Two of the items that I am doing my first design board about are ‘Tiara for Maxima’ by Ted Noten, and ‘Thinking of You’ by Benjamin Lignel. Unfortunately, I was unable to find out what the methods of production were for these items, so I decided that instead of wasting another 4 hours trying to find out this unobtainable information, that I w0uld send emails to both of the designers directly, and see if I got a reply.

I sent this email to both designers:

“Hello, I am a student at Canterbury Christchurch University, and to cut a long story short, one of your pieces is now the forefront of one of my theory modules. We’re studying contemporary design, and I’ve been doing research on [NAME OF PIECE] after seeing an exhibition at the Design Museum in London recently, but I cannot find anywhere that describes the methods you used to construct this piece. I was wondering if you had the time to perhaps fill me in on this missing information! All I want to know is what production methods and processes were used to craft the piece as a whole, as I already have a list of materials (which I understand to simply be [KNOWN MATERIALS]) sourced from the exhibit – Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. – Daniel Tooley”

I wasn’t hopeful, but I did actually get replies from both of the designers!

Here is the reply from Ted Noten regarding ‘Tiara for Maxima’:

“Dear Daniel, Nice to hear that you are touched by my piece the tiara from Maxima. Your question might delete a myth but I don’t mind. Most people think I made it completely by hand the helmet. Pitty. I bought it for 120 pounds and cut the tiara with a simple tool from a jewellerymaker -a handsaw- of course it shows my craftsmanship and to be honest i was also very lucky that nothing went wrong. So you are right: (which I understand to simply be a chrome plated polo helmet). I love to make nice pieces with simple thoughts and simple tools. – best regards – Ted” 

This means that the only real production method used here was the tiara being cut from the helmet using a handsaw. I was quite interested to find out just how simple this was to achieve, as I thought a piece with intricate details on it such as this would have been more complicated to do.

Here is the reply from Ben Lignel regarding ‘Thinking of You’:

“Hello Dan, Ok – below is the text I usually use to introduce the series. As for the technique employed: I first take pictures of the ear I am making a portrait of, then I spend some time redrawing that image, and translating its features into simpler, recognizable elements. Once I have a sketch of the form I want to produce, I must find a way to get to that shape using flat sheet: this is the long part. There is much back and forth between my models (I use stiff card) and the sketch I made: usually between 4 and 8 versions. When this is finished, I have an outline, which I then cut from silver sheet, shape, solder, clean, and paint. Sometimes the pin in the back (which is added last) is a bit fiddly: but all in all, the process takes around 15 hours. Voila: does that work for you as a description? – b”

I guessed that there would be a out of sketching involved before a card version was constructed. I didn’t realise that this would then be used as an outline to cut the silver.

It was definitely worth sending the emails!