Charlotte Kingsnorth is a pioneering designer who trained under Toord Boontje at the Royal College of Art in 2012, before setting up her own London-based practice. Charlotte’s work melds functionality with a personal exploration of materiality, form, and the subversive. Having first presented her work at Design Miami in 2017, The New Craftsmen recently collaborated with Charlotte during the creation of her lichen patina furniture collection to develop new applications for this unique technique. Charlotte has also created work for Bill Gates, Fendi, SHOWStudio, Christies, and the V&A.
Charlotte Kingsnorth is a pioneering designer & artist who studied the 'Design Products' course at the Royal College of Art, before setting up her own London-based practice. Charlotte’s work melds functionality with a personal exploration of materiality, form, and the subversive. Having first presented her work at Design Miami in 2017, The New Craftsmen recently collaborated with Charlotte during the creation of her lichen patina furniture collection to develop new applications for this unique technique. Charlotte has also created work for Bill Gates, Fendi, SHOWStudio, Christies, and the V&A.
Charlotte cuts through traditional craft techniques and hacks into industrial processes as a type of art form. She likes to discover new processes and types of manufacture, either by visiting factories and workshops or through deep searches on youtube. Working closely with a patina specialist for example, Charlotte used lichen samples to inform her process, building layers of chemical compounds mixed with heat to tarnish the bronze and create depth on the surface of the metal. Whether exploring upholstery, scorching wood or patinating metal, her work becomes a cross-pollination of making methods, mixing handcrafted and industrial processes and exploring the interplay between functionality and aesthetics.
1. What motivates you to make?
I think it is really part of who I am and the creative process helps me make sense of the world. I have an inquisitive nature and always want to learn new things. As a multi-disciplinary designer, I constantly seek to learn new processes and play with materials I have not yet worked with.
2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?
My intuition plays heavily in the making process, what feels right or wrong, the sense of space around it. I like to discover new processes and types of manufacture, either by visiting factories and workshops or through deep searches on youtube. With my lichen patina bronze pieces, I worked closely with a patina specialist to push the process in a new direction. I like playing with juxtapositions, such as mixing the bronze plate – which is warm in colour but cold to touch – and experimenting with industrial, yet luxurious, metal. There is a level of indeterminacy with my work and it’s uninteresting for me to know the exact outcome before I get there, I like there to be space for discoveries. I am interested in peoples' connection to objects, both psychologically and physically, and this feeds back into the work I produce. The tactile nature of different materials draws me in and brings a human element to things, a feeling of wanting to be touched and loved and a sense of comfort. I like seeing people interact with the objects I make.
3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?
I like to cut through traditional craft techniques and hack into industrial processes as a type of art form. I am interested in the deconstruction of archetypes, dismantling the identity of an object and cross-pollinating typologies and methods of making.
I like to carve a character from the materials I work with and ingrain a sense of permanency to help form a relationship between the object and the owner. That conflict in design between functionality and aesthetics is exciting and I love the play between handcrafted and industrial processes and materials. Soft malleable materials represent something human to me, and I like mixing these with something more rigid, to explore that relationship between subject and object.
4. What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?
Probably my first solo show with The New Craftsmen, Processing Lichen & Other Matter. I was commissioned to create a lichen patina collection for London Craft Week in 2019, and worked on a new style of applying and layering patina to bronze plate, which I had rolled and brazed into furniture, using lichen samples to inform the mark making, textures and colours. From two large sheets of bronze I made a console table, a coffee table, two polished bronze mirrors, two pendant lights, three sconces and three candlestick holders. Even the fixtures were made from hand crafted and brazed bronze – every last scrap was used! Alongside this we invited a selection of artists, designers and craftspeople to make work within this idea of industrialising natural content.
5. What is your dream project?
I would love to design a whole space and the objects that sit within it, like a very bespoke and characterful mini world. I would really push my knowledge of materiality and stretch out, and roll around, in exploration.
To find out more about commissioning Charlotte Kingsnorth for a bespoke piece or to be kept informed about new collections from this particular maker, please email [email protected]
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