Just a Lick of Paint
By Abdur Rehman Cheema
Designing a Sustainable Studio
This might be an unpopular opinion, but for me there’s few things more exciting - and exhausting - in life than moving. Especially when the move allows you to bring your dreams into reality, whether it be moving into a bigger space, more functional space, or even as simple as changing the layout of a room to create a new, refreshing energy.
For the Molten 1090 team, it was all of the above, plus the important addition of being able to apply our design aesthetic throughout the design of a new space.
Laura, our Creative Designer, had our circular design ethos in mind when refurbishing the space that kept us from wandering too far from our objectives. Creating a space that balanced the dramatic nature of glass blowing while allowing for a beautiful space to display our products which represented our brand and our design ethos throughout. Reflecting our belief in artisans and craftsmanship. We wanted to create a balance between the industrial making of glass and its beauty without overpowering. We also wanted to make the space as restorative as possible. A space practical enough for blowing glass and processing orders was as equally important as creating a welcoming environment for clients. As we settle into the space we will continue to source reclaimed items where useful, ensuring a holistic approach to inhabiting our studio.
We searched high and low for a space we loved and finally came across the perfect space in Stoke Newington.
Here’s a little more detail on the design journey.
Reclaiming & Repurposing
The beauty of reclaiming and repurposing materials is the ability to prevent new resources from being used and/or old resources from ending up unused and in a landfill. A great way to start a sustainable refurbishment project is to visit markets and reclamation yards or studios.
Retrouvius was beyond fun to explore, so much so that we of course wanted to buy so many more things than we needed or had budgeted for - but that’s forever the challenge in life, right? In their own words, ‘Retrouvius are driven by the belief that good materials and well-made things are precious’ and our Iroko and Teak timber salvaged from an old school is the epitome of ‘good material’. Our need for a hard wearing wood that would withstand the wear and tear of a working glass studio, making teak and iroko the perfect choice for us. Other reclaimed items we’ve used is the industrial shelving system designed and made by Lucy Ironworks in Oxford, part of a consignment from a well known British library and now houses our glass fresh out of the kiln. Our leather chairs in tan were also reclaimed from Retrouvius and are gorgeously made and more importantly comfortable.
"...contemplating the design of our hotshop we wanted it to be minimal, functional, clean and adaptable"
The Lick of Paint
Bauwerk limewash is a beautiful, breathable and non toxic paint so it was the only natural choice for our studio. Not only does Bauwerk paint produce the most beautiful colour and texture but a deep dive revealed it’s made from minerals so the limewash is naturally antibacterial and great for people with allergies. It’s non flammable so perfect for use within the hotshop area. The breathability and humidity regulating properties as it absorbs and releases moisture from the air works perfectly for our space. The limewash is made from minerals, clay and natural pigments and absorbs CO2 as it dries, creating the most beautiful effects.
Putting energy into creating a space that inspires our team and our clients, it was only natural we search for an equally passionate artisan to build our furniture. Our key criteria was to stay local, independent and creative. We didn’t have to trowel through our network too far before we came across Archie Hands who is a beautiful designer and maker of all things wood. Finding a maker you trust with your ideas, means you can hand over some creative licence and watch as the beauty unfolds. In our case - the shelving in our previous studio became a magnificent table, while old school desks became sleek cabinetry with a marble worktop.
Where new elements were required, we searched for handmade items such as our cabinet handles from Mark Lewis. The gorgeous brass fittings are cast in the UK and ergonomic in design and illustrate where function meets beauty.
In contemplating the design of our hotshop we wanted it to be minimal, functional, clean and adaptable. So what does that mean for a glassmaker? According to Laura it means, things have to be ergonomic, well ventilated, efficient and easy to clean! With these design principles in place, we created a space which is perfect for designing our glass whilst not compromising on aesthetics. The studio had previously been clad in metal and had housed a ceramics studio so there was a natural space for our furnace. A key practical element was for heavy objects to be on wheels creating space for manoeuvrability. There are also great skylights for air flow and letting in that precious natural sunlight. Our thinking was to create a space that’s aesthetically pleasing and also good for glassmaking and we think we reached our goal!