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In discussion with Nathanael Hunt


Design Guild Mark - October 26, 2021 - 0 comments

Nathanael Hunt is an industrial designer working for London-based studio Haberdashery.

Nathanael’s work for Haberdashery started with bespoke sculptural lighting and is now focused solely upon consumer lighting products and design objects.

In 2021 Nathanael was awarded a Design Guild Mark in our Lighting Design category for the Introvert Extrovert range.

The range explores the dynamic interplay between two unique states of being realised through two connected but independent illuminated elliptical forms.

We sat down with Nathanael to find out more about him.

Who is your design hero?

The breadth of Marc Newson’s work is something to aspire to; as a student I loved the idea that, by the end of your career, you could have designed each object in your home. Marc Newson’s done that and he’s now onto space ships… I’ve done a few lights.

I also love the Bouroullec Brothers work and the use of colour and sensitivity to materials. Their work is quite varied but there’s a playfulness in many of their projects that’s inspiring.

When did you first decide you were going to be a designer?

I think I must have been about 16, studying Design in my GCSE’s, when I realised that you could have a career in design. I’m not sure that I appreciated that every object had been designed by someone, before then.

My school had a great design department and a couple of especially supportive teachers who I learnt a lot from, their encouragement was as valuable as anything else. I owe a lot to them.

What was your first big break in the industry?

I can’t say that I’ve had a ‘big break’ yet but winning the Red Dot: ‘Best Of The Best’ award for Haberdashery’s ‘Dawn To Dusk’ Table Light and Floor Light in 2019, felt like some kind of validation. I remain really proud of those products.

What was the first product you ever designed?

The first commercially available product that I designed was ‘Canopy’, a pendant light for Haberdashery. Canopy, the first product in Haberdashery’s contemporary collection, was designed to be evocative of dappled sunlight flooding through leaves above.

Light projected onto a lead crystal shade can be seen to move very subtly, as the dappled light of a forest does in a breeze. Whilst the decorative light upon the pendant is gently animated – static light shines down creating a functional element.

Prior to that, I’d spent a few years designing bespoke sculptural lighting with Haberdashery, for luxury residential projects that had very different constraints.

What do you enjoy about being a designer?

As a designer I love the problems that each new project throws up, and the amount of learning that you must do to find a solution. That might be learning about a new material, understanding the intricacies of a manufacture process, or just trying to resolve a design. The moment that you think you’ve found the solution, any one detail can change and you’re be back to square one.

What is the most frustrating aspect of your job?

Time, and the lack of.

Which design are you most proud of?

Haberdashery’s ‘Dawn To Dusk’.

‘Dawn To Dusk’ is a Table Light or Floor Light – identical besides height – which evokes the memory of the rising and setting sun. As the head is lifted, the light turns on from off and smoothly transitions from dim, rich and vivid reds – to warm oranges – through to the bright, cool light of the midday. You have the experience of lifting the sun from below the horizon and leaving it there.

I’m proud of how much complexity and development time is hidden from the user, in what is such and intuitive product in use. I still love the reaction the moment a person sees it in motion for the first time.

What is your creative process? 

At Haberdashery we find a narrative and explore what that means to us. That might be something as literal as ‘Dawn To Dusks’ ‘sunrise’, or as abstract as ‘Introvert Extroverts’ ‘Duality’ – I find it really important to keep the early stages of a concept as broad as possible before narrowing the focus.

When exploring these narratives, I hoard imagery that’s often only tangentially relevant, but the rabbit holes that I follow usually take me somewhere more interesting.

I’ll brainstorm/mind map basically everything that comes into my head, then try and find some direction in the noise. At this point there’s rarely any drawings, but perhaps some chicken scratches that slowly develop into something which can be discussed with the team.

What influences you?

Nature, the city and contemporary art generally. I realised the value of those things over the COVID lockdowns, when getting out of the flat became much harder and it felt that fresh ideas were harder to come by.

So much industry work is on Instagram now, which is great, but I’m cautious about how much of an echo chamber it is and what negative influence that might have – I still love a good print magazine when I want to see what’s happening in design across the globe.

Is there a product you wish you’d designed?

In the lighting industry, Michael Anastassiades’ ‘Arrangements’ for Flos – which is so elegant in its simplicity. I see that piece everywhere and I’d like to have the same experience with my own work.

Similarly, any product that has the longevity of something like the Bialetti Moka Express, seen everywhere and used with much love, every day.

 

For more information about Nathanael Hunt, go to https://nathanaelhunt.com/

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