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. Some designers struggle to express this process in words; it is entirely intuitive. For others, the words help: the struggle to articulate a concept allows them to refine and crystallize it.
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 by the fluid amber of car headlights, it is both gestural and formulaic.
‘For me, the starting point was the contrast between the hardness of the city and the softness of the human body. Cities are resistant, edgy, repetitive, with a multiplicity of levels and scales, whereas human bodies are delicate, fluid, idiosyncratic; the contrast between the two is where the aesthetic life of the city really lies. I wanted to map the movements of people through the urban landscape; the continual ebb and flow that binds the city together. It is the tension between these two aspects of modern life, the mechanical and the human, that forms the basis for the new furniture ranges.
The Suspension series unites bodily images of bondage, ties and restraint with urban images of bridges and industrial suspension systems. The series explores the ways in which humane lines and fluid forms combine with the tensile structures necessary to holds everything together. ‘There is an interesting psychology here’ – says North – ‘A uniquely urban mentality. I wanted to translate that mentality into the furniture designs.’ Examining the pieces, you can see what she means: notice the fluid ways in which rope moves in and out of the lighting and furniture, while the metal connections creating points of constriction and draw the designs together. The designs stage a drama of exposure and concealment, glass-topped tables offering glimpses of unexpected angles, while rope disappears into the internal workings.
The Strobe / Vault series, on the other hand, is about rigidity and repetition. Here finely crafted stainless-steel rods, glass, heavy leather and burnished metallic finishes make up an industrial aesthetic of precision and refinement. ‘These furniture pieces are serious and heavy, and feel like they have been de-coupled from a larger piece of machinery’ says North. ‘Yet they are smooth and polished, beautifully proportioned and intriguing’. At moments they recall the door of a bank vault; a combination of precise craft with sheer mass. The suspended lighting connections are exposed in stepped shapes where a leather harness bisects metal suspensions points; these in turn relate to a metal cuff that grips the glass rods.
The Chasm series takes complexity and makes it simple. Combining glass and metal in a champagne gold finish, horsehair and leather for the lighting, these pieces are intricate and layered. North compares them to the ‘inner workings of a building, or perhaps a zoetrope’ (a 19th century animation device that gave the illusion of movement).