Product Designer Jui Apte grew up admiring the arts and culture, providing the onset of her journey into the creative field. She found her solace in painting as a child, and that is a piece of her childhood that remains intact till date. Her artistic endeavours helped develop her sensibility towards colours, forms, patterns, and more. Her father also worked closely with the automotive design industry, hence she was exposed to many exhibitions that showcased the numerous possibilities in this field. Finally, it was the tangible aspect of an object, as well as the sense of creation, that drew her to design.
Below, the young creative who breaks down her practice for us.
My practice lies at the intersection of design, craft and nature, which seeks to bring a meaningful change to our everyday lives. My design philosophy is based on a deep appreciation for tradition, local craft, and community. As a designer, I am conscious of my environmental responsibilities and strive to strike a balance between how we create and consume. Through my work, I am addressing the need to have a local narrative against the backdrop of globalisation and actively transitioning towards a way of making which prioritises the planet. My work spans a broad spectrum of topics, from future consumer appliances to biomaterials and craft.
The Newlyn Kettle
My initial thought for this project was to investigate the relationship between humans and nature. I began experimenting with industrial or process materials such as copper, aluminium, and clay, observing the effect of natural forces such as the sea on them. My experiments with copper produced the most amazing results. Because of the salts and the sun, the seawater developed a beautiful iridescent patina on its surface.
I'm fascinated by copper as a material and its incredible properties, so I decided to explore coppersmithing, an endangered craft practised in Newlyn since the Arts and Crafts period. I collaborated with The Copper Works Newlyn to reintroduce this craft into our everyday lives. The idea of reviving a traditional craft technique to make a contemporary everyday object like a kettle stems from the thought of minimising our reliance on mass manufactured goods which eventually end up in landfills. Products like these will give many diverse voices in craft from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds a platform, truly democratising the making process.
The Newlyn Kettle is an electric kettle handcrafted using traditional techniques of coppersmithing. I decided to design the kettle using features that reflect the style of the Newlyn Industrial Class in a more contemporary way. I began with a few rough sketches to finalise the form and detail out all of the parts. The next stage of the process was carried out in the metal workshop, where techniques such as annealing were used to make the copper malleable for hammer forming. It is critical to understand that copper hardens as it is hammered. Hence an alternating annealing and hammering process is used. I used the classic riveting technique to close the container after rolling it into the desired shape. The other parts were made in a similar manner, and I took them to the sea for the final patination with seawater. I also used some leather offcuts to hand sew the handle sleeve. The maker's mark and the map of Newlyn were later engraved on the kettle.
I’m currently working on a freelance industrial design project for a manufacturer in India. As a recent graduate of MA Material Futures, I’m in search of opportunities to work with design studios or collaborate on creative projects with designers. Simultaneously, I want to investigate the interaction of traditional craft and technology as part of my personal practice. In these modern times, there is an inherent need to embrace digital technology. My research would be useful in reimagining how we perceive craft in the modern world and how it might evolve in the future.
Words Unnati Saini