A Chat with Hayden Maunsell - Winner Student Craft/Design Award

Author: Emma Ng, Curatorial Intern
On Friday evening we celebrated the 2013 ECC Student Craft/Design Awards winners alongside the opening of design exhibition New Olds.

The award is an opportunity for tertiary students to receive wider recognition for work they do as part of their studies. Each entry represents hours of thinking and making. So many decisions go into the design process, and the three major winners have been kind enough to share some of this with us.

In a three part series, they will be giving us a glimpse into the way they work and a closer look at the finer details of their entries. First up is Hayden Maunsell, winner of the 2013 Supreme Award winner for Table Lamp – Dark.

Give us a brief description of your entry.

My entry is a simple, hand crafted table lamp made from contrasting materials – wood and Perspex, with a focus on simplifying and refining the design while paying special attention to the details.

A few of your tutors came down to Wellington with you for the awards ceremony. Where and what are you studying? How far through your studies are you?

I am very fortunate to have had the support of three of my tutors in Wellington. I am currently in my third and final year studying towards a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design at the “Idea School” (part of Eastern Institute of Technology) in Hawkes Bay.

You mention German designer, Dieter Rams as an influence. What is it about his approach to design that you’re drawn to?

His attention to detail. Throughout his career Rams constantly designed products that carried a visual simplicity and clarity even though they were very complex. Dieter Rams managed to design products in a way that just makes sense, adding interest in the smallest of details such as a colour or texture.

One of the most mesmerising things about your lamp is the way the bulb’s filament dances as you turn the dial. What materials have you used and what qualities were you looking for in your choice of materials?

Although I tried so hard to leave no aspect of the lamp design to chance, the way the bulb interacts with the dimmer and ‘dances’ was a happy accident. The carbon filament bulb was chosen to fit with the mid-century, retro hi-fi aesthetic – as was the American Ash timber.

I wanted to add interest to an otherwise boring, functional power cord so I chose a bright red woven cloth cord, and this in turn influenced the red Perspex ring on the dimmer knob. Perspex also became an obvious material choice for the top because of its reflective properties, and for its ability to be laser-cut quickly and accurately.

The form and proportion of your design completely reconsider what a table lamp could look like, and the brief for the project asked you to design an object that tells a story. What is the story your lamp evokes?

The story I chose to tell describes the landscape of Hawkes Bay, where I’m from. The black reflective top represents the dark early morning waters of the bay, and the amber glow of the bulb is the sun rising first thing in the morning. I have chosen to make the dimmer knob large, central and slightly proud of the top surface to mimic the sun’s arc/path as it crosses the sky, while the cut off rear corner relates to the sharp, angular cliff faces in Hawkes Bay where the land meets the sea – such as Cape Kidnappers.

I have tried to bring these components of the story together with a mid-century modern aesthetic influenced heavily by German designer Dieter Rams.

What was the most challenging part of designing and making your entry?

The most challenging part of designing the entry was knowing which variation of a particular detail to settle for. I wanted to explore as many options of colour, form, texture, material, and proportion as possible, and knowing which combination to assemble together into the final piece was very difficult. A lot of time gets spent staring and visualising!

What do you hope to do when you finish studying? Have you got any future projects in mind?

I don’t quite know what I’d like to do when I finish my degree. I know it will be within the product/industrial design sector but beyond that I haven’t settled on any one particular path.

I am currently trying to piece together my final brief for the end of course exhibition at the end of the year, which will determine my next project. This is all very unclear at the moment. I think the influence of my current internship with Tim Webber Design is causing me to lean towards a piece of furniture such as a stool or chair. But this will probably change tomorrow!

The three winning entries are on display at The Dowse until the 30 August.

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