Joe & Marthe Armitage

Design and craftsmanship spans across generations in the Armitage family. Joe has a degree in Architecture from the Welsh School of Architecture, and began making furniture whilst completing his Masters. Marthe is a wallpaper designer who has been making and selling her designs for 50 years, reproducing patterns both digitally and by hand. Drawing on their unique artistic heritage, Grandson and Grandmother have collaborated to revive and adapt the Armitage Lamp, originally designed by Marthe’s late husband, Edward Armitage (Joe’s Grandfather).

Multi-Disciplinary Designer

Joe & Marthe Armitage

London

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THE PROCESS

The timber is shaped using a mixture of handcraft and digital techniques to Joe’s specifications. The shade is made on a victorian printing press by Marthe, using a hand carved linoleum print block. Each shade is laminated by hand and then fixed onto a handmade brass shade ring. The lamp is a product of cross generational collaboration, employing the modern design skills of Joe combined with Marthe’s expertise in wallpaper design and block printing.

   

Q&A

1. What motivates you to make?

Joe: The opportunity to spend time together and create something unique, which is the product of a cross generational collaboration. Working with my grandmother is as much about spending quality time together – the creative output is almost bi-product. I grew up next door to my grandmother's studio in a house with a workshop in the garden. It's a cluster of buildings that my family have lived in for four generations. Most of the family were (and still are) architects or designers – in fact, they even designed some of the houses. As a result, these homes are filled with all of the wallpaper, furniture, lamps, artwork and carvings that you can imagine builds up over 100-plus years of a creative family's existence!

2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?

Marthe: I borrow from other artists and craftsmen, and I get ideas from plants, stories in books, and just looking around. Joe: I take a lot of inspiration from nature and I like to understand materials and the physical limits of how they can be used in designs. I'm also very collaborative and I love the ideas that come from conversations between people.

3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?

Joe: I have a degree in architecture and began making furniture whilst completing my Masters. It feels very normal working in design because it's what the majority of my family do. Together we use a combination of lino cutting, printing and wood carving to produce our designs. There is a uniqueness to handcrafted objects, they are all slightly different which gives them inherent value. The original Armitage lamp was designed during Marthe’s time living in India with my grandfather, Edward. He would observe people making and selling furniture in the local bazaar and pretty soon, a whole range of personal items had been designed to furnish their home.The contemporary version of this lamp is as true to the original as possible, but it's made using modern tools in London and furnished with a unique, hand-printed lampshade, of Marthe’s design.

Marthe: Hand designs are infinitely superior to computer drawn designs because nothing comes between your eye, your hand and your pencil. If you make a mistake while drawing by hand you can rub it out, and while you are re-drawing, you get fresh ideas. It's a more organic process of design than having to use a computer. Hand-printed paper will never get the precision and exactness that a digitally-printed paper will, therefore it is much closer to reality.

4. What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?

Joe: Creating the Armitage Lamp despite a global pandemic has been quite an achievement! I have a studio in my flat in East London, the lamps are made in south London, and I go back west to work in Marthe's studio from time to time.

Marthe: It's always good to realise that you don't have to get a machine to make something and it's encouraging for people to know that they can make something themselves. When I first tried to sell my print designs 50 years ago, no one wanted handmade things and interiors shops that I tried to sell to weren't interested. With success, the hand printing became hard work, so I ended up trying to persuade people to get digitally printed paper!

5. What is your dream project?

Marthe: It’s been an enormous privilege working with Joe to reinvent the Armitage Lamp. You get inspiration all around and then when you give other people inspiration it is thrilling.

Joe: I always remember one of the members at the Art Worker's Guild (of which we are both 'Brothers') saying that it's good working with a grandparent/grandchild because it's like having a 'common adversary'. Working with my grandmother has always been encouraging.

 

ALL PRODUCTS

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3 Products found

  1. The Armitage Lamp with Fern Shade in Ink Blue
    The Armitage Lamp with Fern Shade in Ink Blue
  2. The Armitage Lamp with Fern Shade in Brick
    The Armitage Lamp with Fern Shade in Brick
    Joe & Marthe Armitage
    £2,800
  3. The Armitage Lamp with Fern Shade in Sand
    The Armitage Lamp with Fern Shade in Sand
    Joe & Marthe Armitage
    £2,800
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3 Products found