When Kirsty Whyte - new Made.com designer and creator of the Limpet Hooks - first visited our offices, it was like a burst of fresh creative energy breezing through the 11th floor. Full of ideas and thoughtful insights, it's no wonder we couldn't wait to welcome her to the family!
We made sure we found out a little more about her before she was whisked away to scour the globe for exciting new design opportunities on our behalf:
Describe your design style in 3 adjectives.
Simple, Pure, Accessible
What motivated you to work in design?
Since I can remember I’ve always been at home making things from cereal packets and loo rolls! When I was little my treat before going to bed was completing a page in a colouring in book with my mum.
I always feel privileged that my job is my hobby and passion. On weekends and evenings design is still on my mind and I go to design shops and design exhibitions whenever I can – for fun.
What's a typical working day for you?
Usually I split my time between working for myself and freelancing for other companies. I like keeping my work varied, as that way you always learn new things and meet interesting people.
At the moment my life is much more exciting though: I’ve very recently started freelancing as a designer for Made.com in their Shanghai office. It’s panning out to be an invaluable experience working direct with the manufacturers to get original designs out to UK customers. I love the idea of someone buying and enjoying something I’ve worked on.
What inspired the Limpet Hooks?
Most of the time I’m inspired by the material and the process; which then evolves to create the final design.
Can you tell us a little more about the design process for them?
I started by cutting lots of different cone shapes and trimming them to what I found pleasing and tactile; my wall was covered in them in all different colours!
How would you describe the Limpet Hooks in one sentence?
Fun and colourful mollusc-shaped hooks - practical when in use and interesting wall art when not.
What was the thinking behind the materials and colours you used?
I wanted to create a warm and tactile shape, incorporating bright colours that complement each other and their surroundings.
And what would you say is the most standout feature of the design?
I haven’t seen anything else around like it at such a good price. A hook that fits within homes, restaurants and offices alike... They just look great in a long line.
How would you describe good design in general?
It's something that fulfills and surpasses its need. A design that is timeless and therefore sustainable. It's better to have the same plastic cup you use every day than a paper one you buy and throw away every day. And finally, something that enhances your life, either practically or aesthetically.
What are your three favourite things, and why?
My iPhone – as it helps organize my life.
My sketchbook and pen – everywhere I go they go. My sketchbook is full of notes, scribbles and to-do lists!
Who – living or not - inspires you and why?
Companies like “Pinch” and “Orla Kiely”, as they are run by successful “design duos” - which I aspire to be with my creative other half.
What do you do to unwind?
When I'm in London, I love going around all the free museums, especially the V&A. There's always something new to see, and a delicious scone and cup of tea in the café after I've walked my socks off!
In Shanghai the pace of life is different, it seems frantic on the surface with traffic everywhere, but underneath everyone's pretty chilled out! On the weekends my boyfriend and I like to wander around one of the many parks. They're full of greenery, and people doing all types of activities - Tai Chi, Kung Fu, dancing and kite flying. There's always something to watch.
What book are you reading?
Unfortunately reading a book is a luxury that I only ever do on holiday when I have time to relax and get really immersed. Most of my free time is spent flicking though design magazines like Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Icon, Wallpaper… the list goes on. Needless to say I need more storage to keep them all in.
'Roman Holiday' & 'A Matter of Life and Death'
No, I’ve never had one... apart from a goldfish that lived for years!
Where would you most like to visit and why?
That’s a really hard question! I've been lucky enough to see a lot of amazing places, but there are always so many more on the list.
I think I'd like to see the Norwegian fjords. I'd love to go snowboarding in Canada. I'd also like to visit Egypt, it's fascinated me since childhood: for a brief time I wanted to be an archaeologist!
Tell us about your upcoming projects.
I’ve just had two designs launched at Heal's for 'Heal's Discovers 2011' which is really exciting, so I’m hoping they’ll sell well and it will be a stepping stone to designing for other retailers and design brands.
Finally, what's your favourite Made.com product and why?
The Tripod Side Table – I saw it on a design blog which linked to me discovering the Made.com website. I think it's a simple timeless piece of design. For some reason I find it really pleasing - when I have a house, I’m buying one!
A little background:
Kirsty graduated with a first-class degree in Decorative Arts from Nottingham Trent University in 2003, where she specialised in kiln formed glass. She then studied Glass Design at Kalmar University in Sweden. In 2008 she set up her London design studio and has worked with several major retailers in her career to date. She has exhibited in the UK and abroad including London, Stockholm, Milan and Paris. Already a winner of several awards, in 2011 she was selected as one of the eight designers for the prestigious 'Heal's Discovers'.