A Series of Interventions by Rich Pearson

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A selection of Rich Pearson's work at New Designers 2010
New Designers, the UK graduate showcase held annually in London, is one of the most reliable places to go to find new British design talent. At this year’s show, held last week, designer Rich Pearsons’ intelligent take on reusing materials was one of the highlights.

Bicycle component turned coat hook from A Series of Interventions by Rich Pearson

We asked the former Sheffield Hallam University student (and winner of ND’s Virgin Atlantic Airways Award) a few questions.

What is your design philosophy?

My philosophy is based around challenging the cycle of consumption that many societies have settled into. Rather than thinking that melting down or physically re-processing is the only way to re-use materials I have chosen to 'intervene' in the consumption process and re-appropriate items which otherwise would be scrapped. By corrupting the original function of an object or material it is possible to extend their life by making them desirable again.

Material experiment from A Series of Interventions by Rich Pearson

How do you source materials and decide which ones will be useful for reuse?

 I have tried to constantly search for new materials and objects which intrigue me and that I thought might be worthy for inclusion. What has become apparent is that in many ways it is more difficult than starting from scratch because a lot of design decisions are compromises to suit the current form of the object.

Milk bottle top turned clock from A Series of Interventions by Rich Pearson

Some of the materials that I discover are taken from scrapstores (organisations which make available safe commercial waste for creative re-use), others are items that I have been disposing of for years (for example, milk bottle tops). I have also visited a lot of commercial manufacturers and metal scrapyards and waste processing sites, even though it is such a hit and miss method.

Scrap material shoe from A Series of Interventions by Rich Pearson

Which materials have you used in the children's shoe?

 The footwear concept was initiated by trying to combine a variety of waste materials thoughtfully and exploiting their material qualities to fulfil an alternative function.

In areas which required warmth and comfort I used soft felts and cotton from end of line materials and some sound deadening from a scrap vehicle. On the heel cap which will be subject to a lot of wear I used vinyl sign material, disposed of because the advert was no longer current. On the sole of the shoe I used leather offcuts - because I can be more careful in selecting the material I want than the manufacturer it’s easier for me to avoid imperfections.

Material experiments from A Series of Interventions by Rich Pearson

Who and what inspires you?

People like William McDonough, Michael Braungart and Victor Papanek have inspired me a lot and changed a lot of my original preconceptions regarding design and the responsibilities that a designer has.

New materials, interesting objects, textures, an object’s history, patinas, machinery, tools and military design are a few other things that inspire me.

Material experiments from A Series of Interventions by Rich Pearson

How do you think sustainable design will develop as an area?

I think that, to make a serious improvement on the current throwaway culture, it will take a major rethink by leading manufacturers and fashion leaders, and a change in consumers’ attitudes. Positive environmentally-conscious design should be commonplace.

What’s next for you?

 I plan to push my work further - following my philosophy, but also I hope that I could liaise with manufacturers to find creative and beneficial ways of diverting what they normally dispose of.


Sarah Housley