Material Matters features in-depth interviews with a variety of designers, makers and artists about their relationship with a particular material or technique. ... More
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Ercol chairman, Henry Tadros, on elm, beech, ash and keeping his company relevant.
Henry Tadros is chairman of one of the country’s most renowned furniture companies, Ercol. The firm was founded by Italian immigrant, Lucian Ercolani, in 1920 but it really found its feet after the Second World War with the Windsor Range – an industrial version of a traditional craft chair – that is best known for its steam bending process and using a combination of elm and beech wood. Over the years, Ercol’s furniture, with its pared back – but somehow very British –aesthetic, has found its way into millions of homes across the globe. And the company has remained firmly in family hands. Henry is the fourth generation to run Ercol, taking over from his father, Edward, last year. In this episode we talk about: the manufacturer’s history with elm and beech; Dutch Elm Disease and its effect on the brand; turning to ash instead; launching his new brand L.Ercolani; working with designers such as Matthew Hilton, Tomoko Azumi and Norm Architects; joining the family business and working his way up from the factory floor; his family’s fascinating history; the influence of the Shakers; the importance of apprenticeships for Ercol; the company’s sometimes fraught relationship with Modernism; where Henry’s brands will be in 15 years time.We are delighted that the headline sponsor for this series of the podcast – and the Material Matters fair – is the brilliant lighting specialist, Bert Frank. For more details go to: bertfrank.co.ukSupport the show
Donna Wilson on knitting, becoming a brand, and creating her extraordinary creatures.
Donna Wilson is a globally-feted designer. She initially made a name for herself in 2003 with a series of knitted toy creatures made of lambswools, which managed to be odd and endearing all at the same time. Since then, she has worked with the likes of SCP, John Lewis, V&A Dundee, as well as having a solo show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Meanwhile, her range of products has expanded, encompassing furniture and accessories, sculpture, fashion, and magazines. There’s also a book. In 2010, she was named Designer of the Year at Elle Decoration’s British Design Awards. Most recently, she has launched The Knit Shop, a micro-knit factory in Dundee. She describes the new production facility as ‘my small bit to keep the tradition of knitwear and textile production in Scotland alive, so that these precious skills are not lost forever’.In this episode, we talk about: taking control of her production and the difficulty of manufacturing in the UK; how the pandemic re-shaped her business; becoming a brand; creating her creatures; preserving her craft essence; the importance of repair; having a poem written about her (yes, really); knitting; growing up on a Scottish farm and being inspired by her grandmother; and how getting spotted by New York design retailer Murray Moss changed her career. We are delighted that the headline sponsor for this series of the podcast – and the Material Matters fair – is the brilliant lighting specialist, Bert Frank. For more details go to: bertfrank.co.ukSupport the show
Julian Stair on pots, death, and using cremated ashes in his work.
Julian Stair is one of the UK’s leading ceramic artists. He has exhibited internationally since the 1980s and made his name making beautiful, pared-back everyday forms. Julian’s work is in 30 public collections, including the British Museum and the V&A and he was awarded an OBE in 2022 In March, he launched a fascinating, and deeply moving, new exhibition at the magnificent Sainsbury Centre near Norwich, entitled Art, Death and the Afterlife. The show is his response to the pandemic and the cinerary jars and abstracted figurative forms invite visitors to meditate on the relationship between the clay vessel and the human body. To emphasise the point, in a number of the pots, the clay itself contains the cremated ashes of people donated by their loved ones. In this episode we discuss: how his new show was shaped by the pandemic; the relationship between the pot and the human body; why pots matter; using people’s ashes to create his work and reflecting their personalities in a vessel; art’s ability to cross boundaries; working against the tides of fashion; the importance of writing and history to his practice; and dealing with the death of his own son. This series of the podcast – and the Material Matters 2023 fair – is brought to you by the brilliant lighting specialist, Bert Frank. For more details go to: bertfrank.co.ukMeanwhile, this episode has been sponsored by Maak, the specialist auction house and art consultancy dedicated to contemporary ceramics and craft. To find out more go to: maaklondon.comSupport the show
Paul Cocksedge on coal, metal, light, concrete and much more besides.
Paul Cocksedge is a London-based designer who has built a reputation over the past twenty years for creating projects that push the limits of technology and materials. During that time, for example, he has melted polystyrene cups in an oven to make a lamp shade, treated steel as if it was a folded piece of paper, worked with concrete from the floor of his own studio, and fused metal under the snow. His CV contains major exhibitions at galleries such as Friedman Benda in New York and Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London, installations in Milan, public art projects such as Please Be Seated and Drop for the London Design Festival and products that range from picnic blankets inspired by the pandemic to a bluetooth device that gives old speakers a second life. His most recent exhibition, called Coalescence, which was held earlier in March at Liverpool Cathedral, investigated coal. In this episode we talk about: why he decided to work with coal; going down a mine in South Wales; emotionally ‘feeling’ his ideas; the role anger plays in his creative process; his early fascination with light; the influence on his career of Marc Benda, Ingo Maurer, Ron Arad and Joana Pinho; making a steel table ‘dance’ and turning the concrete floor of his studio into furniture; wanting to be a pilot as a child; ‘bribing’ his way into the Royal College of Art with fake fivers; bonding metal under snow; and why he doesn’t want to be an architect. Support the show
Ineke Hans on designing for the circular economy.
Ineke Hans is a world-renowned product and furniture designer. She originally studied art at Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Arnhem before switching to design. In 1993, she moved to London’s Royal College of Art and, subsequently, worked for Habitat as a furniture designer. By the end of the decade she was focusing on her own work and, since then, clients have included Ahrend, Arco, Iittala, SCP and Magis to name just a few. Currently, she spilts her time between Arnhem and Berlin, where she is professor in the product and fashion design department of UDK university in Berlin. Most recently she has created, Rex, a sustainable and recyclable chair for start-up company Circuform, which has won a slew of prizes – including product of the year at the Dutch Design Awards. As we’ll hear, the product has a bit of history and is a piece that perhaps points the way forward for the furniture industry. In this episode we about about: splitting her time between two countries; being a ‘critical’ designer; working with recycled plastic; the history of her award-winning chair Rex and how it’s breaking new ground; why her parents didn’t want her to go to art school; giving up sculpture for design; moving to London in the ’90s; not being part of Droog; and her fascination with furniture.Support the show
Material Matters features in-depth interviews with a variety of designers, makers and artists about their relationship with a particular material or technique. Hosted by writer and critic Grant Gibson. Follow Grant on Insta @material.matters_grant.gibson