The Newlyn Kettle
Reimagining everyday objects made in harmony with nature using endangered crafts.
The need to surrender our anthropocentric behaviour has given rise to a new epoch in human history: the symbiocene (Greek sumbiosis, or companionship). Inspired by this idea of the Symbiocene, this project investigates the possibilities of human - non human collaborations which challenge our indiscriminate use of resources and open a dialogue about our collective impact on the environment at large.
The Newlyn Kettle is an ongoing exploration of our relationship with nature which is expressed through craft. Historically, the United Kingdom has a plethora of crafts that are gradually losing their significance. Based in the seaside town of Newlyn, I collaborated with The Copper Works Newlyn to reintroduce the endangered craft of coppersmithing into our everyday lives.
Building on my relationship with nature, I complimented the craft with the landscape of Newlyn. By working with the sea, I intend to acknowledge the role of nature in the making process and allow it to leave an impression on the copper. The beauty of nature lies in its unpredictability and spontaneity. The salts in the sea react with the copper to create a vibrant, iridescent patina on its surface. The environment leaves a trace on the object, evoking a sense of the place where it was made.
The Newlyn Kettle is the first artefact born through these collaborations. An archetypical, mundane object designed to be mass manufactured is now an authentic testament to the craft and nature of Newlyn. It is a conscious shift from the conventional manufacturing techniques intended to question how we value and perceive the products we use everyday.
In order to imagine a more equal, symbiotic world, it is important that we give agency to the natural forces to contribute to the making of an object. When we, as humans, stop separating ourselves from our environment, we will start having empathy towards our own ecosystem.
This project articulates our need to imagine a future where we can embrace a hyper-local mindset of making products which celebrates the traditional craft and the nature where it belongs.
Contrary to mass production, the Newlyn Kettle is made entirely by hand from a sheet of copper. I decided to design the kettle using features that reflect the style of the Newlyn Industrial Class in a more contemporary way.
We have always perceived craft as a static entity. It never interacts with technology or electrical goods, which have become the norm in today’s world. My effort with this project is to bridge the gap between traditional craft and industrial production so that we, as consumers can realise the true value of the objects we use everyday. The triangle of design, craft and nature is a dynamic one. I propose to evaluate the collaborative relationship between the three entities as a feasible method of production for the future.
In light of digital culture, my research intends to reassess the effectiveness of craft-based manufacturing for everyday use.
A New Design Framework
According to the Heritage Crafts Association, there are 132 endangered crafts in the UK due to low financial viability, decline in demand and lack of skilled craftsmen. I see this as an opportunity to reintroduce other lost forms of craft into the mainstream by implementing this collaborative framework of Design - Craft - Nature.
With this framework, I hope to replace every non-handmade product in our home with one that reflects a conscious mindset and creates an emotional bond with our environment. Craft allows us to live at a slower pace, limiting our use of resources. It ensures that our resources are not depleted by exploiting the earth for newer ones.
This project will give many diverse voices in craft from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds a platform, truly democratising the making process.