British duo Russell and Oona Pinch of Clapham furniture makers Pinch are mostly known for their slender, light-as-air wooden pieces. At the London Design Festival 2015, their monolithic 'Nim' coffee table at Shoreditch's Rochelle School was quite the head-turner. We talk to Russell about how this radical new direction came about...
BY CLAIRE BINGHAM
What was the idea behind the 'Nim' table?
With 'Nim' we wanted to mark the milestone of 11 years in business with an exciting creative project – a gift to ourselves. Instead of a party we decided to invest in a piece we would not ordinarily do, one that required a substantial set-up and explored new materials and tone.
What was it inspired by?
Mood. That particular feeling when things are super-charged and energetic but still appear calm and collected and smooth on the outside. It’s an exploration of texture and form, referencing lava strata, stone and weather. The table captures all the movement, power, potential and beauty of the natural world expressed as a new man-made object.
ABOVE: Russell and Oona Pinch
ABOVE RIGHT AND BELOW: The fabulously tactile 'Nim' table makes a virtue of its concrete-like solidity and the contrast between its smooth polished surface and almost-singed, textured base. Airbrushed in inky hues, the table is made from hand-finished Jesmonite, a gypsum/resin composite normally used in building projects, 'floating' on a raised foot
What is your favourite thing about it?
The transformation from a rough eroded textured side, flowing into a perfectly formed and smooth recessed top.
How does it reflect your style?
It is serene but feels strong at the same time. In the majority of our work we seek to pare back and back until only the absolutely necessary remains. In this case, we wanted to celebrate and enjoy the mass of the piece, so it’s the opposite of our normal mode, but is still recognisable as our style due to its mood.
What was the reason behind the choice of material?
Our concept led us to use Jesmonite, which has excellent casting properties and can replicate very fine details. Jesmonite is also lighter than stone or concrete, and less invasive to both user and the environment.
What do you consider when working on a new design?
We often set our design briefs by thinking about what we need in our real/imaginary home, alongside how the whole range hangs together. We want it to feel inviting and elegant, but also with a creative aspect and resonance – and always offering a relationship to the materials. Just as our 'Twig' seats and 'Anders' lights brought another tone and perspective to our pieces, with the 'Nim' table we wanted to add a new dimension to our collection. The contrast in material and shape drives its personality.
ABOVE: The elegant 'Leta' chaise longue is part of Pinch's new look AW15 collection
What part of the process do you like the most?
Experimentation and model making. It’s more like a sculpture workshop at this stage of the process, where we are turning pieces, whittling objects, playing with form, materiality and colour. It’s really like playing but don’t tell anyone.
If you weren't a designer, what might you have been?
A farmer or an economist (I know, don’t ask!).
ABOVE: The bold 'Twig' bench and seating/side table cubes made from coppiced hazel have become a contemporary design classic
Who or what is exciting you in design right now?
More experimentation. We have opened the floodgates with 'Nim'. Right now, we have more ideas than time and money to bring things to life, but maybe that’s the right way round.
Your biggest must-have in a home is… A great kitchen with appliances that allow for open flame cooking and good ventilation. Cooking and eating and all they entwine is life for me. It’s the beating heart of my home.
What are you due to work on next?
Another coffee table of equal impact, a new desk and we are just talking about working with a wonderful ceramics company.
What’s your social media of choice?
Ha – topical point, nothing until very recently. I think most of my old college friends must think I’ve died as I’m not personally on Facebook, however, Pinch has just starting on Instagram. How does anyone achieve anything though if you’re doing that all day?
The 'Nim' table by Pinch, £4,350. Limited edition of 50 numbered pieces