London Design Festival 2015: Jesmonite

Designers use the material in creative ways for coffee tables, mountain sculptures and even jewelry boxes

One of the most exciting things about big design events like London Design Festival is the opportunity to see which materials designers use to make their dream creations come alive. Typically, there’s at least a few unusual materials and interesting combinations that grab the viewer’s attention. This year at London Design Festival, it was the creative use of jesmonite—a water-based acrylic composite—that stood out. Three different designers show how versatile the material can be.

Pinch: “Nim”

South London-based design studio Pinch (run by husband and wife team Russell Pinch and Oona Bannon) launched its new design “Nim” at LDF 2015. Made from jesmonite, the large table has a solid look, despite actually being hollow. The designers added mica to its base, and an artist who usually does special effects for films painted the outside of the table, creating Nim’s organic look. “We wanted something that felt natural,” Bannon tells CH. “Pinch is usually about paring back, but with Nim, we’re exploring solidity and wanted to do something quite sculptural.”

Nim is made in a coffee table height, which Pinch says is often requested, as a lot of people eat at their coffee tables now. The decorative texture and patina makes it look a little like an old stone sculpture from an English garden, but there’s no doubt that this is a contemporary piece. Due to the lifespan of the mold used to create it, Nim will only by made in a run of 50, but Pinch revealed that there is a possibility that they will also make Nim in a metal version in the future.

Hilda Hellström: “The Erosional Remnant”

The Ace Hotel was once again the hub for Shoreditch Design Triangle, and the creative hotel chain took advantage of the occasion to work with interesting emerging artists, chosen by the Modern Design Review. For its restaurant, Hoi Polloi, Ace teamed up with Swedish artist and RCA graduate Hilda Hellström. As her sculpture would replace the temporary flower displays that normally greet customers in the restaurant, it had to represent nature in some way, a task that suited Hellström well. “My work is very inspired by nature,” she says.

Her mountain-shaped piece for LDF, called “The Erosional Remnant,” references geology but also has a cartoonish vibe, with its pastel ice-cream hues. Hellström has worked with jesmonite since 2011 and created her LDF sculpture by molding the material with the colors in the mold, and then used a CNC machine to sculpt it, which created the triangle pattern. “I like the relationship between craft and hi tech,” Hellström concludes.

Ariane Prin: “Rust”

Rust is the first homeware collection from French-born, London-based product designer Ariane Prin. Prin is inspired by waste, which she considers a raw material. “We throw away so much stuff—for me, these are discarded treasures. I’m not saying that the pieces I make won’t end up in the bin one day, but if my products can inspire people to reconsider their approach towards waste, then that’s already one step forward,” she says.

Rust is the perfect example, as it’s made from jesmonite that has been mixed with metal powder from cut keys, which creates the unusual patterns and beautiful colors of the collection. Prin says once she focuses on a material, she’ll experiment as much as she can with it. ”That’s how I made my first samples for Rust. I was not searching for anything in particular, I was just playing, really.” The resulting products are available now via direct inquiry.

“The Erosional Remnant” image by Cajsa Carlson, all others courtesy of respective designers