Designs for Life

Tim Webber from Tim Webber Design is making a name for himself in New Zealand and overseas, with an impressive array of functional and elegant home, office and outdoor furniture.

Feb 1, 2018

A material as practical and simplistic as plywood is what got Tim Webber started on his path to creating a career from furniture design.

With his father in the plywood supply business, Tim grew up surrounded by sheets of the functional wood. And with plywood the resource most readily at hand, Tim started designing and building his own creations.  

“I think those early days definitely informed my direction to an extent,” he says. Tim went on to study a Bachelor of Design in 2006, graduating in 2009. Shortly after graduating Tim created his own working studio from which he designs and produces his range of furniture under the Tim Webber Design banner. 

Having put together his first collection of design pieces, Tim’s ‘light bulb moment’ came, he says, when a complete stranger paid for a piece. “It wasn’t until I sold one of my designs to a complete stranger – someone who wasn’t a friend or family member – that I considered, actually there could be a business here. 

That someone saw the work that had gone into an entertainment unit I designed from scratch and could appreciate the value in that; that was a pretty awesome moment to me.”  

Seven years on, Tim has seven staff and big plans to grow the brand both locally and globally. Tim Webber Design’s first stand-alone store will be opening in Grey Lynn, Auckland in April. Here, he will showcase his growing range of furniture for homes (both indoor and outdoor pieces) and commercial spaces. 

“There is still a lot of work to do here in New Zealand to get the message out,” he says.  

“The stand-alone retail space will definitely push that along. But yes, I am very keen to get our designs in front of an international audience. 

We have a presence in Australia, especially on the commercial side of things, but I am very interested in the North American market too.” 

Tim says that collaborative projects with manufacturers makes the design process stimulating, as well as more efficient. A recent example is his Otto Chair; a body moulded from cold liquid foam sprayed around a steel shell. The process is undertaken in Italy because the moulding system isn’t available in New Zealand at present.  

“When you find clever and enthusiastic collaborative partners to work with, they make the design and build process much more engaging and efficient,” Tim continues. “It’s actually a big investment on our part to do the tooling, then go through the lengthy prototyping process. 

Utilising supplier materials that are already available can either limit the design or inform it; I think we’ve had some interesting results, of which the Otto Chair is definitely a highlight.” 

Actually, there are plenty of items to highlight. Other singular designs that stand out – and have helped Tim’s reputation as a designer to take note of grow rapidly – include the Jet Chair, the Bensen seating range and his sleek Austin line of entertainment units. 

As to inspirations for his designs, Tim says it is often how materials interact that become a focus for him. “I love working with a mix of materials. I like to see how different materials interact,” he says. 

“Things like scaffolding around a building, and then the design details within the building itself are all what I suppose you would call inspirational elements. 

“I also draw a lot from the experience of visiting material manufacturers. The processes and tools used in making the materials I work with are all part of the puzzle. 

I like the tactile aspects of exploring that part of the industry. 

“The integrity of the material is just as important to me as the integrity of the completed design,” he says.