Dean Edmonds is a man obsessed with tradition, preservation, utility, and, perhaps more than anything else – ritual. With his life and business partner Natsumi Sashida, whom he happily spends most of every day, Edmonds runs his eponymous furniture and product design brand, known for its idiosyncratic industrial metal work as well as more classical carpentry.
The son of a Herefordshire welder, Edmonds studied industrial design at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design at what is now the Birmingham City University, where by the third and final year, he elected to specialise in furniture design.
He moved to London a month after finishing the course and quickly picked up cash “installing stuff in shops,” before landing a job at American Apparel. First, in the stockroom at the Oxford Circus branch (“It’s kinda funny, I wasn’t cool enough,” he says) and later, as a visual merchandiser, moving between stores, mainly the ones on Curtain Road in Shoreditch and on Carnaby Street in Soho. It was there, in the early 2010s that he met Sashida, who he refers to variously as his second-opinion, organiser, accountant. “I wouldn’t be able to do it – I wouldn’t be at this point – without her. She enabled the becoming serious,” he says.
After American Apparel, and at a time when he was obsessed with heritage clothing and Americana, Edmonds would wind up as a sales assistant at the now-closed but then-extremely hip menswear store (and progenitor of London’s speciality coffee scene), Present.
Although he’d always been making things, it wasn’t until 2015 when he moved into the Hackney Road studio he still occupies in 2024 that Dean Edmonds the business really took root. He’s never looked back. Because just as with everything else in Edmonds’s life, he will fix it if and only when it is broken.
“Everything we do, including working together, we put a lot of thought into, without even thinking about it. Everything is selected, chosen, and planned,” he says. That extends to spending money, “so that we can work as much or as little as we want, and be happy, get by and do what we want.”
Edmonds preferred to meet outside of the studio and home setting; somewhere in the city that he liked to visit. He chose Chinatown in central London. Perhaps because he makes objects and is always surrounded by them, he wanted to show us the possessions he always has on his person: the things he carries, the stuff he needs, the only thing he eats during the day. Things, in some ways, which are an extension of him. Here they are, described in his own words.
Sesame ball with red bean
If I’m ever in town I have to eat a [£2] sesame ball from the [Kowloon bakery] in Chinatown. I don’t eat in the day, however this is the one rule-breaker.
I like red bean in all forms, which is in the middle of it together with glutinous rice flour. The whole thing is deep-fried with sesame seeds on the outside. I got a bit obsessed with it – the texture.
If you get it at the wrong time, it’s a bit crunchy; at other times, it’s warm and it’s great.
Ritual is a big part of it and although I always say it can vary, it is always the same. We can go there any time. I hate going to a new place and then it’s gone in two years.
Customised 1990s Cannondale bike
Everything is probably going to come back to ritual:
I live a 20-minute cycle to work, and we either cycle or walk to work. I guess it’s like a tool. It carries my stuff, it often carries Natsumi…
I actually got this bike for free when it was ‘rescued’ from my friend’s garden. The whole thing was that I wasn’t allowed – we had a sort of agreement, me and Natsumi – to spend money on it. So I tried to do as much of [the repairs and additions] myself: racks, mudguard, chain tensioner, handlebars – I welded.
It was just some fun really.
Not that deep.
I have five of them, all quite different…but I was like, ‘can I make a wallet chain, rather than buy one?’
These are nails pulled out of a pallet that I was breaking it down, which I twisted and welded back together. I’ve got others made from pennies, ring pulls (from bean cans): It’s something to do in between waiting around for people to come over!
It’s become more and more of a thing – trying to make things out of nothing, inspired by stuff like that, the ad-hocism of it, of other people too. I quite like everything to be my own, as well. Like the bike, you’re not going to see another one. It’s nice that it means something and it’s yours.
And yeah, I used some junk.
This is a pen that I bought in Tokyo, at Tokyu Hands a long time ago. I liked them.
Somehow Natsumi’s friend remembered this and bought me a box [of 10].
This one is at home and floats around on me; this one in the vest [I wear]. One in the car.
But it’s just: ‘I like this pen. I am now going to use this pen forever. It’s cheap. I know I can get them.’
I always generally have it with me. As with other things, I discovered this one I like. It’s a Cowling and Wilcox student notebook: black cover, stapled, nice weight of paper, it’s cheap. I get a wedge of eight of them.
Have them all at home, and because I’m hectic, I always forget to date them… so I can never find anything I’m looking for.
The latest and the one before always gets taken to the workshop with me. And then when I start a new one, the older one is relegated.
It will have notes, random things I think of to draw, pricing, notes from a phonecall.
Very much like the keychain. I had a bangle, an old silver … thing. I lost it one day. I got upset.
I realised that maybe it didn’t want to be my bracelet and was ready to go off and do it’s thing. So I thought, maybe I’ll make something. I thought, I can lose it all I want and I can remake it. Funny thing is, I haven’t lost any of the ones I’ve made. And I now have numerous different ones, all using scrap material or offcuts.
This is the first one I made.
It’s almost like a brain exercise… I made a lamp with a stem which is similar to that.
I feel like some people like clean spaces. I am the opposite: I need all this stuff around me all the time, or on me even, to kick-start stuff.
US Army surplus bait bag
It was my dad’s bait bag – the lunch bag which he’d take to work.
Basically I used to go everywhere with him when I was young, or I wanted to… and he was into motorbikes, and I’d ride on the back and I’d wear this bag on me. Then at some point, I convinced him to let me have it, when I was a teenager I guess. I’ve had it ever since.
It’s probably from Sheppards surplus Storesurplus in Hereford, near where I grew up.
The “TRUCKIN’ MY BLUES AWAY!” Robert Crumb patch… So, my Instagram name, “Bermuda Trips”… Natsumi and I used to have an online shop called Bermuda Trips and we sold old patches by the comic illustrator Robert Crumb patches.
Photography by Michaël Protin. This interview has been edited for clarity.