Five Go Mad

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Q and A with Robert Archard

Robert Archard, UK based designer often works on projects with a social, environmental or conceptual focus. His gorgeous handmade ceramic boxes are designed in the form of Britain's most recognisable cakes and biscuits. HIs ceramic fondant fancies, Jammie Dodgers, Custard Creams and Pink wafers are the same size as the biscuits themselves and a lovely gift for anyone with a passion for unique and individual keepsakes. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm 28, I teach along side my design work. I love vintage clothes and furniture. I set up Robert Archard Projects after graduating from Kingston University in 2005  I collect records, miniature dolls house TVs, and paper clips that I find on the pavement! I'm interested in how and why people use objects. I don't see the point in blue Biro's, you can't use them on forms, registers etc, so why not just get rid of them!

Were you creative as a child?
I was but not in the conventional way of taking things apart and making things. I used to like making dens and illustrating made-up stories.

How did you start out as a product designer?
I think doing a foundation course before University opened my mind loads about what you could do and the variety of things people were making. I've never thought of myself as a conventional sort of product designer, I've always liked the work of people who worked between two disciplines, graphic designers who produce 3D work, artists who make products, I think it challenges the discipline and you get some really interesting results.

You make ceramic Biscuits and cakes? are you a sweet tooth? 
I do have a sweet tooth especially for biscuits with a cup of tea. 

Favourite biscuit/cake?
Favourite, that's hard. Different days it's different things. I really like Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pastéls de Nata). The Eccles cakes from the Brick Lane Bagel Bake are 2nd place, I think 3rd place is between New York cheesecake, Bakewell tarts and Millionaires shortbread.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a Chandelier, I am still prototyping but I am really excited about it. I've got some greetings cards I hope to have printed soon too.

Where do you get your ideas from for your products?
So many places, I try to look at things outside the design sphere, I worry that if we are all looking at the same magazines and inspirations the work begins to look a bit similar. I'm always interested in working with recycled or reused items. I think social taboos and etiquette is an area that interests and influences my work. Thinking about how people use products beyond practical implications.

Where do you make your products?
I normally make the prototypes and most of the time a batch production to see how they sell. All the products I get manufactured are made in the UK. 

Who do you make your products for, who''s your typical customer? 
All sorts of people have bought my work, no one famous yet, although I think you've got to allow people a freedom.

Which of your contemporaries do you admire?
Design wise I like Marti Guixe. He has some amazing ideas, I'd love to see more in production. Onkar Kular, I love his pantone mugs the shades of tea and coffee. I really like Stuart Haygarth's design work too and a lot of the designers who come from the RCA. Artists wise Peter Doig's paintings look amazing up close. Most people can take a good photo but Richard Billingham & Wolfgang Tillmans seem to consistently take great photos. Martin Creed & Grayson Perry I think have some really interesting views I always look forward to reading interviews with them.

Who and/or what inspires you? 
I like Traveling, Watching films and listening to music. I like Jaques Tati films. but my favorites are probably Buffalo 66, Amerie and 3 Colours Blue. Berlin and Budapest I found really inspiring and exciting cities to be in. Flea markets, jumble sales and charity shops have always been a passion. The way people repair broken things. Art or design that has social commentary always seems to get me thinking about things that might lead to an idea. Objects that exist in one country and not another interest me.

Quintessentially British, what does that conjure up?
Cream teas, Flat caps, Sausage and mash, Sherry trifle, Late trains, queuing, Earl grey tea, lock stock & snatch, fish and chips, Martin Parr, umbrellas, Mr Bean, Fried breakfast, Only talking to people at a train station when a train is delayed or the weather is bad. plastic bags, Micheal Caine and of course the Royal family, the TV and real life version. 

How did you get involved with FiveGoMad?
They emailed me to see if I wanted to get involved.  

What's next up for Robert Archard? 
A cup of tea and a piece of cake.

By Liz Appleby

Sunday 22 August 2010

Q and A with Beware the Moon

Beware the Moon are father and daughter duo Louise and John Wakefield who together design and manufacture glamorous and unique wallpaper enhanced with holograms, glitter, and colour changing iridescent inks. Playing with light and colours, and using unusual paints and materials for their wallpaper, their initial designs are visually stunning and beautifully crafted. 

How did Beware the Moon start up?   
Well my father and I crossed paths at the end of 2008, having not seen much of each other for a few years, we brainstormed and let ideas run wild, only this time over a rather achievable goal, wallpaper. We’ve both had a few less-grounded ideas in the past! We just sort of ran with it accidentally, it was all very organic and unplanned.  

I loved some of his more avant-garde designs and could see that, produced to the best quality with a focus on good business ethics, lots of other people would too. My background is photography and property renovation and he’s a fantastic artist with a long history of wallpaper design in a more commercial market. We both realised we had plenty of beguiling ideas and inspirations to make peculiar and exciting wallpaper for a very long time, so with a big dose of why not? we set up Beware the Moon early 2009.

Were there any particular challenges you faced starting up?
ooh yes. Not least reining in the many hair-brained ideas, like creating entirely flock-velvet walls, impossible by the way! Getting the glitters right is a constant challenge, no one else has gone before us in that field, screen printing glitter wallpapers. It’s very tricky stuff to work with, getting consistency and texture good and lusty, without leaving your house and decorator covered in the stuff. It took about 6 months of tweaking and um’ing and ah’ing and not giving up.  Oh and the obvious ‘big challenge’ is working with family right? we’re experts in cross-wires and misplaced communications shall we say, but we’ve got love, so it’s all good.

What are you working on at the moment?
We have 2 utterly mind-bending 3D foil wallpapers going into production right now. They are incredible the way they play with lighting and colour, and I can’t wait to photograph them later this month.  We also have about 5 other designs in the pipeline, which I can’t really talk too much about at this stage (secrets and all that), but let’s say they range from twee and angelic florals, to traditional with a psychedelic twist, lots to keep little and big minds occupied.

Who is the typical beware the moon customer?  
It’s a small international market of eccentrics really. We’ve had everything, from people in English stately homes decorating 4-poster bedrooms with naked ladies, to Ostrich feature walls in New York pied a terre’s, to clients in Peru doing their bathrooms in flock velvet skulls.  

What are your inspirations for your designs?  
Everything and anything, I love contradiction and absurdity, and my father is pioneer of all things physics and natural world, so between us we have a wide spectrum of nonsense to choose from. I love the simple life and am very at home in a field with a river and a fire, but I live mainly in London. My father lives in Cumbria, and rather loves the city. We get together as often as possible to let new ideas and experiences formulate designs.

Do you source and use materials from sustainable sources?
Yes wherever possible we use water-based inks, and all of our paper is FSC regulated, from sustainable European forests. 

What methods do you use to produce your wallpaper?
We use hand-screen-printing and traditional rollers for the flocks and holographics.

What's your favourite product in your range? 
That’s hard, depends on the project/what it’s to be used for. I can never stop loving Skulls Bronze on Oil Slick, it’s our most expensive paper, and the biggest seller, for good reason, it’s simply stunning.  I also love the Ostrich Large Pencil on Bone, I’d go for that in my loo.  Having said that, I’ve got Skulls Bronze on Bronze in my own hallway and it blows people away because it’s such a small space, but it brings so much luxury and refinement to the room, it’s so very strokeable!

Any of your British contemporaries you admire and why?
I love Timourous Beasties here in the UK, and Flavor Papers in the States rock. 

What comes to mind when considering ‘Quintessentially British’?
Ooh absolutely nothing specific, abject contradiction, eccentricity, style and defiance are indefinable..I guess if I had to conjure an image it would be of a well dressed man, with pink socks and a sun parasol, sitting in a deck chair in a drizzly field, reading The Tao of Pooh (hiding a copy of The Sun), with a large glass of Ribena (sugar free) and a busy motorway whirring in the background, oh and some Paul McKenna on the iPod.

Why did you decide to work with FiveGoMad?
I like their style, there’s a lot to be said for this ‘shop local’ vibe we’re on at present, and it’s great to know there are places people can shop for interesting wares, which are all made relatively close to home.

What's next for Beware the Moon? 
Hm, world domination via the downstairs loo? or possibly just another cup of tea.

Liz Appleby

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