The Bartlett School of Architecture


Felix Graf

Image: Felix Graf



Adaption of specific tree elements for furniture making: The role of embodied knowledge within the processes of design and manufacture

First and second supervisors


This research project explores how knowledge is embodied in the practice of design and manufacture of furniture made from wood, and, consequently, how an extended knowledge of designers and manufacturers can augment their working processes.

In order to understand that knowledge more deeply, the project investigates the notions of tacit knowledge, risk and uncertainty, and aims to find their links to workmanship. The project questions how insights into specific skills can be generated, and how they can be appropriated in practical experimentation.

This PhD by Design uses applied experimentation in order to find a way of designing and making furniture that learns how to tease out the potential of a particular piece of wood. Such an approach is both a methodological strategy to discover precise benefits of the designer having intimate knowledge of skills and material and an investigation into whether such a process can have ecological benefits for forestry.

Typically, designers propose projects for a generic idea of timber (dimensional lumber) and production of timber caters for such demands, leaving large volumes of waste material that does not conform to the dimensional and geometric norms. This material may not only be useful but also have a design potential beyond that offered by typical cuts of timber.


Felix Constantin Graf is an architectural, interior and furniture designer with a strong interest in joinery and carpentry. He currently pursues doctoral studies at The Bartlett School of Architecture in London, supervised by Prof. Nat Chard and Prof. Bob Sheil, on the interrelationship of design and manufacture, with focus on establishing a methodology to promote knowledge exchange.

In the past, Felix worked with Matteo Thun & Partners in Milan and Ian Chalk Architects in London. Prior to his PhD studies, Felix graduated from the Royal College of Art, London with a Master of Arts in Interior Design and was trained in Architecture at Technical University of Munich and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

Image: © Felix Graf