David Tragen

Following one’s passion

It’s been quite a while that I’ve been threatening to start blogging but with some very exciting changes about to happen it seemed like the perfect moment to crack on with it. I’m David Tragen, I’m a proud Mancunian and designing and making contemporary furniture has been the primary focus of my life for the last 13 years.

When I was about 17, a teacher I respected at school told me that we spend a third of our lives working, a third sleeping, and the other third entertaining ourselves. His point was that the third spent working would hopefully be doing something that we love. The conversation stayed with me and it became a goal to find something I would be passionate about.

Following my love of languages and travel, my degree in International Business took me to Italy for two years and when I graduated in 1994, I felt that teaching was a direction I wanted to head in. I moved to Siracusa in Sicily with my recently acquired diploma in TESOL and after a year there moved to vibrant Barcelona, looking for opportunities.

It was there that I stumbled into furniture making in my spare time, after picking up discarded pieces on the street and restoring them for my new unfurnished flat. At first it was the excitement of turning something broken into a usable piece. It then developed into transforming each piece by adding colour, inlay or working designs into the glass.

A restored cabinet, 1996

A restored cabinet, 1996

Within a matter of months I was inspired by the process of designing something from scratch and then turning it into a tangible object. After a period of both studying woodwork, design and art whilst at the same time making my first lamps and items of furniture, it was time to leave teaching English behind in 2000.

I spent 2 further years in Spain as a self-employed furniture designer-maker before deciding that I needed further training to really be able to make the more complex designs I had in mind. I trained at David Savage’s workshop for a year followed by another year working for Silver Lining before setting up Tragen Design in 2004. Since then I’ve been working on commissions of varying sizes from clocks to dining tables for a variety of clients primarily in the Manchester and Cheshire area but also across the UK and overseas.

So it now feels like it is all coming together and there are exciting changes happening. The first two pieces in the Strata range, Beating Wings and Sidewinder represent a clear change in design direction and I feel are my best work to date. This is the first blog, posted on my fantastic new website, (a big thank-you to Design by Day for the design work and Parham for the development), under the new company name David Tragen.

So if someone had asked me about my future, aged 17, I would never have dreamed that I would be working as a contemporary furniture designer and maker. Getting to this point has been a challenging journey at times, but now that I’m here I can say how fortunate I feel to be making my living doing something I’m passionate about.