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Creating a collection for Habitat

In 2008 I was commissioned by Habitat design store to create a collection for the Autumn/Winter season and this is the story of that project - one which I really enjoyed.
The collection was entitled 'Setsquares'.

Habitat made a 'backstory' film about my work and the Setsquares collection as part of their series 'Every Product Tells a Story' . Click to watch the film

Habitat asked me to design two vases and four wall pieces to be produced in porcelain. They had seen work of mine inspired by Modernist architecture and asked me to create a collection for them in this style.

Below is the National Theatre on London's Southbank and it was this style of architecture which I had been looking at for some time and interpreting through various design products - planters, tiles and vases.
You can see the planters on my website.

I focused on the geometrical and abstract shapes - both the positive and negative spaces, squares and rectangles divided and intersected by horizontals, verticals and diagonals.

I started with rough sketches, just putting together different shapes and patterns.
The sketch below is some initial ideas for the wall tiles.

Another aspect of these Modernist buildings which interests me is the material they are built in, concrete, and the way this is very roughly cast using timber shuttering (moulds) which picks up the texture of the wood, often allowing the concrete to ooze out at the edges.
I've used this technique in making my concrete figurines in fact, borrowing an industrial language and applying it to unlikely subject matter!

Having come up with some sketches I was happy with the next stage was to experiment in three dimensions by making plaster casts. I cast from ridged silicone rubber sheeting to get the stripes.

The plastercasts never come out perfectly because the rubber ridges are very fine and plaster won't stick in them, but the purpose of the the 3D casts is to see if the placement of the shapes on each vase face works well in terms of proportion and relationship to each other. You can't judge this in a 2 dimensional drawing, and unlike some designers I never use 3D software in my design work - I prefer my objects to inhabit real space!

Habitat were happy with the designs I showed them in plaster so then went on to get them manufactured in porcelain by highly skilled ceramics factories in Spain and Portugal.
I designed the vases as tall rectangular and square shapes as these related to the buildings I was looking at in a way which cylindrical forms wouldn't have done.

I gave Habitat detailed drawings with exact specification of size, shapes, depth and width of striped relief etc etc which the factories then interpreted in porcelain. The vases and tiles were very beautifully made - and it turned out very tricky to do as the walls of the vases were so tall and thin.
I was thrilled when I saw the finished pieces and really delighted to find that my collection was for sale in every store world-wide!
I really enjoyed the project and if any manufacturers out there would like to commission me in a similar way - please feel free!!!!!!!!

And here's the link again for the Habitat film

You may also like the post 'Setsquares Revisited' showing how I created another version of the design for a wall installation

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