Homegirl London pays homage to Nick Fraser. Who else would think about making coat racks, umbrella stands or candelabras out of pipework – Nick Fraser of course. In fact, he makes a creative collection of contemporary interior accessories and furniture. Aside from the ultra-cool pipework collection his other quirky designs include clocks with pins instead of numbers and pitchfork lights with birds perching on the handles. So you can see, his designs combine humour with functionality and a focus on quality and individuality. Nick uses a wide range of materials and processes to make his unique products, all of which are manufactured in the UK or by hand in his studio. His business started in Falmouth back in 2007 with support from the Design Centre’s business start-up program. Two years later he relocated to East London where he’s been ever since. Successfully selling his designs for over four years, you can now find his products in shops in many countries across Europe, North America and Asia. His clients include Paul Smith, Liberty, Google and The Design Museum. Nick answered a few questions for me.
Q: Tell me more about your trademark pipework collection, how did you come up with the idea and will you be adding any new products to the range?
A: Back when I was studying Art, I made a very large sculpture using plumbing materials which referenced the illustrator Heath Robinson’s drawings of eccentric machinery and Jean Tinguely’s kinetic art. It looked hyper-functional but actually did nothing at all. Years later after graduating, I re-visited the idea but made it functional starting with the Hall Stand, which I exhibited in Milan in 2007. It was received very well and since then I have created many variations, and these have become a large part of my business. I don’t think I will ever stop making new products for the Pipework Series … I don’t really feel like I’ve touched the surface yet. The most recent addition is the Coat Rack Edition which I first showed at the Barbican Centre. This is a limited edition of 60 which have gone down really well. I plan to add a few more products to this later in the year which I am excited about.
Q: You make a lot of the products by hand in your workshop, how long does it take to make the pipework pieces?
A: Well after 3 years of practice I have got it down to the minimum but it still takes longer than I’d like. It varies per product but between 20 minutes and 2 hours. There are quite a few tasks to go through before they are complete so I break it down into stages.
Q: Do you have any of your pieces at home – which pieces and where are they?
A: I do, although most of the time they are the prototypes or seconds (sob, sob) as the rest are for selling / exhibiting. I have two coat racks, one in my hall and one in the bedroom for my girlfriend’s bags. I also have the slot shelves for my books above the bed and the Three Oak Tree tables in my living room. My sister actually has more than I do as she has a lovely big flat in an old grammar school – It’s a bit like a Nick Fraser showroom which is a bit much really but she’s happy and it’s free storage for me!
Q: Your products have a great sense of humour in the design, tell me more about this.
A: I just like objects that make you smile. I guess I play with the familiarity of an item and by altering its context slightly, it can allow people to look at it in a different way. This is often humorous and I think that’s a positive thing. Design can sometimes be very serious which can make it less accessible.
Q: Which designer do you admire most and why?
A: So many to choose from … but there was an exhibition called The Front Room at the Milan International Furniture Fair this year that I read about (unfortunately I couldn’t go once again). It was full of beautiful things. The theme was geometry and colour but there were strong elements of craft within each piece and also some playful thinking. It was made up of work from many designers … I particularly liked Daphna Laurens, Earnest Studio, David Derksen and Phil Cuttance.
Q: What’s in-store for 2012? Are you designing any new collections / working on new projects?
A: It’s been a great year so far and there are lots of new things in the pipeline. I am currently re-branding, revisiting old projects and designing new ones. The aim is to launch it all in September at Maison et Objet in Paris. I’m excited and exhausted just thinking about it! Products include a fruit bowl, an upholstered chair and a table lamp made from materials and processes I have not worked with before. Watch this space!
Here’s a selection of Nick’s handiwork – all products are available to buy from Nick Fraser. Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Nick Fraser, special thanks to Nick.
Pipework coat rack edition, £190, available in 3 colours, limited edition of 60
Pipework coat rack single, £78, available in 6 colours
Pipework candelabra two, £39, available in 6 colours
Fork light, £195
Three oak tree tables, price on application
Pin clock, £58
Herb terracotta pots, £28 each, £65 for a set of three