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


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