This hat was designed in collaboration with Julia Georgallis as part of my Master's degree at the Royal College of Art in London. We had found out that in the 1930s there were hundreds of hat makers in Luton—a small town north of London—, but that the hat industry had collapsed after the Second World War. Today there are only a handful of hat makers left. We contacted Walter Wright Hats, one of the remaining businesses, and found a sparring partner for our project in Philip Wright, who is the 4th generation to run the company.
What impressed us most was that making classic felt hats is a much more industrial process than making a contemporary baseball cap. A top hat consists of only a handful of parts, while a baseball cap consists of over a dozen that all have to be sewn together. So we wanted to design a contemporary hat made with the industrial processes used to make felt hats.
In the design process, numerous paper models were created to develop a good fit.
We were very fortunate to regularly discuss our progress with Sir Kenneth Grange, who was a visiting professor at the RCA at the time.
Finally, we developed several moulding tools out of wood to be able to make the first prototypes in felt. Our last mould then served the company Boon & Lane Ltd. as an original mould to produce a two-part tool made of aluminium.