Photography Adrian Myers
"I'm quite a messy tea drinker," laughs 30-year-old British-Japanese ceramicist Reiko Kaneko, based in Stoke-on-Trent. While some people might hide this, Kaneko used it as inspiration for her 'Driptease' collection (right), which features gold or platinum 'drips' pouring down the side of crisp white ceramics. "As perfect as we design something, it's eventually going to be tea-stained and cracked. I like what comes out of everyday living," she says.
Since graduating from Central Saint Martins and establishing her studio in 2007, Kaneko has won a growing legion of fans - including Selfridges and chef Heston Blumenthal - for challenging the conventions of fine bone china. Kaneko lived in Japan until the age of eight and her dual upbringing has influenced her career. "Japanese people have an innate sense of what food goes with which dishes," she says. And her quirky design aesthetic? That's all British.
THE PRODUCT DESIGNER
For 32-year-old French-Canadian designer Philippe Malouin, great design is discovered through making, rather than sketching. "I try things out," he explains, "and when I find an interesting process or material, I start designing."
His 1:4 modular fruit bowls (above) are a case in point. In 2011, he was commissioned to produce work inspired by photos featuring a girl and her mother. "I decided the mother was a baker, and so experimented with materials, developing a perfect recipe." The result is a series of blocks, which form bowl shapes. "The spaces between the pieces mean air can circulate. You need that to conserve fruit."
Malouin's approach is a result of his international background. At the University of Montreal, he learnt "pure industrial design". Later, in Paris, he stepped into fashion, creating bags with Hermès. He then worked for Tom Dixon before establishing his own East London studio in 2008.
Following a successful 20-year career working in software design, brothers Robert (far left) and Gavin Paisley decided it was time for a change. "We're both huge architecture fans, and wanted to do something that still used our IT and CAD skills, while creating a product," explains Gavin, 43.
The answer came in 2011 with their architectural sculptures, which now sell everywhere from Liberty and Whitechapel Gallery to Paul Smith stores under the name Chisel & Mouse. First, the brothers choose an iconic building. They then input the original drawings or photographs of the building into their CAD software, producing a 3D image. Printing this on their 3D printer results in a model 'shell'.Tweaking proportions, they create a master mould in plaster, perfect the frontage and attach metal-edged doors and windows.
They now work on bespoke projects and sell 37 different sculptures - including miniatures of Glasgow School of Art (below) and Battersea Power Station - but they're reluctant to accept praise. "The architect is the artist," smiles Robert, 41. "We're just particularly good at replicating their designs to scale."
THE LIGHTING DESIGNER
"When I walk into a bar, the first thing I do is raise my head and look at the lights. Lighting can completely change a room," says 22-year-old Scottish designer Josie Morris.
Capturing this passion, her handle pendants - developed as part of her final year project at Northumbria University - won the 2013 Foundry Award for Lighting Design. Just six months later, they are being stocked by the likes of Heal's and Conran.
Of her approach to design, Morris says: "I've never been afraid to keep things simple, so my work is quite minimal - and I've always loved metal. Copper gives a warm aesthetic." She uses the material in her pendants as well as her range tables, which recently won Made.com's Emerging Talent Award, and are now being sold by the company.
The pendants, meanwhile, are available in two sizes, with handles in two finishes."They're designed to be a high-quality item for contemporary homes," Morris says.
THE FURNITURE DESIGNER
For Oliver Hrubiak, 24, furniture should be long-lasting. "I like to design products that fight against disposable culture, that people can keep and become attached to," he says.
Inspiration for his Finn range, currently stocked at John Lewis, came from mid-century Scandinavian design. "It's proven itself to have timeless aesthetics, as well as functioning really well," Hrubiak explains. "They use simple shapes and natural finishes, without any surface decoration that could go out of fashion."
With these design ethics in mind - as well as a focus on comfort - he developed the elegant, slimline Finn chair (below and right) while still at Nottingham Trent University.
Hrubiak has won several awards since graduating in 2012, including the New Designers John Lewis Award, the Lighting Association's Student Lighting Designer of the Year Award, and House Beautiful's Designer of the Future Award. He is currently producing furniture for &Then, John Lewis, and other clients.
THE TEXTILE DESIGNER
"I can tell what's in a fabric just by feeling it," says 32-year-old Nottinghambased designer Tori Murphy. "So much of my work comes down to feel, which is why I only use natural materials and fibres."
Murphy's cushions, throws, poufs and accessories may well feel fabulous - with fabrics woven in Lancashire, washed in the Yorkshire Dales and produced in Nottingham - but they look beautiful too.
Stocked everywhere from Selfridges to Daylesford Organic, they reference the Royal College of Art graduate's previous career in fashion textile design, working for clients including Christian Dior, DKNY and Fendi.
Since striking out on her own in 2012, she has released three collections, and collaborated with companies including Toast and Jo Malone. Summing up her design approach, Murphy says her pieces are "simple, honest and classic - with attention to detail and craftsmanship". They're also designed for life. "Unlike screen or digital printing, each pattern is integrated into the fabric, so they're here forever," she says.
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