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We recently caught up with Calum Bettison (calum.bettison), an independent product and furniture designer based in Glasgow, where he runs an artisanal design studio. His work is predominantly inspired by people and virtues like humility, curiosity, and conviction. 

In our chat, Calum shared his story, shedding light on his creative process and how sustainability plays a big role in his work. 

Let’s get inspired, shall we?

Profile photo of Calum Bettison

Hey Calum, tell us your story. How did you get into furniture design? 

As a little kid, really. I played with chunks of wood and clay rather than action figures or what most other kids played with. After I studied furniture and product design in Newcastle, I took a bit of a professional detour and have now come full circle to designing and making furniture. 

 What do you enjoy most about your job?  

The combination of creative problem-solving and physically making with my hands. We’re hard-wired to make things, it’s part of what makes us human. But for most of us, modern life has removed this essential part of our existence. So, I feel very fortunate. 

Calum Bettison carving wood

Where do you find inspiration for your work?  

I take inspiration from what we connect with as real people and try to apply that to my work. That could be emotional, like approachability or intrigue, or it could be physical, like how touch affects the way we feel about an object. 

 What sets your designs apart from others?  

I like to think my work has an honesty about it. It’s easy to interpret, it's not trying to be clever or showy. The beauty of it comes through in the details. Paying closer attention to balance or proportion can make a piece just feel… right.  

 You describe your designs as “bold but quiet”. Why is that?   

In my opinion, the best design doesn’t need to say much, but what it does say, it should say with conviction. I try to distil the essence of my designs, so they have a bold, clear character. This usually results in the piece having a relatively simple and - what I would call - quiet aesthetic. Bold describes the idea, quiet the result. 

A table made by Calum Bettison

How do you source materials for your designs?   

Most of my work is produced in wood, and I use a timber supplier in Dunfermline called Scottish Wood. They’re a social enterprise that invests in regenerating our native woodland. They’re great! 

How important is sustainability to you and your work?    

It just makes sense to me to work with this mindset. The vast majority of the materials I use are locally sourced and the products are designed to last a lifetime - if not more. I don't think any great job satisfaction would come from designing for a disposable world.

A desk made by Calum Bettison

What – in your opinion – is the future of furniture design?   

There are a few trends at the moment which seem really positive. One is design for disassembly. The idea is that a product made from multiple materials can be broken down into its constituent parts at the end of its usable life, to be recycled or refurbished. This is essential for products made with synthetic materials, such as upholstered sofas or lighting. Whether the mega retailers go for this or not, we’ll have to wait and see!  

If you could, what advice would you give yourself when you started out?   

Take time to look at the big picture and figure out where you want to go.  

Also, try not to get caught up in what everybody else is doing. 

Calum Bettison carving with a scalpel

And finally, what does it mean for you to #LiveNaked?  

Cut the faff, be straight up – there's already enough nonsense in the world. Live a simple life but live it wholeheartedly. Does that sound a bit cliche?!? 😅 

Cheers Calum! 

You can find out more about Calum here and don't forget to follow us on Instagram to catch our next edition of 2 Minutes With Someone Naked ✌️  

May 23, 2024