This week I interviewed another of 2017’s New Designers showcase: Kit de Heger, a graduate from Sheffield Hallam’s Product Design: Furniture Mdes course. He spoke to me about his experiences and why he chose to collaborate with two craftswomen as part of his final major project.
Kit says, “I knew that I didn’t want to just create another thing for my final project. There were a lot of questions in the air at the time of starting, the most prevalent of which, I felt, was the place of truth in our society. The Brexit vote had been made and Trump had just been elected into office.
Wherever you stand on these issues is regardless, what mattered was the rampant use of fallacy. It didn’t seem right to do an overtly political project, however, as a designer you, in many ways, tell others how to live. How can one presume to know what the correct way to live is in the post-truth world? I suppose my point was that you couldn’t; but that shouldn’t stop you from asking.
In Chinese culture there are the proverbial ‘seven necessities’ typically linked to the saying “open door, seven items”. Alluding to seven objects that always greet you at home. It’s a fun exercise to pick a series of desert island objects so to speak and so from there the seven items where born. Not wanting to bog the project down in the day-to-day mundane of actually surviving on a desert island, the objects were more related to a contemporary life –an absurd one, if anything. Each worked as intended but took a post-truth spin on the classic form. A Table, Stool, Notebook, Pencil, Flask, Bowl and Tool created the set. Most objects were doubled up to tackle another aspect of human necessity – socialising.
Seven fully realised objects are a lot to do in five months! I had always known that I wanted some form of eating implement as part of the set and had always delineated it with a double-headed spoon knife combo… Thankfully Beatrix was thinking of something along these lines at the same time and it worked perfectly for the both of us to bring the tool, as its now known, into the fold.
Beatrix’s mother, Kyra Cane, is a ceramicist and so it really was a case of the stars aligning as I then had links to make the bowls! Working with both Beatrix and Kyra was a delight and yielded truly beautiful results. I’ve learnt a great deal from the two of them. Obviously I learnt a lot working with porcelain through Kyra, but more importantly it was eye opening to work alongside someone else, to tackle a project from the viewpoint of another.
Sadly, as I was graduating our course was turning more towards the BSc route rather than the BA. It was equally getting more male dominated. I wouldn’t want to put such a trivial statement as ‘the more men the less arty’ but there was a correlation. Design hovers the line of art and engineering so it needs to be represented equally on both fronts. Trying to design something that was in essence non-functional and rather speculative in an environment dominated by power tools and consumer furnishings was quite difficult. Thankfully, working with Bea and Kyra meant I wasn’t alone. I’m worried this is the way design education is going – workshops are being shut down and students are being encouraged to think less abstractly and more commercially. This may yield wonderful employment records, but I would perhaps say a generation of weaker designers as well. As I said it isn’t as black and white as ‘men are technical and women are creative’ – but from my experience of having a strong female lead to our course when I joined; and then experiencing the same course after she left, it did feel that way. There needs to be a mix in teaching, otherwise a prevalent ‘house style’ arises and it becomes hard for students to actualize what they want or, perhaps, need to.”
All Kit’s work can be found at http://www.dehegerdesign.com
Beatrix’s at http://beatrixbray.wixsite.com/design/design
And Kyra’s at http://www.kyracane.co.uk