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Icon Awards trophies: Phil Cuttance 07.12.12

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Phil Cuttance, a designer who moved to London from New Zealand three years ago, has designed the inaugural Icon Design Award using his "faceture" technique. The striking result resembles the digital products of Zaha Hadid's studio, but is created using a refreshingly lo-fi technique.

They are made on a workstation that Cuttance hoped to flatpack and transport to the Milan Furniture Fair this year, so he could save on the expense of shipping by creating work there. It wasn't ready in time for Salone, but he created a film showing him making one of his elegant, faceted vases on the machine, a Rube Goldberg contraption on which he can make three pieces a day.

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credit David Sykes

"This movie seems to have gone nuts," Cuttance says when I meet him at the north London workshop he shares with Glithero, the studio for which he once worked. By turning design into a form of performance art, he has garnered a great deal of interest, winning commissions from all around the globe. The movie can be seen on Cuttance's website; the machine was displayed alongside it during the London Design Festival at the Icon stand in Earl's Court.

Cuttance trained as a cabinet-maker and his machine is beautifully finished and well thought out – everything has a special purpose. To begin the process, Cuttance grids a 0.5mm-thick sheet of polypropylene on his portable workbench, which he then scars with a Stanley knife. This is folded, cut and joined with tape to create a mould, which can be manipulated to fashion a series of sharp-edged triangular indentations. A base is added – vinyl cut with a logo and number that leaves its mark on the finished object.

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The water-based polycast resin with which the vase is made is mixed in the machine's funnel, which he refers to as the "hopper", and the required pigment is added from a row of colourful jars that sit on a shelf above the workstation – charcoal, blue, yellow, pink and white. The liquid and powder are mixed using a whisk that is powered by a large hand-cranked wheel mounted on the side of the device. Cuttance then moves around to the back end of his cart, where the mould is mounted on another wheel, referred to as the "casting jig". The fast-setting resin is added as this is rotated, so the material rolls around inside the mould. After it sets, another layer of resin of a different colour is used for the interior of the vase. Additional vases can be created from the same mould, which is adapted for each use, so that no two vessels are the same.

As well as vases and the Icon trophies, Cuttance makes lampshades and side tables using his technique. However, his machine now sits unused in the corner of his studio. "I'm making them in such volumes now that I'm here seven days a week," Cuttance explains. "So I'm using a drill to stir the resin, and generally speeding up the process. It's still batch production – they're definitely handmade. I'd still be using the machine if there wasn't such a lot of demand."

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Image

Phil Cuttance

 

Words

Christopher Turner

quotes story

By turning design into a form of performance art, he has garnered a great deal of interest, winning commissions from all around the globe

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