Back in the Design Studio
It’s an exciting time at Haand- for the first time in a very long time, Mark is back in design mode and working on some new things to release in the upcoming months. Chris, who may be as excited as Mark to see some new designs, had a few questions for Mark below.
When was the last time you designed something completely new that wasn't a client request?
A long time! The last time I can remember sitting down and designing without any external input was 2014/15 when I developed a family of tableware and some serving pieces to follow up the Ripple Line and fill out our portfolio for restaurant and commercial use.
What is your favorite design?
I don’t really have favorites, but the first designed object I can remember loving is a set of thick, brightly colored plastic picnic kit- plates, bowls, cups, utensils etc that all stacked together and my mother stored in the laundry room. I loved their brightness and strangeness in my hands, and we always used them when we would barbecue hamburgers or hot dogs- we didn’t need to, it was like my mother was dressing a set and these were important props for the scene. I think it was all subconscious on her part, and the picnic set is long gone, but I think that is where I learned about how important an object can be to your life.
The Hard Life by Jasper Morrison and First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone by Tony Berlant and Thomas Wynne. The Hard Life is a collection of objects from Portugal collected by the designer Jasper Morrison ( a hero) that show years of use and an intuitive design driven by the function of each piece. They are not necessarily “perfect” craft- but perfect craftsmanship is often very boring, and these pieces sing with individual spirit that is really hard to define. First Sculpture is a catalog from a museum exhibition about neolithic hand axes and tools- the dating is hard to nail down, but these are definitely some of the oldest human made things we can look at. Many do not even show signs of use, they are in the form of axes but made from rocks that include fossils or have folds and holes that look like a face. There is something profoundly inspiring thinking about the scale of humanity’s existence and how working with your hands connects us back to the spark that makes us who we are a species.
If you could do prop design for a movie adaptation of any book, what would it be and why?
I would be honored to work on the movie adaptation of Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books. It is such a fascinating world- everyone lives on islands all travel is by boats, so there would be a movable nature to furniture and storage would be so important to people who spend so much time on boats with limited space. Everything would need to be collapsible and stowed away, and a society of people who live in and around boats know that the value of good craftsmanship and design can be the difference between life and death- how would this express in a bucket? A cup? A shovel?
How does it feel returning to designing?
I’m really excited. It’s been so long since I have sat down and just made things and given myself time to respond, reflect, and restart.
How do you feel your design process is different now than in the past?
I think I have more life experience, and I have so much respect for the craftspeople at Haand who make my designs come to life. I know now better than ever how we can work together as a team to breathe life and love into the objects.
How would you describe your design process?
It is very analog and very intuitive. I start with a thought, and maybe some rough dimensions. I begin by making a block of foam or plaster and then carve that back with saws and files. When I am designing I will often dream about the shapes, and imagine them floating and rotating slowly, or sitting in a quiet sunlit house with the windows open and a breeze blowing through.
What makes your design process different from how mass produced items are made?
I really understand the making process, and can look out my office door at the production floor. I also have a deep understanding of each step of the processes we use. I am constantly picking up the models and judging how they feel in my hands. I never went to design school, my training and experience is much more in the craft world than design one, which favors more the way a final product feels and exists in a space than how it looks on a computer.
Any hints about what you are working on?
It’s still developing and a little nebulous, but I can say that we will have a new tableware line and some pieces that are moving off the table and into other rooms in the house. I am pretty sure that there will be some vases- which I am super excited about!
Why are you excited to begin exploring vases?
I love vases, and I had the chance to visit Sardinia and Rome a few years ago and spent a lot of time in museums looking at amphora and storage vessels. A museum display of vases is such an interesting, unintended art installation that I am really really excited to replicate in our showroom and in people’s homes.