest of the lines were inspired. The fabrication process starts with taking a piece of wood and shaping it as desired then placing it in a mould, surrounding it with a particular type of sand, which is pressed to take on the shape of a frame to house the wooden piece. This is then removed and replaced with molten aluminum. After pouring the aluminum, it is left to harden. The process is then repeated to form the rest of the parts necessary for making the piece of furniture. Reeves has taken great care in streamlining the curves and twists. This was aided by the technique of casting which integrates the piece as one entity. The painting stage follows, where the various pieces are given a coat of zinc and verdigris, which makes it long lasting and more weatherproof. Finally, the various parts are assembled; pieces of wood are added to intermingle with the aluminum to form seats or tabletops. It is interesting to note that Reeves is careful to make the pieces appear to be one.
What is striking about this method of fabrication is that the various parts can withstand long periods of use without being subject to deterioration or breakage, which is a great advantage. Despite the light weight of the aluminum, the weight of the chair is heavy (13kg); the solid mass of the metal maintains the quality and durability of the product. John Reeves managed to overcome the confines of space and took his designs to places were there are other opportunities for his work to be executed at a lower cost without compromising the quality. The products found their way back to the UK where they have been successful and are currently in distribution through outlets in both the UK and the US.