Interview with Phil Cuttance
Dsigndot: Hi Phil, Thanks for joining us on Dsigndot, we are very happy to have you with us, from our launch. Well if we could we would like to ask you a few questions.
Phil your work is really interesting and looks to be digital, no handmade. What inspired you to create this process that has such wonderful results?
Phil Cuttance: I wanted to design a process first, and have that dictate the shape of the object, but make the process easily understood by any viewer. I wanted to create a process that was simple, repetitive BUT produced a unique object every time. I experimented with casting moulds and materials before finding the process I settled on, I was happy with the simplicity of the moulds especially. They are very easy and quick to make, and re usable over and over.
Dsigndot: Can you explain how did you arrive at the concept for the FACETURE vase? Had you worked in that medium or product type before?
Phil Cuttance: The form is dictated by the shape of the mould. I wanted to make a moulding process which makes a repetitive process using the same mould, but each piece is unique. That was the initial concept. Moulds for manufacturing are typically expensive, time consuming to make, and make the exact same shape repeatedly. I wanted to explore the concept of adding value to an object by creating it in a way that renders it unique, without it needing to be sculpted by hand in a time consuming, labour intensive, way. I have created by hand, using common plastic sheet costing less than £1, many moulds that each produce truly unique objects, but through a repetitive process and coming out of the same mould. Falling between an expensive, repetitive casting process that makes identical pieces (often perceived as cheap/throw away) and one – off handmade art pieces, the Facet objects fall on the middle of this scale; unique, handmade objects that come out of the same mould!
Dsigndot: That's so interesting as you are in effect redesigning the manufacturing process, almost stepping back in time - but also forward. Do you think that has implications beyond your work?
Phil Cuttance: Not for me really. I am a fan of simple traditional manufacturing processes. I like re thinking traditional industrial processes, re imagining them in simplified lo-fi way. I hope the Faceture process is simple for people to understand, enabling people to see and understand what goes into making an object, and its value. I have also enjoy physically making things to so Like that theres is a physical element to making these pieces. People don't typically see household objects being made locally the way they did not so long ago, so forget how things are made, and what is involved. I think its more about simplifying, than looking forward.
Dsigndot: Can you tell us a bit about your previous work experience and your native country New Zealand and if those things have informed you process, development and outlook? We are fascinated that you worked with such great people and are paving your own road, a road that has such a unique and interesting place in the culture of production.
Phil Cuttance: I started making work based on materials and processes with my 'Weld' Furniture I debuted in Milan in 2009, a couple of months after I had moved to London from New Zealand. I had travelled to exhibit at the Salone in Milan a couple of times previous to that, from NZ. It was along way to travel, to then return to NZ and find myself missing out on opportunities in Europe due to geography. I found my trips to Exhibit in Milan pretty inspiring, so a move to this side of the world was logical. London has an amazing design community, and I was lucky enough to find myself working for the likes of Glithero and Martino Gamper, from whom I learnt a lot.
Dsigndot: Can you please walk us through the entire process of creating the Faceture vase?
Phil Cuttance: The FACETURE process I have created starts with the creation of a simple mould. The variable, inexpensive moulds I make to cast the pieces in are hand-cut from a piece of 0.5mm plastic sheet. This sheet of thin plastic is turned into a strong accurate moulding tool by scoring into it a simple tessellated pattern and then rolling it into a cylindrical shape. The triangular facets are then popped in and out in different ways every time the mould is used to cast a piece - this creates a unique final form for every piece produced.
The casting jig at the back of the machine is simple and allows me to peer into the mould and control the flow of the fast setting resin, ensuring it is being cast evenly and economically, leaving a thin yet strong wall thickness. It can be attached at two different widths to accommodate different sized moulds.
Similar to a commonly used rotational-moulding process, the FACETURE process involves me controlling the rotation and ‘tip’ of the open topped mould as the solid setting resin is swirled around inside. I look down inside the mould as I tip and turn the jig ensuring the flow of setting liquid is evenly spread inside the mould. The resin, soon sets creating a hollow solid ( a vase, lightshade, table…) then another, different coloured measure of the water-based resin is poured into the same mould, over the first. In the same way I swirl it evenly around inside the mould. When it has set I remove the mould from the casting-jig and peel away the mould to reveal the solid set cast piece. The casting appears almost perfect, with sharp accurate lines, that appear digitally made, a surprise considering the ‘lo-fi’, hand made process from which it came. The mould is then cleaned and ready for re-use.
Dsigndot: We can imagine people are blown away that every vase is unique. How has the response been to your work? How do people react?
Phil Cuttance: The response has been great, and caught me by surprise. I'm still getting a lot of orders, and it has been nice to get many commissions for Other FACETURE pieces, including a XL vase for Dezeen, and FACETURE trophies for ICON magazines Inaugural design awards.
Dsigndot: We understand you want to use this process to create a more diverse range of products, what are your plans?
Phil Cuttance: Keep making commissioned pieces and further experimenting with larger pieces, as the process has a lot of potential.
Dsigndot: That sounds great, we look forward to seeing what’s next. Thanks again Phil - been great getting some time with you to chat a bit.