Blainey North’s furniture collection is the direct result of her experience in high-end interior design and her broad-ranging intellectual curiosity.
Ideas, which begin as bespoke for a particular project find wider application and the concepts, into which she deep dives, provide layers of richness to her designs.
While drawing on a wide spectrum of art and cultural influences the furniture and lighting pieces have a distinct Blainey North signature – luxurious, crafted and glamorous.
Man & The Machine
It is fascinating to follow an idea from its genesis to its full creative expression be it in art, film or design. For some it is entirely intuitive, and they struggle to express it in words, for others the process of articulating a concept allows for refinement, crystallising it into form, material and function.
Blainey North falls into the latter category. Stimulated by an image of Hong Kong at night with the layered, pattern-making of a thousand densely packed sky-rise buildings cut through the middle with the fluid amber of car headlights, it is both gestural and formulaic.
“The notion of mapping, of tracing human movement through a city was the starting point for me. Cities are hard, with a multiplicity of levels and differing scales, their repetitive nature generating an edgy beauty. Human bodies on the other hand are soft and the movements are random creating these idiosyncratic trails within the urban landscape’, says North.
It is the tension between these two aspects of modern life that form the basis for the new furniture range.
Researching images of bondage with its notions of restraint on soft skin and the marking of bodies through the imprint of a mechanical tattoo design informed the process. ‘There is an interesting psychology I wanted to unpick and translate some of those concepts into the furniture designs’, says North. Exploiting the fluidity of rope to move in and out of the lighting and furniture designs, while metal connections are used to draw it together creating points of constriction. There is a play with concepts of exposure, through glass-topped tables, and the hidden, where the rope disappears into the internal workings.
Another concept concerns rigidity and repetition where finely crafted stainless-steel rods, glass, heavy leather and burnished metallic finishes channel a refined sense of industry where precision is paramount. “These furniture pieces are serious and heavy,’ says North, ‘they feel like they have been de-coupled from a larger piece of machinery. Yet they are smooth and polished, beautifully proportioned and intriguing’. In the suspended lighting connections are exposed in stepped-shapes where a leather harness bisects to metal suspensions points, which in turn relate to a metal cuff that grips the glass rods.
A recurring step motif introduces a refined complexity. Combining glass and metal in a champagne gold finish, horsehair and leather for the lighting, these pieces are intricate and layered ‘like looking into the workings of a building’, says North. The Vault coffee table is mesmeric inside and out with its highly polished, facetted form taking on external reflections. A glass top renders the inward view equally as compelling.
The Vault Chandelier is monumental in size and matched by an intricately of construction with a regimented combination of clear crystal glass panels, metal rods, and glass panels with bevelled edges. “The city is my happy place,’ says North, ‘strangely it is where I feel most calm and most inspired by what I see and experience and that is what has generated these ideas that all relate back, in one way or another, to Man and the Machine”.