Showcase 01 Mar 2017

Design Indaba’s Emerging Creatives: Ashlee Ainsley Lloyd

Born and brought up in South Africa, Ashlee Ainsley Lloyd received her Industrial Design degree from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology last year. Post her college, Lloyd has been dabbling in various aspects of design including furniture design, light design and product design, among others. She consciously tries to weave in traditional craft and contemporary skills into her work. She is currently gearing up to showcase a light design project at the upcoming Design Indaba festival in March, 2017. We speak to Lloyd about her work inspirations and about this new project. Edited excerpts below.

What inspired you to take up industrial design in the first place? Also, please tell us a bit about the kind of projects you have been working on. 

Well, having design as a subject in my high school fuelled my passion for designing objects and more importantly, for looking into why things were made the way they were. I have been inspired by my parents as well who are problem solvers, and love creating beautiful objects and figuring out how they work.  

After having completed my B.Tech in Industrial Design last year, I have been brainstorming about a collection of smaller lights. I also did a lighting installation piece/chandelier called ‘Molecular’ which was exhibited at The Southern Guild in a show called ‘A New Wave’. 

My practice is to blend the elements of hand-created craft and industry-related processes/materials. I feel that if you can make these elements coexist, you're onto a good thing. My recent projects involve furniture design, light design, crocheting, woodwork, an efficient bottle opener (college project), a regenerative greywater reuse system for urban households (thesis project), and superfood growing systems.

Could you elaborate a bit more on combining the hand-created craft and industry-related processes/materials aspect of your work?

While trying to find my own niche, I have always experimented with materials with a handcrafted approach – stitching, crocheting, weaving and intertwining – to see what I could come up with.

I am always more interested in getting out of the studio or classroom space, and interacting with the materials to try to find out what works and what doesn't. In college, I learnt designing on the computer and how wood, metal and plastics can be manufactured with the help of specialized industries. Eventually, I found a balance of mixing what makes me happy, which is traditional crafting techniques and the practicality and efficiency of utilizing and outsourcing from our industries in Cape Town. 

What are the elements that you particularly draw from South Africa into your work?

I have always looked at the natural world for inspiration. Cape Town is the perfect place to get inspired as it's so beautiful. I look for elements like the curves of the mountains surrounding us, and on a more molecular level, I look at the cell-like structures found in nature. 

Could you tell us about the collection that you would be exhibiting at Design Indaba this year?

I'm developing two different styles of lights. For the first one, I have taken elements from my last year’s lighting installation ‘Molecular’, and have created a more detailed and compact version of it. The second is a more contemporary shaped light with a detailed tactile texture. 

The inspiration for the collection comes mainly from playing with various materials. I love to experiment and mix various combinations together. For example, crocheting thicker materials creates a pattern with gaps in it and therefore, that experiment works perfectly for light to seep through into a room. My work is a surprise result of these sporadic processes.

Could you tell us about the making of this collection?

For the first range, I drew and developed a pattern to have it laser cut from mild steel. The mild steel is then powder coated to become a dark grey/black. With copper fitting cups and a clean cream cotton cable, the piece allows the crocheted texture to give into gravity as the piece would almost be floating off the steel frame. The second range/design has a handspun copper and black shade complementing the warm glowing ambient light bulb. The cotton cable and slight touch of cork on top of the shade contributes towards paying attention to detail. There is also a panel of textured materials growing off the edge of the metal shade, creating a bulbous-like entirety. 

This is part of our conversations with Design Indaba 2017. For more, click here.

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