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.

Where better to find our answers from than ND20 Thrown Contemporary Ceramics Award Winner, Nadire Goken, who’s practice is motivated by the material traces that appear in our man-made material environment. 

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

For as long as I can remember I have loved being outdoors. As a child our summer holidays consisted of camping around England and France, and as I’ve grown up I have continued to love being surrounded by nature.

Nature first began influencing my artwork when studying Art and Design at A- Level. My A2 project focused on the similarities between the silhouette and structure of trees and the veins and bones of the human body. I then explored the structural formation and textural qualities of fungi growing from trees and during my foundation year at Leeds College of Art I was inspired by the material transformations and processes that accompany the weathering and decay of man-made objects, found specifically at my mums’ allotment and this exploration of textures and processes within nature continued to be prevalent in my practice during university. Often initiated through a specific place my work developed from being inspired by images taken of nature in these spaces to physically utilising natures processes. I am particularly drawn to natures ability to decorate and mark the surfaces of buildings and objects and am particularly inspired by natures qualities of transforming materials.

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

I think yes, I have re-connected with outside space, but that’s not to say that I was ever totally disconnected. I think a big part of this year has been just having more time and reasons to be outside. When the pandemic began, I was finishing my final year at University in Manchester, and from March through to June I would have, pre-pandemic, spent these months in the studio and workshops pretty much non-stop. Without access to the workshops and switching to predominantly laptop-based working, I could now easily work chasing the sunshine from my back garden to my front doorstep. I wouldn’t say my perceptions have changed because I have always valued this outdoor space, but I think if anything it has just heightened my desire to work outdoors or live somewhere where having an outdoor studio is feasible.

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

With regards to preserving nature through my artistic practise, I don’t know if I think of it as a responsibility or more just a desire. I think a lot of people find the effects of weathering and decay beautiful, but I also think a lot of people don’t… And with regards to the work I make, its created as a token to the beauty of these things and drawing attention to them in these composed forms.

In terms of the preservation of nature against its destruction, I do feel a responsibility not only to the sustainability of my actions as an artist and in daily life, but also a responsibility to allow nature to flourish within the city. Whether this be inside the home or with the small outdoor space that I now have access to, I have a desire to regreen my gravelled surroundings.

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

I think nature influences design, mostly because it was here first…

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?

I think there has always been an importance for outdoor public space, and although heightened by the pandemic, I think it will continue to be valuable to people as life changes after this year. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of outdoor space for people’s mental health and also the inequalities faced by those in the city with no access to private gardens. I hope if anything that people’s reliance on these spaces throughout this year creates a prioritisation in councils and funding for their development and maintenance in the future.

I have learnt that if plans change not to be disheartened and it’s probably because something great is just around the corner…

Can you share any projects which you have been working on recently? Give us a glimpse into your future. 

I currently have a collection of work on show at Bevere Gallery in Worcester as part of their annual Ceramic Graduate show. Due to open to the public for 3 weeks as soon as restrictions allow, this will be the first time any of my Rust Print works which won me the Thrown Contemporary Ceramics Award last year, will have been exhibited in person (which is very exciting). I am also working on another collection of Rust Print for an upcoming exhibition at Omved Gardens with Thrown Gallery. The exhibition entitled Growth, focuses on celebrating the unseen within ourselves and nature, a fitting title for me to explore my process and present my pieces. The exhibition space is an incredible greenhouse with surrounding gardens and to me it is the perfect venue to transition back from the only social activity of being outdoors in nature into a gallery environment. It’s also an incredibly beautiful space to present my collection in and I’m particularly excited for my Rust pieces to exist in a space that is so close to nature.

Who or what is your biggest influence and why?

I’d say my biggest influences are my surroundings. Its first-hand research through observations of material traces and found objects, created, or marked by processes of decay and time that inspire me most. In a time before covid when visiting exhibitions was a lot more regular, I often found myself taking more images of the walls and floors of exhibition spaces than of the artworks themselves.


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.