BETHAN LAURA WOOD

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It’s an understatement to say Bethan Laura Wood likes colour. Looking every inch a modern-day Frida Kahlo, the bright young British designer is wowing the global creative scene – and that’s not just down to her eye-popping clothes. Her work, from furniture and glass to ceramics, lighting, textiles and fashion, is bold, vibrant and wonderfully expressive. This week sees Wood curating Broadgate's Makers Mini Market, where East London designers will showcase cross-disciplinary wares. Expect the unexpected...

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Tell us about this week's pop-up Makers Mini Market in London.
I was invited to curate the Makers Mini Market and wanted to see how it could be interesting or different from just another type of makers market. I really liked the idea of bringing together a mix of creative people from East London whose work I follow on Instagram and that crosses over different disciplines. 

What can we expect?
There’s dyed marble from Silo Studio, Fashion East newcomer Harry Evans will be showing smaller accessories, and illustrator and sculptor Saelia Aparicio will be showcasing her pickle jars filled with balloons. There are seven designers in total, each with their own shed and creative world. One shed, devoted to workshops and talks, has my pattern all over it and I will be in and around the market.

ABOVE: Bethan Laura Wood in her studio with a bag from the forthcoming 'Toothpaste' collection for luxury Italian accessories brand Valextra. Wood designed witty handles and clasps for the SS18 range
BELOW: Two worlds collide as colourful patterned sheds nestle among the vast corporate structures of Broadgate for Makers Mini Market

ABOVE: Bethan Laura Wood (centre) with her band of East London creatives from Makers Mini Market. From left: Tino Seubert, Beth PostleAttua Aparicio Torinos of Silo Studio, Ryan Coleman Connolly, Kim Thomé, Saelia Aparicio, Harry Evans; Evans invites you in to see his take on menswear and accessories

You've designed for Nilufar Gallery, Bitossi CeramicheKvadrat, Abet Laminati and Hermès, among others. What are you most known for?
My style is very colourful with lots of layers and texture. My work often focuses on materiality and exploring that through design. I also do a lot of locality-based work and make direct references from places when I have the opportunity to travel. For example, I’ve completed a range of designs based on Mexico City: the colours, patterns and architecture there all resonate with me.

Where's next on your travel wish list?
I went to Japan a year ago and absolutely loved it, so I would really love to go back and work with artisans there. I’m also a big lover of kimonos. I would like to spend time seeing how the fabrics are woven and explore how the shapes could be taken in a furniture direction, while honouring their proportions.

BELOW: Wood's spectacular blown glass lights at Peter Pilotto's 'Townhouse Takeover' during September's London Design Festival 2017

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Your floor lamps for Peter Pilotto were a hit at September's London Design Festival and your work appeared in three of our top LDF17 FizzPicks. What was your highlight?
I love the opportunity to collaborate with others on a project like the Peter Pilotto Townhouse Takeover. Much like the Makers Mini Market, I enjoy everyone working together to create something special. 

How does working in fashion and interiors compare?
In the fashion industry, the speed is crazy fast, whereas furniture production has a much longer lead time. For me, I really enjoy the crossover. I’ve just collaborated on a line of handles and clasps for Valextra in Italy, for a limited-edition range of their bags called the 'Toothpaste' collection. It was great to have access to their production and find a way to incorporate my skills too.

ABOVE: Classics with a twist... Milan brand Valextra's 'Toothpaste' collection of iconic 'Iside' (left) and 'Passepartout' (right) handbags updates the original designs' sleek lines with Wood's cartoon-like, graphic handles and clasps. A new 'It' bag duo is born

Left to your own devices, what’s your interior style?
There’s a lot of stuff in my house! It’s not minimal. A lot of my work is inspired by colours, patterns and things that I find at flea markets, so my home is pretty much filled with stuff like that. All of these things go on to inspire a project.

Is there an era or style that you’re drawn to? 
I have a love of 60s Pop furniture and Memphis. I like the joy and excitement in all of their colours. I also live in an amazing Art Deco building in the middle of Hackney. I love it. The signature colour of the architecture is dusky blue with mint-green staircases and pastel-pink doors. I knew it was the place for me.

What qualities do you most like in a room? 
I find lots of objects comforting. A minimal, blank white space may be the dream for some but it is the opposite for me. I love to enter people’s spaces or worlds where there are so many things to look at and explore. I like things busy.

Growing up, what was the dream?
I’ve always been a collector. When I was younger, I wasn’t allowed to paint my walls. I never got my ideas for interior decor past my parents, so I’d change things up with objects instead. 

What part of the design process do you enjoy most?
I love dreaming up concepts and realising the difficult bit of turning ideas and sketches into something amazing. I like model making, so that always makes me happy when I can get off the computer and start building something in 3D. Also, when I go into a workshop and start talking, touching materials, seeing what’s working and what’s not, that's really enjoyable for me.

Who are your design heroes?
My tutors at the RCA, Jurgen Bey (above left) and Martino Gamper (left), have been really influential on my work but there are many, many, many others.

What are you most proud of?
Usually, it’s the last thing I’ve done. I like to keep challenging myself. I have a soft spot for my laminate marquetry. It’s a language and a technique that I love playing with so that’s one of my favourite pieces.

What’s your social media of choice?
I’m aware that I must take part in social media (*sighs*). I’m not really a writer, so I use Instagram the most. It’s fun to see what other people are posting and photographing. 
bethanlaurawood.com  
broadgate.co.uk/makers-mini-market-east-london-where-to-shop
#BroadgateDESIGN

Makers Mini Market, curated by Bethan Laura Wood, runs from 4 to 7 October 2017 at Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, London EC2 (11am–6pm, free admission)

RUSSELL PINCH Pinch

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

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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!).

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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? 
pinchdesign.com

The 'Nim' table by Pinch, £4,350. Limited edition of 50 numbered pieces


Photographs: James Merrell  jamesmerrell.co.uk 
Portrait: Francesco Guidicini  tumblr.com/tagged/francesco-guidicini