Featured Seller: Jenny Keate

Award-winning object designer Jenny Keate is blurring the lines between industrial design and handcraft in her Wellington studio, with her Luminant lamp paying tribute to a material central to craft.

Luminant Lamp

What do you make?
I generally make lamps. I dabble in other areas but always come back to lighting and lamp design, because I love the way that light can transform materials. I’m also involved in an industrial design project to make a lumbar support for use in a car.

Where do your ideas come from?
With Luminant, I knew I wanted to shine light through the hooked wool and was trying to find a way to make it work as a conventional tapered cylinder lampshade. I had someone make up a couple of lamp shades for me, but they were expensive to make and didn’t look perfect, especially where the fabric edges joined. So I decided to design a light shade from a single piece of fabric with no joins. While I was playing around with different shapes, one of the models looked a bit like an animal. This was such a good match with the material that I decided to go with a stylised sheep form.

"I get pleasure from the making process, and find it a real challenge to design objects that are both functional and beautiful."

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
A Bachelor of Design, majoring in industrial design, from Victoria University.

What motivates you?
I get pleasure from the making process, and find it a real challenge to design objects that are both functional and beautiful. Another motivating factor is the satisfaction I get when I feel I’ve designed something that adds to the story of New Zealand object design.

Jenny in her workshop, her preliminary sketches and the finished Luminant.

Describe your workspace: A corner of a room overlooking a busy Wellington street.

What is your design philosophy?
I try to create objects that deliver pleasure at every stage of their life. This involves caring about every aspect of the product, not just how it looks. My early lamp designs were basically illuminated sculptures, but now I try to design lamps that are functional as well as beautiful. Care for the total product involves caring about: my own enjoyment as the designer/maker (satisfaction gained from designing; well crafted); the environment (material selection; manufacturing processes; waste material; disposal); and the user’s enjoyment of the product (beauty; functionality; ability to be maintained or repaired).

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite material at the moment is wool. I love wool because it’s fantastically versatile and is linked in with New Zealand culture.

Prototyping using felted wool and cardboard

Your favourite childhood book? The Narnia books.

What are you reading now?
Alice Munroe – Too Much Happiness, Michael Smythe – New Zealand by Design

What are you currently listening to?
Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest, PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Recommend an album: Elvis Perkins – Elvis Perkins in Dearland

The Luminant is available on Felt and makes a great Kiwi-flavoured Christmas gift if you’re looking for something different!

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One Response to “Featured Seller: Jenny Keate”

  1. OOOHhh, I wish I could afford to buy that lamp. Not that it is over-prized, but my budget is strict. I love living sheep, I love sheep skin, I love the simplification of the sheep form and I love the warm light it gives. On my someday-wishlist!

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