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Sleeping (Less) Rough

May 22 2009
Goodfellow: Goodfellow:
With a surname like Goodfellow is it any wonder that this nice chap started his design career with a foldaway bed aimed at rough sleepers? Some say Tom Goodfellow scored an own goal in design terms, but with a surname like Goodfellow is it any wonder that this nice chap sought more than a design career monopolised by household garnish? Rather than tend towards superfluous bric-a-brac at obscene prices, like the majority of his contemporaries, Goodfellow opted for a more socially-aware and, dare I say it, potentially practical product. He graduated with a degree in Product Design from Sheffield Hallam University in the summer and since then has spent his time chipping away behind his studio doors at ideas that, if realised, would be turned over to support charity. His latest project, Sleeping (Less) Rough, is a foldaway bed aimed at rough sleepers. It's a portable, fold-up bed made of corriboard (think For Sale signs) held together with a network of straps and string. The bed's design provides an insulating barrier from the cold as well as a comfortable sleeping surface. The 23-year-old started off the project by going down the predictable route of looking at indoor storage solutions which eventually morphed into a brief that considered outside space. The fact somebody was yet to design anything for the homeless inspired him. "I get a real buzz from creating stuff that stimulates thought and attempts to resolve important social issues," says Goodfellow. With a plan firmly in his mind Tom began by chatting to the homeless of Sheffield, and within a week he had his first prototype ready for testing. One cold night February 2005, Goodfellow carried the cumbersome archetype to an alleyway near his home. "I woke up with the worst backache ever." But he investigated the source of the discomfort, finding, "that the coldness of the floor is also a major factor - it affects body temperature and comfort. Sleeping (Less) Rough's main objective was to provide a thermal barrier from the stone-cold floor." One year on, five prototypes and a few sleepless nights later, the bed is a vast improvement of its former self. Sleeping (Less) Rough weighs in at a mere 1kg at an estimated cost of £5.50 per unit. He hopes the lightweight bed will help those readers who sleep outside in UK streets, alleyways or subways each night. The question Goodfellow asked himself at the start of the project was, do the rich need more phallic-shaped ashtrays or another multifaceted perspex candelabra? If the masses encircling this season's domestic must-haves at the world's biggest design show, 100% Design, are anything to go by, then yes. This "uber trendy" crowd, collectively with enough money in their back pocket to alleviate world debt, are poised to flash their gold teeth and maxed-out credit cards at anything that looks remotely Habitat-esque. So the second question promptly presented itself: Had Goodfellow made too dangerous a decision by endeavouring to look beyond the Rennie Mackintosh style toastie makers and pimple zappers for the affluent adolescent? Is this egalitarian postgrad barking up a careerless tree? Apparently not, by bucking the trend Goodfellow has earned recognition as one of the country's rising design stars and the £3,000 NESTA,'Now That's What I Call Design Vol.3,' award for the bed. He plans to use the cash to develop the bed further in hope of getting it onto a production line. However, even if a much needed manufacturer does snap up the idea and start churning out beds at the rate of knots, Goodfellow still won't be laughing all the way to the bank. Purchase Sleeping (Less) Rough and you'll still get change from a tenner. It appears that Goodfellow was disparate not only in design but in the financial outcome too. "The project isn't out to make money at all. I believe the bed should be sold on to the homeless without profit margins even coming into it. It has been designed to be folded up and portable for a person's nomadic lifestyle and that's all." For something that could so easily have been the most offensive thing in the design world since the Millennium Dome, Goodfellow sleeps soundly at night. He dreams of much needed solutions that shave the designer stubble off the face of frivolity - perhaps without realising it he is simultaneously paving the way for a new generation of designs with a social conscience. By the end of the project, Tom Goodfellow's parents were both impressed and proud of their son's innovation. "I think they were just relieved" says Goodfellow, "they thought I would be finishing my course by designing a 'nice chair'". * Now it's your chance to have your say about Tom Goodfellow's design. He would like to offer one Pavement reader the opportunity to try out the Sleep (Less) Rough bed. This is an exclusive 'test drive' of the bed for several weeks, so that you can give us your verdict. So if you're sleeping rough and would be interested in trying out this new design, contact us at: Sleep (Less) Rough The Pavement PO Box 43675 SE22 8YL Testbed@thepavement.org.uk
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