At age 13, designer Diggory Rush was already well into his dad’s toolbox, making everything from musical instruments to sound systems. An award-winning designer, Diggory graduated from London Met's Furniture and Product Design BA in 2018. His restrained, fluid style is particularly inspired by contemporary Japanese design and digital craftsmanship. His work blends modern manufacturing techniques with craft methodology. He is also a passionate and published print photographer.
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I was raised in Canterbury; I grew up hating school and was often in trouble. The one thing I loved most was to design and make, and I was frustrated by the rigidity of the school system and the slow teaching pace. I got my first workshop space when I was 15 above a shop owned by a family friend, after ruining the carpet of my bedroom with epoxy resin!
Tell us a little bit about your interests and why they’re important to you...
I’m really interested in sound systems and sound-system culture. I spend a lot of time designing and building horn-loaded loudspeakers as I enjoy the design challenges it brings. Of course, a large part of the hobby is being able to play the music that I love and share it with people – it’s a very sociable hobby and I’ve met some great people through sound-system events.
What’s your biggest passion in life and where did that passion come from?
I get really bored sitting still, so my passion is challenging myself with the next big creative project!
What’s the proudest moment in your life?
I made an electric ukulele when I was 13. I took it to a local music shop and they plugged it into an amplifier to play it. A small crowd gathered of people who wanted to play/purchase it, and no-one could believe I had made it myself. It was the first time my work had any value to others.
Why did you choose to study at London Met?
I was told about the course by Helen Welch, who ran a furniture-making school I attended for a 14-week educational course.
How do you think your study at the School of Art, Architecture and Design prepared you for what you do today?
It was great to have such hands-on experience in the making process and workshops. I gained valuable insights into mass manufacturing techniques and feel comfortable in a large workshop setting.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job today?
I’ve been working on private furniture commissions since 2017 – at the moment I am currently studying for a double master's in Innovation Design Engineering with the Royal College of Art and Imperial Collage, but I still do the odd commission.
What was your favourite project or piece of equipment on the course – and why?
So, I made a bench in my second year (2017) that was displayed at the London Design Festival, some pictures of it were shared over Facebook and I got contacted by a member of the public who loved the picture. She wanted an extendable table version of the bench.
This turned out to be a real challenge but still sits in my portfolio as what I believe to be my strongest piece. I was fortunate enough to display both pieces side by side for my final show (2018).
Did you get involved in the studio culture at the School and get to meet people from other courses?
I spent a fair bit of time at the White Hart with two good friends from the course, Mike and Fraser. We used to get covered in sawdust in the workshop and have a cheeky stop-off before going home, we would talk about our projects and help each other out with ideas.
What was the best thing about studying in Aldgate/Shoreditch?
Easy, I ate street food every day, I’ve never eaten so well in my life! The market directly outside Calcutta House was just great. I became good friends with one of the stalls in particular and still have fond memories, I felt really connected to the area.
Have you stayed in touch with friends or lecturers on the course?
I’m still in contact with a few people from the course, we meet up and a have a few pints. I’m also guilty of using them for critiques on my projects, it’s always good to get a fresh pair of eyes and particularly from people you trust who won’t hold back if they think it’s rubbish!
Did anything surprise you about your course or London Met?
I didn’t come from a particularly academic background; I was really surprised about how much I enjoyed the CHS modules and my dissertation. It really influenced my current practice and I’m still in contact with some of the people I interviewed!
What’s next for your career? How do you think the University has helped you?
I’m hoping to go into design for manufacture, my practical experience with machining and craft methodology have helped shape my passion for lean manufacture and CMF (colour, materials and finish).
What does the diversity at London Met mean to you?
So, I was writing an essay on sound system culture in the library when a girl came up to me and started asking what I was writing about, turned out it was Aba Shanti-i’s neighbour. She gave me a massive insight into the reggae and dub side of sound-system culture, it was super interesting and helpful.
How has the lockdown affected you and your work?
Working with people over virtual platforms has been a slow and frustrating process, but we are getting more and more creative because of it. The time zone difference means we must be more efficient with our time and clearer. I’m also struggling to get hold of raw materials but I’m still making.
Any tips for students thinking about studying at here?
Come into projects with an open mind. I’m stubborn and passionate which was a barrier to creativity. Ultimately, the design process isn’t always linear. Everyone falls in love with their designs, but as I was once told by Assa Ashuach that "you’ve got to kill your kids sometimes".