The Young Designer of the Year award sponsored by KI and in association with The Furniture Makers’ Company was presented at the Mixology Awards. The awards celebrate the best of the UK corporate interior design. Andrew Hamilton, a graduate from Manchester School of Art, was voted in an online poll as the winner for his ‘Sointula range’ that consists of a chair, desk and lamp aimed at the home and commercial markets.
How are you feeling after winning the Mixology19 Young Designer of the Year Award?
I’m over the moon to have won the award and very grateful for the accolade. To be nominated along with Hollie and Leon was a real honour. The event itself was fantastic and quite surreal!
What initially inspired you to make this product?
The overall idea was to create a cohesive range that clearly depicted my aesthetic and design values. Each piece had its own unique inspiration that came from a variety of sources along the way such as exploring the meeting point of digital and craft process in the chair or the refinement and highlighting of the way the desk components are jointed.
Can you explain the concept for the design?
The concept for the range was inspired by a small Utopian-visionary community from the last century to which the range owes its name ‘Sointula range’. My imagination was captured by the recurring theme of people boldly establishing new worlds with great optimism. Similar ideals have been echoed in movements such as in the work of the Shakers and the philosophy of Modernism that continues to inspire me. This attitude seems as important now more than ever. The population of that ideal world with physical objects and architecture is an integral and symbolic part of this optimistic vision.
What materials are used in the design and why did you choose them over others?
I have a great passion for natural materials, a curiosity for how they behave and a love of being able to explore this. I have carefully selected materials considering their unique qualities and then utilised them to produce this range. In the chair, ash timber was used for its technical properties, manufacturing economy and light aesthetic warmth. Within the lamp, I chose steel rod as it is ideal for digitally driven volume production methods such as being moulded in a multi-directional manner in Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) processes. For the desk, I found that a linoleum surface provided a pleasing textural interaction for the user.
How long did the design process take?
In total, there is about three months’ worth of design work for all three of the objects in the range, but it is hard to account for the 24 hour consideration and inspiration that formed the creation of ideas while problem solving.
What modifications did you make along the way and why did you make them and how did they improve the piece?
I think the combination of my training as a cabinet maker and my experiences from Manchester School of Art, have left me with the ability to create work in a way that is comfortable with the uncertainty of an iterative and explorative creative process – this is the way I approach creating a product. A loose idea is born and then intensively explored, refined and tested and as such multiple modifications along the way form the backbone my whole design process.
What was the most challenging aspect of the design?
However, the most significant and challenging modifications were made whilst translating the chair design to the CNC router. Often, there is a temptation to solve problems by adding more to find a solution, such as a fancier joint or off the shelf mechanical fixings, but actually the vision can often be maintained by stepping back or sideways and altering or removing something. Most of the challenges came around the cutting of the joints at angles that the machine could not accommodate, however these were important to the character of the design, so working collaboratively with the CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) operator we eventually found a unique solution to the issues and in the process. The operator also discovered a new way to use his machine!