UK, Bursledon. John Munford started his career in 1966 trained as a furniture and interior designer. The internationally known designer entered the yacht industry after a chance meeting with John White, the then managing director of Camper & Nicholsons, inspiring a direction for life. Since establishing John Munford Design in 1979, the designer has worked on some 70 projects, of which many have been credited to him including Jessica (now Adix), J Class Endeavour, Velsheda, Aurora, Reverie and Archimedes. SYD went to visit Munford at his studio in Bursledon, on the south coast, to find out more about his approach to furniture design and his involvement with Summit.

SuperyachtDesign: When did you become interested in designing furniture?
John Munford: My entire career in yachting developed around furniture, as I studied the subject at the London College of Furniture.    
During the course I became more interested in the design of furniture and its use in an environment. In my eyes it is something that is part of the environment and the ergonomics of life. So I changed my course to relate furniture with architectural interiors and spent my internship with a London-based architect studio.

Technical drawings for the Folding Beach Club Dining Table
All images by Andrew Johansson

How did you get involved in the superyacht industry?
The yachting aspect of my career came about almost by mistake. Reason being that I used to sail dinghies as a young man and a friend asked if I could help him develop a new company supplying to, and fitting out small production yachts. So I developed a system for building internal modules for most of the fibreglass boats being built on the south coast. It was this experience that pretty much cemented my interest and involvement in yachting but my career has always related to furniture.

It takes a long time to get furniture from design through to construction—in some cases it can take as long as a yacht project!

Munford points out an idea from a project where the lights mimicked flag poles

What is the key to successful furniture design?
In the process of furniture design, you are dealing with the details of design not only in regard to the aesthetics, but also the construction. It is necessary to check it, review it and to ensure the ergonomics are right, in order to make it as simple and structurally sound as possible. It is also important to relate the style and construction of the design to the company that is going to build it. For instance, I wouldn’t give a manufacturer such as Summit the order for a fine inlaid cabinet that I designed for the Archimedes’ interior.

The Folding Director's Chair

How did you become involved with Summit?
I met Summit’s European marketing manager Simon Gatliff at the first Nice Boat Show in 1992/93 if I recall correctly. He asked me why I wasn’t buying Summit’s teak furniture for the decks of the superyachts I was involved with. My answer was that it was all too bulky for the limited deck space and the available stowage space. In the past era the only space was the boatswains locker at the back of the funnel!
“If our furniture doesn’t suit your needs perhaps you could design a range that would suit the yachting market,” Simon suggested. So challenged, I started an interesting and lasting relationship with Summit, creating pieces that became the Sundeck range.

How much time do you put into the research and design of exterior furniture?
Quite a lot to be honest, as it can become a real obsession. It takes a long time to get furniture from design through to construction—in some cases it can take as long as a yacht project! The reason being that a design can go back and forth between the designer and the manufacturer in order to further refine or modify a piece. A good example of this can be seen with my latest design for Summit: the Folding Beach Club Dining Table (SD351). Even though it is a finished product, we are developing it so that several tables can be linked together, thereby converting a single foldable table that can seat four into a table that can be as long as you like.

Read more about Munford's approach to design, Summit furniture and exterior furniture design in SuperyachtDesign, Q13. Subscribe today to get your copy!

Related Links:
John Munford Design - company profile