We were lucky enough to visit the Goldsmiths Centre recently as Andrew Fleming, winner of the New Designers Goldsmiths’ Company Silversmithing Award, as he undertook his work placement within the studio’s. Andrew spoke to us and gave and insight into his practice and how his placement has helped him on his creative career path. 

How did you become interested in design?

I have always been interested in design. From being a young kid, I used to love Lego and arts and crafts, and was constantly making and drawing. During secondary school, I focused more on structural design with a desire to become an architect. I pursued that and applied to study Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art. After studying for three years I decided that I didn’t want to become an architect but wanted to continue to study so decided to transfer course to silversmithing and jewellery.

Where did you study and what was the most useful thing you learnt from / best things about your course?

I studied Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art for three years and then studied silversmithing and Jewellery Design for three years. The most valuable things I learned studying architecture was a thorough understanding my design process. The intensity of the course also gave me a great work ethic. These were invaluable skills once I transferred to Silversmithing and Jewellery. The technical aspect of my silversmithing course were fantastic, and my ability increased ten-fold year on year. This along with my previous skills learned whist studying architecture gave me a lot of confidence in designing and making my graduate collection.

How do you think your internship/ placement will contribute to your career pathway?

The time I spent with Clive Burr has been invaluable. We covered many areas in the making process, including plating, spinning, scoring and folding, machine turning and puk welding. Spending time in the workshop, I learned the importance of really breaking down the making process and considering each step carefully before committing. From preparing your metal correctly before soldering to cleaning up metal. These tips will help me greatly every day in the studio.
It was fantastic to be in a working studio and to see some of the projects Clive and his team have been working on. It opened up so many possibilities in what can be made from silver and what techniques can be used to achieve this.

What inspired you to start your career pathway?

I have always been interested in making, and during my advanced higher art course in secondary school, I focused on jewellery design and really enjoyed the process of making. When I finally studied silversmithing and Jewellery I realised that I preferred working at a larger scale which was why I was drawn to silversmithing.

Give us an insight into your thought process to design your work – where does your inspiration come from? Who are your design mentors and why?

I am inspired by many things, but mostly the built environment. I use photography from my travels along with sketches but I am also very inspired by the city I live in, Glasgow. It has such a rich culture of building and industry and although some of those no longer exist, they have left their mark on the city. In my research I like to break down these images and look at individual elements of buildings or take a very small detail of a building and manipulate that in an interesting way. My graduate collection really focused on taking those simple elements and constructing silverware from those simple forms. In my steel work I was consciously using that material as it has such a rich history in Glasgow. My aim was to take this very raw material and create something much more sculptural and decorative, to make vessels and accessories that would look great in a modern interior. Using platinum and gold leaf allowed me to elevate this material.

I am inspired by designers from Architects such as Daniel Libeskind, Le Corbusier, product designers such as Dieter Rams and in silversmithing, Mary Ann Simmons. I love that all these designers do incredible things with very simple forms, focusing on necessity whilst having a fantastic and unique approach to aesthetics.

What one technique, material or tool could you not live without?

In his past year, I have done more scoring and folding than I’d like to admit, but it’s a technique that I’ve really enjoyed learning and with my love of straight lines, it’s been a great companion. In the next year or so I hope to continue this and develop my designs exploring the possibilities of this technique.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? / What piece of advice would you give to future graduates or those thinking of studying design?

Recently when I was working with Clive Burr, he focused on the importance of considering every step of the making process. I am now starting to question everything I do considering if it’s the absolute best way to achieve something. This has unquestionably made me a better maker.

Is there a particular social cause or need that you would like your design to respond to?

With my silverware, as much as I love to focus on aesthetics, I spend a lot of my time considering how my pieces will be used, especially in a contemporary environment. From considering how well my spouts should pour, to considering the weight and balance of a piece, I find that looking at these aspects as closely as its form and design help me create beautiful yet well-functioning pieces.

Website – www.andrewflemingsilversmith.com
Instagram – @afsilversmith
Facebook – @andrewflemingsilversmith

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