Design As Catalyst
Rowan's work is primarily concerned with reconsidering precise methodologies of design and production whilst exploring ideas of serendipity through process. His outcomes are led by materials and manufacturing methods developing a vernacular aesthetic that can be both socially and environmentally positive. Through projects that blend digital design processes with imprecise and unruly production techniques, Rowan's work looks past the hyper-real of mass manufacture, attempting to tap into the intangible personality of the imperfect object.
Whilst studying at the Royal College of Art, Rowan's work has touched on areas ranging from printing artificial reefs to waste from the kaolin mines of North Cornwall. Returning to university in his late 20's, his studies have often pursued a dogma of exploration. His projects do not seek to resolve problems but rather are used to test hypotheses and to challenge assumptions.
With a background in carpentry and working as a ceramicist, Rowan is frequently aiming to marry design's idealism with the difficulties currently facing small manufacturers in the UK. The current paradigm of innovation prioritises progress and invention. Rowan’s work approaches social, environmental and economic issues by shifting an undue preoccupation on ‘product’ and ‘user’ toward local economies, skills and communities.
As we are emerging from a global disaster, design will inevitably present itself as a key tool for exploring and proposing solutions. My work has taught me that design can be most active by working with the communities of makers and manufacturers that sustain our local economies. Hardly grand innovation, these interdisciplinary groups are evolving their work to promote good material values and reject the exploitation of people in a race to the bottom. Working in this way disregards ‘solutionism’, proposing an alternative to recursive innovation and, in my experience, has greater potential for change. Without a solution, designing in this way is a constant and evolving challenge that will form the foundation of the work that I hope to go on to after the RCA.
Sand cast T section
Sand cast base
Printed base - ready for sand casting
Printed T section - ready for sand casting
Sand cast bridge
Sand cast off axis T section
Best Bench, made during the Covid-19 lockdown period, was developed through a series of 3D printed components designed around the only locally available timber... a broom handle. The elements were prepared & printed at home and mailed to Whitton Castings.
Medium:Sand cast aluminium, broom handles, rivets, birch ply, PLA
Size:100cm x 26cm x 47cm
Medium Kotto Tile
Settling tanks - Google Earth
Wedging recycled clay
Finished clay body
Long Kotto Tiles
Small Kotto Tile
Slag spreading - Malador Pit
Clay matrix diagram
Kotto tiles, vases and vessels are made from the minerals extracted in the refinement processes in combination with a kaolin based clay. The natural minerality of the ground is valued rather than refined out, creating a visual language that is unique to the heritage and geology of that part of North Cornwall. All elements of the Kotto project were retrieved from defunct pits around St. Dennis.
Medium:Kaolin, feldspar, quartz, silica, bentonite and other waste minerals
Six part mould construction
Kotto Vase #2
Kotto Case #3
Kotto Vase #4
The six-part mould can make five or more products; the vases, lights & bowls are all produced using the mould in different arrangments. Made in this way out of necessity during the lockdown period, the mould is more productive and has more variation whilst using fewer materials - all values that would be beneficial in any small studio practice.
Medium:Kotto ceramics & plaster mould
The handles, in an uncomplicated way, are a good example of Best Practice. We import plastic equivalents from around the world, objects with no origin embedded in their appearance, made of complex, often unrecyclable materials. Best Handle is an irregular alternative that's simplicity belies its potential to support skilled work in the local economy.
Medium:Sand cast aluminium
Marine Devs. reef module diagram
Marine Devs. material sample #2
Marine Devs. material sample #3
Reef module illustration
Marine Devs. - Open Book
Reef proposal exhibit
Reef module layout
“Sustainable success of restoration efforts depends on successful recruitment and, therefore, not only on the supply of sufficient larvae but also on the availability of suitable substrate. After their planktonic phase, oyster larvae prefer to settle on oyster shells. Suitable and abundant settlement substrate is a major limiting factor for Ostrea edulis recovery in areas with natural spatfall and of high importance for sustainable restoration.”
Marine Devs. proposes a 3D printed modular reef structure that is made from the same material as that of the historic oyster reefs, CaC03. The emergence of cement 3D printing would allow these modules to be designed and produced in a way as to maximise the protection of the oyster larvae before they are established. Beyond this reef modules could provide protection for juvenile fish and a habitat for the threatened species of European Brown Kelp to develop. Over time the calcium carbonate would erode and leave only the established oyster reefs behind. A cradle to cradle proposal for one aspect of the many threats that are facing our nearshore waters.