The Gathering Hand Exhibition: London Design Festival
During London Design Festival, GRAS presented The Gathering Hand—the first collection of furniture and objects by the awarded Edinburg-based architecture practice, made in collaboration with leading makers.
The Gathering Hand is derived from five decades of passionate, hands-on creation—historically in the fields of conservation, architecture and interiors—and from GRAS’s interest in interdisciplinary design. Through The Gathering Hand, the studio celebrates the innate human drive to make. GRAS’s Product Design Engineer, Alistair Byars, explains: “Our intention with the collection was to distil and communicate the value of physical creation: the use of both hand and mind to explore the potential of material and form. This age-old pursuit holds life-affirming benefits that are self-evident to the maker.”
The collection offers three product typologies, each made from tactile and evocative materials using a combination of traditional and contemporary techniques including bespoke joinery, mouth-blown glass and bead-blasted stone. The processes celebrate the skills of specialist makers and manufacturers, resulting in sensory yet functional tables, vessels and objects. Forms are carefully-proportioned and decidedly simple to reveal the innate qualities and textures of each singular material.
An exceptional level of craftsmanship has been achieved through collaborative, open design briefs that provided the makers with freedom to explore. Alistair offers: “For us, collaboration is the gathering of creative and technical hands in pursuit of a shared vision. This allows us to open the boundaries of what would be possible at an individual level. Our creative strength is anchored by the support and understanding of the makers we share our time and labour with. Their mastery of given materials and processes offers a wealth of inspiration.”
Four collaborators were selected based on their specific material expertise: local furniture designer Namon Gaston crafted the smoked oak bases of the Carpenter’s Tables, whilst Antwerp-based Studio Corkinho produced the scorched cork tabletops; Cambridge glass artist Edmond Byrne created the unique crackled texture of the Glassblower’s Vessels, while the Stonemason’s Objects were produced in Dorset by Albion Stone then bead-blasted by hand in Edinburgh. On the Carpenter’s Tables—available in Side, Low and Dining sizes, Charlotte Anne Declercq of Studio Corkinho explains: “The idea was to go all the way back to the source with these tabletops; to nature itself. Most of us are living in concrete cities and our need for natural environments grows by the day. We wanted people to experience a material that not only reminds them of nature, but really is nature.”
On the The Carpenter’s Tables—available in Side, Low and Dining sizes, Charlotte Anne Declercq of Studio Corkinho explains: “The idea was to go all the way back to the source with these tabletops; to nature itself. Most of us are living in concrete cities and our need for natural environments grows by the day. We wanted people to experience a material that not only reminds them of nature, but really is nature.” For Edmond Byrne, maker of The Glassblower’s Vessels including the Tumbler, Carafe and Vase, “it was important that materiality was at the heart of the project and that the designs complimented GRAS’s aesthetic. We engaged in a highly experimental approach which allowed us to identify the key processes and effects that resonated.”
Each piece communicates the work of the maker directly to the user, forging a strong connection from one hand to another. The collection also presents GRAS with an opportunity to explore architectural materials and forms at a smaller scale than is typical for the practice and in-turn, to transfer new understandings to their larger-scale projects. GRAS was invited to showcase The Gathering Hand at Blue Mountain School during London Design Festival 2022. The multidisciplinary venue aligns with GRAS’s holistic approach to design, and the raw, utilitarian space provides a symbiotic setting for GRAS’s study of natural materials and honest forms.
All products are made-to-order. For sales or exhibition enquires please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Edmond Byrne is a glass artist and educator with an experimental approach to process and making that explores tactility, colour psychology, sustainability, and digital craft. He has an MA from the Royal College of Art, Ceramics and Glass and a B.Des in Craft Design from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, and holds a Senior Lecturer position at De Montfort University’s multidisciplinary Design Crafts course. His award-winning work is exhibited in galleries and public collections internationally.
Studio Corkinho is a multidisciplinary design practice aiming to elevate stillness in contemplative atmospheres, based in Antwerp, Belgium. The studio designs limited editions within the fields of objects and furniture, as well as interiors and micro-architecture. Their architectural surfaces are created from burnt cork bark for calming, sensorial atmospheres strongly connected to Mother Earth and nourished by the benefits of cork’s versatility, tactility and performance.
Namon Gaston is an Edinburgh-based designer who has been producing beautiful handmade furniture for over 20 years. Inspired by mid-century Scandanavian designers and meticulous about his craft, Namon creates timeless pieces with a focus on materiality, practicality and comfort. He is passionate about timber and utilises both modern production processes alongside traditional techniques to create furniture pieces that will become heirlooms.