Q&A: Paul Kelley and BOB

Following on from Bisley’s BOB product release, Design Insider asks Paul Kelley, owner of Paul Kelley Designs, a few questions about this design.

Design Insider BOB Paul KelleyPlease could you introduce yourself?

I’m Paul Kelley, a bespoke modernist furniture maker, who over the last 15 years has gained a reputation as being one of the most progressive designers and makers in the UK. My pieces sell around the world and I have also designed one offs for companies such as Paul Smith, Fendi, BMW and Agape, won several design awards and have shown work at two Venice Biennales.

A timber only product is a new direction for Bisley, was this always a key aspect of your brief?

There was no brief. I approached Bisley with the BOB concept several years ago, however at that time, wood production was not a part of their language. Since then, they have developed that side of the business, so when we met up again it was a question of right time, right place. Bisley see a shift in the use of steel in furniture and they feel BOB is the product to not only offer their existing customers, but to forge to new contracts in new markets.

Design Insider BOB Storage

Could you tell us more about your design and development process for BOB?

The idea came from seeing a Dieter Rams exhibition back in 2010. At that point, I was making only bespoke pieces, but after seeing Ram’s work, it made me think that real art is to design something for everyone – which is exactly what he is so good at. I set about designing a system where anyone can put it together – the end user has the freedom to choose the final layout of the pieces; it can be both contract and residential, it has a timeless plywood core and because of the exterior finish being an HPL, it can be easily tailored for any market. 

What are BOB’s key design features?

BOB’s magnetic system allows the units to be connected in all directions, thus allowing endless configurations and flexibility, and yet with a simple twist, BOB can be broken down and re-configured. BOB’s timeless plywood core and the HPL finish allows hundreds and hundreds of possible finishes. 

Design Insider BOB Shelves

You previously worked with cubes as part of your Copper Cube design, why were cubes the ideal form for home workplace storage?

There are cubes and there are cubes, and with the copper versions, as well as BOB, it has to be functional, moveable and well proportioned. A perfect cube is a pleasing object to anyone’s eyes and that’s one of the reasons why the cubes are so successful.

What were your environmental considerations when designing this product?

I hand-make all my prototypes I design with material sizes in mind, so there is hardly any wastage from a sheet of ply. Plywood as well as being FSC compliant, is a strong core material to use for fixings, which means a BOB unit should last a long, long time, even when you stand and sit on him. The interior and exterior finishes are HPL, a paper based product, the laminating glues are all water based and the magnets have a life time guarantee – you can just add onto existing units, rather than replace them if you want a different colour scheme/ finish on the exterior, as the plywood edge remains the constant detail.

Design Insider BOB Unit

Contact Bisley through the BCFA Product Finder

Contact Paul Kelley