LEARNING FROM NATURE WITH OBJECT COR

Over this past year our attachment to public spaces, shared environments and nature itself has been forced to shift. ND has been reflecting on the changes which we have observed and wanted to catch up with a collection of designers which all share an affinity to or harness the powers of nature. 

Our questions were answered by Class of ND19 alumni and OYI21 exhibitor, Florence, as we delved into her mind to discover how this designer explores the sensory inputs we get from spending time within our natural worlds. Carry on reading to discover the passion this design holds for nature and how this translates into her practice to create momentary opportunities to re-connect and as a result encourages mindfulness.

Can you tell us where did your attachment to nature begin and how has this influenced your design practice?

I suppose nostalgia plays a large part in my love of nature, growing up in rural England, my fondest and most vivid memories are all of time spent outside. Fast forward to now and you’ll find me in Sheffield, a city a stone’s throw away from the Peak district. This wild and rugged landscape is endlessly dynamic, and it inspires me every time I escape to it. The direct connection between my love of nature and my practice stemmed from my research into our sense of touch. Investigating the connection between craft practice, tacit knowledge and emotion resulted in a desire to better understand how touch impacts on our lives. Discovering the connection between touch and emotion, more specifically empathy, I combined this with my love of nature and subsequently my concerns regarding the climate crisis. This led to me where I am today and the ethos Object Cor Ltd is rooted within.

Have you re-connected to outside spaces or developed a new relationship to public spaces from a year of living in a pandemic?

I wouldn’t say my connection has changed as such, but I have definitely noticed how it has changed for many people. The parks in Sheffield and the peaks have been much busier. At times it has been a little overwhelming just how busy! I think it is great though and I’m glad to see people out and enjoying the benefits of spending time in nature. What I am really interested in is if the increase will be sustained, and if so how will that impact on the future?

Do you feel a responsibility to preserve the natural and botanical life that surrounds us and if so, how do you do this?

The first part of this question is easy, absolutely! I think we all have this responsibility. The second half is more complex. Through my work I try to keep a focus on how and why nature influences my practice. My products aim to bring an element of nature into people’s everyday through texture and touch and in doing so I hope to encourage mindfulness. On a more personal level, I’m trying to reduce my individual impact on the environment through as many different methods as I can. I think this will be a lifelong learning and adapting mission as I try to find some balance.

Do you think design influences nature or does nature influence design?

Oh both ways definitely! It is common practice for designs to draw inspiration from nature and on every scale, from the lattice of a flies wing to weather patterns.

I think inspiration can be found everywhere within nature; observing it, studying it and learning from it. This provides endlessly influence for design.

Thinking about it from a material perspective, it is the basis of Design. Without nature, would design exist? Design has definitely influenced nature too; however I think this way round things get more experimental perhaps? We have less control and predicting the outcome is complex. Looking backwards a lot of design has been terribly damaging to our natural environment, on a global scale nature can appear to move much slower than us which makes observing our influence on it more complicated. What is important now is that we have a much better understanding and awareness of the impact we are capable of having.

Tell us, what are your predictions for our public spaces and the relationships we have built with them during these times of uncertainty. Do you think they will continue to hold a significant part in our lives when normality arrives or will they become of a forgotten era? 

It’s hard to predict – I can’t deny I’m not excited about being able to visit a pub or restaurant again! My hope is that for the people that have connected with public spaces during lockdown, this connection continues and that as a result more people feel compelled to protect or even expand these spaces. Rewilding parks for example, this is something Cristina Monteiro’s work is exploring. Lockdown has taught me so much, how amazing people are at adapting, the importance of picking up the phone or sending a message and how much I really do love a good hug!

Can you share any projects which you have been working on recently? Give us a glimpse into Object Cor’s future. 

At New Designers 2019 I was showcasing my tactile capacitive light switches. These were working prototypes but needed considerable further development before being ready for production. I have been working with the support of the Sheffield Innovation Project to develop the electronics and the design to a marketable standard. We are really close now and I hope to be launching them soon. I have a number of trade shows coming up, including Design London which I am keeping my fingers crossed will go ahead this Autumn. Come find me!

Who or what is your biggest influence and why?

This is a hard one! I am influenced by so much. I feel I am forever influenced by exquisite craftsmanship and observing people practising their craft. At this moment however, I am really interested in makers who are thoroughly rooted within their practice but also invested in changing perspectives. Especially in regards to how as makers we can become in tune with our environment, Sebastian Cox’s work for example. Away from the world of craft, I think my family and friends are my biggest influence, this has only become more apparent over the past year and the realisation of how valuable time spent with them really is.

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on the effects these changes which have formed within society. We have been fascinated  have been considering what impact this has had on designers who harness nature has their biggest influence. 

We caught up with jewellery designer and Class of ND19 alumni, Florence to find some answers to our questions. The  

In 2019 she founded her company, Object Cor ltd, inspired by nature and motivated by tactility. In 2020, Florence intrigued our selection panel and was chosen to be a OYI exhibitor as they were fascinated with this designer’s passion to capture the mundane interactions of the everyday and create a collection which is influenced by the sensory inputs which arise from spending time within nature. 

within the nostalgic elements of the outside world, creating a collection which holds the joys and brings a mindful presence to designing with the tactility of nature in mind. 

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