New Designs and Their Subliminal Roots

I’ve just finished some new designs and was asked ‘why pears?’ The answer is easy, the simple organic shape of a pear is beautiful and a perfect form to celebrate a simple line of colour. No fuss, no interference, just a very pleasing shape. I hope you agree.

Red Pear Mug

Pear Mug in Red designed by Niki Fulton.

 

But it has just dawned on me that I was heavily influenced. I’ve been living underneath an enormous pear tree for the last twenty years. It produces clouds of white blossom in Spring which literally stops people in their tracks.

 

pear blossom

By September hundreds of small green pears fall from a great height (thirty metres or so) smashing into pulp on impact with the tarmac below attracting rabbles (had to look that collective noun up) of butterflies. The pears are small and hard and gather such a speed that it actually becomes quite treacherous reaching my front door!

Pear Mug Green

Pear Mug in Green. Design by Niki Fulton

 

So walking underneath a pear tree every day seems to have seeped into my psyche and appeared in my designs. So that’s where it came from.

The pears have also made their way onto Fife Linen which can be ordered by the metre from Printed & Co , an exciting new venture which fully launches on the thirteenth of February at the Kalopsia Collective Gallery with a taster on show this Friday at the launch of The Facility .

Pear Drops, tan

‘Pear Drops, Tan’ on Fife Linen. Design by Niki Fulton. Available from Printed & Co.

Pear Drops

Pear Drops on Fife Linen. Design by Niki Fulton. Available from Printed & Co.

 

So realising quite how influenced by our surroundings we obviously are, I had a closer look at a design I’m currently working on called ‘Vaki Rocks‘.

This was a purely spontaneous random design… or so I thought.

I have a stunning piece of Lewisian Gneiss in my bathroom. In my eyes it’s one of the most beautiful things I have and the fact that the rock is over three billion years old and has therefore been around for longer than any animal, it’s pretty mind blowing. I look at my ‘random’ design and there I spot my beloved rock. I certainly didn’t set out to paint a rock, I just went with the flow.

Gneiss & linen

Chair & rock

Vaki Rock Collage

‘Vaki Rocks’ print on Fife Linen design by Niki Fulton

This revelation also backs up my theory that children’s toys should be beautiful/interesting objects because between the ages of 0-5 our brains are even more receptive and children often handle toys for hours and hours, turning them over in their hands, feeling them, and viewing them from every possible angle. I doubt great lumps of mass produced plastic are ever going to have such long term positive influences on us as a beautifully carved timber toy or a piece of nature found on a walk. Timber toys last for generations and need not be an expensive option as they can be small, beautiful, robust and more importantly, kept. Surely if our surroundings are having such a big impact on us we should pay attention to what we use, even if it’s an every day object. This is one reason why good design is so important. But over to you,

Can you spot any subliminal influences in your creations?

 

 

Norway’s Porsgrund Meets Finland’s Marimekko

I’m treading carefully here and may sound overly laconic but I’m coaxing my brain into defrost mode (doesn’t help having a broken boiler, mind you…)

Terracotta man by Lawrence Epps

Terracotta man by Lawrence Epps

Where do designs come from? The conscious and unconscious routes a designer takes are of great interest to me. Perhaps we constantly collect design inspiration throughout life, storing it in our brains until a spark unearths it? Personally I would go even further and say that design blueprints from centuries ago are stored in our DNA. I’m sure that’s why a strong and recognisable design ‘style’ can be be attributed to succinct geographic locations. If you’ve read my blog before, you will know I am drawn to Scandinavian design and the Northern colour palette.

I’ve recently been searching for some new dinnerware and while sifting through hundreds of images on line, I came across Marimekko’s siirtolapuutarha plates. I knew within a split second that I had found what I was looking for.

Marimekko plate

marimekko close up

Then, one evening last week I was enjoying an evening meal on my new plates (colourful food looks fantastic on them by the way, which is a relief as I’ve previously erred for trusty plain white dinnerware) my eyes drifted onto my all time favourite possession, a porcelain coffee set made by the Norwegian company porsgrund which my parents bought for themselves from a design shop in Edinburgh in 1962 and have since given to me. It is fine white porcelain with a shiny gold design on it. It’s delicate, slightly naive and utterly beautiful and even after many years of feasting my eyes on it, I still get butterflies in my stomach whenever I look at the set. What I hadn’t realise when I bought the Marimekko plates was that I was buying a piece of Finnish design in 2014 that looked like the ‘grandchild’ of the Norwegian Porsgrund coffee set my parents bought fifty years earlier. Do you see a passing resemblance or is it just me?

coffee cup coffee cup cream jug

Unfortunately I don’t know the Norwegian designers name (I must contact the porcelain factory to see if they have any information in their archive) and I think my Marimekko plates are designed by Maija Louekari and I doubt there is any connection (other than both being Scandinavian) between them but I think the essence is definitely there.

I am working on some new designs at the moment, something a little different from my other pieces and already I am wondering why I have come up with each particular design and indeed do I have any conscious decision in the end result at all or is it predetermined from some primal calling deep within or has it stemmed from a previous visual experience which is surfacing in the design work I do today? Who knows. However, in order to delve a bit deeper into neurological pathways and how I use them, I have enrolled on a meditation course which starts this week and my plan is to work on designs immediately after each class – I can’t wait to see what it unlocks.

Do you meditate and if so, do you feel more creative as a result?

+ I am delighted to report that since writing this post, the Norwegian porcelain factory, Porsgrund have been in touch and my beautiful coffee set is ‘Regent’ model and the design is called ‘Corona Gull’. It was designed by Tias Eckhoff who trained in Oslo and Denmark and his pioneering porcelain work for Porsgrund and flatware for Georg Jensen in the 1950’s earned him many awards and was seen as a pioneer in the Scandinavian design movement. I am absolutely delighted to have this precious information, thank you Marte at Porsgrund.+