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Chris Raby: Design Engineer

Chris Raby is the Head of Engineering at Flexiform. He has most recently worked on the exciting new Ferro raw range of office furniture. Here is a quick interview with the man himself.

What gets on my nerves?

Inside Work:
“In the workplace it’s when people are limited by their fear of failure, this is something I always avoid – my motto is if it feels right, just do it.  What’s the worst that can happen, if it’s wrong – do it again until its right.  Never be restricted by self-doubt”.

Outside Work:
“I get really annoyed when the local pub is closed”.

What changes have you witnessed over the years?
“These days everything has moved on!  Gone are the days of scratching my ideas out on a layout pad with Magic Markers – Now, I use Autodesk Inventor – it’s really quite an amazing piece of kit.  Being able to model a full product in 3d, assembling each part on screen allows us to turn around new designs in no time at all.  Where possible we always use new technology to better our products and working practices – we have recently used 3d printing, which is again, just amazing, laser cut tubing, again gives us versatility in our manufacturing alongside our long established CNC punching.  The guys in Marketing are always looking out for new tech – we are currently working on an augmented reality 3d product viewer.  Allowing us to project our products into a virtual 3d world …. It’s all clever stuff these days”.

Recent Product Developments?
“It has to be Ferro – our new raw look organic furniture – I have really enjoyed working on this project. The brief was simple, do something that is not Flexiform, but is also, typically Flexiform!  So, back to the drawing board….. literally.  I dug out the old layout pads and sketched away!  Ferro is all about acknowledging what we are – manufacturers of really good quality office furniture out of raw materials.  So with exposed welding, clear lacquered finishes, textured worktops we achieved just that.  This really was a labour of love for the engineering department.  We actually made the product ourselves – a true back to floor experiment for us all.  To be honest we really enjoyed getting back out there; welding, folding, grinding and sawing – getting involved with the raw materials – it was great fun”.

Biggest influences?
“Back to school holidays spent on construction sites with my father (a building engineer) , appreciating the stages involved in large scale commercial buildings from architects drawings, groundworks, steelworks and onwards.  I learned to appreciate all the elements of a project must work together to make a successful project”.

 

“Good design only works with good engineering and good understanding. Every element must be considered, the smallest detail can influence how a product looks and functions and how it is made”.