When is a wooden table not a wooden table?
When it's a Marigold.
That's the designer Peter Marigold, and I was lucky enough to get an insight into his work as he spoke with us at Collect.
Marigold is a resourceful designer-maker, utilising the materials and ideas that come to him through his immediate environment. Often exploring wood in his designs he harvests the fallen branches from his neighbourhood of Hampstead Heath to use for timber. Having this local resource to hand has encouraged him to explore it's properties in many ways.
Not only does he use wood to make many of his designs, it is through experiments with this organic material that he also brings the qualities he discovers into other very different substances.
"Characteristically, these are not straightforward forms, but instead have been created using wood rather than being made of wood. They therefore reference wood as an active verb rather than a monumental noun; the resulting forms highly animated and not ‘wooden’ at all." Libby Sellers Gallery
By translating what he sees in the formation and degrading of wood into something very hard and processed like metal he is breathing life into a manufactured material.
Through playing with our expectations of what materials look and feel like, it makes us want to engage with these objects, question them, pick them up, touch and interact.
It is the natural wearing-out of the objects we use in our lives that gives him great pleasure. Every knock, scuff and dent that marks a surface is like a tree ring documenting their lifespan.
This also shows them to be of a greater quality, worth keeping even with their lived-in "damage" teaching us the patience to invest in an object and forming a bond with our environment.
At this year's Collect, Marigold was showing his cedar cabinets stained from the reaction with steel nails holding them together. Entitled "Bleed", the beautiful black streaks became the most prominent feature of these sturdy cabinets.
"Man builds things up, and then nature begins a slow steady process of taking them down again. A normal response to this effect might be despair like King Canute trying to hold back the sea, but I see beauty," said Marigold.
Rather than fighting nature in preventing this unpredictable marking, these displayed the reaction of the untreated metal with the tannin in the wood showing a truth to the materials.
I loved seeing his way the designer was letting go of the piece they had made, allowing nature to take it's course to create a unique, naturally beautiful object. It reminded me of the way mascara can run down a perfectly made-up face showing an overwhelming emotion, too much sadness to mask and hide or a joy too powerful to hold inside.
For more information of Peter Marigold's projects visit his site here.