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£3/ $5 where sold

The NorthernTool New Products added to the Tools for Everyday Life collection words: Rickard Whittingham photography: Mark Slater

This 4th issue of the Northern Tool reports in the main on the activities surrounding the Tools for Everyday Life project undertaken by the community of design practice that surrounds the 3D Design undergraduate programme and post graduate Designers in Residence scheme at Northumbria University. This newspaper’s distribution from stand/booth #2312 at the ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) in New York City marks the launch of new products generated by the project. The Tools for Everyday life project is an on-going initiative to investigate the role and relevancy of materials and processes knowledge in the design of functional products. The briefs set to the designers result in both commercially viable artefacts and opportunities for designers to articulate their positions on the creation of things in general and product design more specifically. The latest brief, the 3rd phase of the project (the scanned brief is printed on page 3), celebrates the fact designers and makers do not work in isolation but within networks of expertise. Whilst this latest brief looks specifically at the designers working with expert partners, it highlights again the supportive network that exists amongst the designers themselves. Indeed the project goes a long way to prove that the romantic image of the lone creative genius rattling off design classics unaided is a myth. Rather the design process is intrinsically collaborative. As a research project the intention of the ‘Tools for Everyday Life’ project is to not just examine how skilled manufacture can lead to beautiful things, it is to allow the designers a space to explore and reflect on ‘making’ as a commercially relevant process in the manufacture of functionally useful things. Hence the reference to ‘tools’ in the... >>>>>>>>>>>Page 2


3D Design and The Designers in Residence at Northumbria University

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Designers in Residence

>>> project title and the siting of the products at trade fairs along side established design-led brands rather than in isolated gallery environments. To date the project has been showcased at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City (USA), Design Nova in Beijing (China), The Dock with Tom Dixon and at the Design Junction during the London Design Festival (UK). The Northern Tool’s content. The tabloid format of the Northern Tool has been chosen and a casual tone adopted to give an accessible account of just what is involved in, and what is revealed by, engaging with this project. The newspaper is a valiant attempt to not post rationalize the choices made by the practitioners involved. It avoids claims of any scientific clarity in its findings but rather reflects that practice led research by ‘doing’ often raises more questions than it finds answers. This particular edition of the newspaper has details of the new products in the ‘Tools’ collection (shown on pages 4-7) and products from both 2011 and 2012. (Page 12-13). This issue also contains a piece about the role of the ‘tea break’ in establishing the tone for the Tools for Everyday life project. (Page 10) There is an insightful piece of semi-fiction from one of the designers that reveals much about the sometimes awkward relationship between the creator of an artefact and his/her potential customer (page 11). In this vain, Colin Wilson (one of the contributing designers) has interviewed the gallery owner Richard Hindle ( page 15) to understand his work as someone that sells art and products by ‘creative types’.

BA(hons) 3D Design at Northumbria The 3d Design undergraduate programme at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) is a 3 year full time education. The programme sits within the Design Department of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences. Its intention is to educate designers that go on to make directional contributions to the practice of product and furniture design. At the core of the programme is the philosophy that designers are better prepared to make meaningful impact within professional design practice with a contextually sensitive materials and processes knowledge. This awareness of making and manufacture in the design process places a designer at the center of debates about skill, technology and how these factors relate to the human experience. Graduates from the 3d programme include: Max Lamb, Deadgood and David Irwin.



The Designers in Residence scheme is a post-graduate initiative designed to support Northumbria alumnae wishing to develop their own professional design practice. It is run within Northumbria University’s faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences for BA (Hons) Three Dimensional Design graduates with its professional practice centered around the activities of furniture and product design. The signature of the scheme is its particular engagement with the design of products that celebrate the value of traditional craft manufacturing and are contemporary, rich in narrative and market ready. “In short we want are our designers to be able to make and sell great ‘British’ ideas” Trevor Duncan, Head of Design at Northumbria University. Residents are given enterprise start-up support to encourage them to view their practice not simply as a creative activity but also as a commercial enterprise capable of generating income and employment for themselves and others. British design education is often bemoaned by the creative industries for failing to properly equip graduates for the ins and outs of the business of design; whilst at the same time it has become a truism of British industry that it innovates but does not make and sell. Northumbria University’s Designer in Residence scheme was developed with a view to addressing both of these issues. The success of the scheme over the last 13 years is easy to measure, one looks to the many businesses/ careers/ jobs created. The international reputation of the scheme has grown by showcasing products at the most prestigious trade fairs around the globe. Equally noteworthy, but more complex to quantify is the community of design practice that has sprung up around the scheme. Designers that are learning the business of design by ‘doing it’ stay connected to each other, to Northumbria University and the North East of England. Current residents are: Tatsuya Akita and Danny Duquemin-Sheil. Past Residents include: John Reeves, Neil Conley and James Harrison. 01. Max Lamb digs up a pewter stool from a beach. 02. James Harrison- Wingback 03. David Irwin- M-lamp.




New products 2013


words: Rickard Whittingham research: Philip Luscombe, Trevor Duncan and Colin Wilson photography: Danny Duquemin-Sheil

The following three pages show products developed by designers collaborating with highly skilled manufacturing specialists.

by the designers on this project, talks eloquently of the designer’s (in)ability to communicate his intentions* and the inherent value of the skilled workman’s discretion.

Working alongside people with craft skills honed by years of practice, be they machinists, upholsterers, platers or cabinet makers, requires of the designer a sensitivity to the particularities of how these trades work. For as much as the products shown here very obviously highlight the skills of those involved in physically producing them, they also act as testament to the designers’ ability to work with a diverse range of people.

Looking at the processes involved in the products developed for this phase of the Tools for Everyday Life project, it is clear the wider the gap in terms of knowledge and experience between designer and partner the more detail needs to be articulated in order to get ‘things’ done. These observations chime with what Albert Borgmann, Professor of Philosophy at Montana University describes as the inversely proportional relationship between skill and resolution of information**.

‘Designer types’ blundering in to long established systems of trust and recommendation with their ‘fancy’ ideas will more often than not be confused by the sometimes less then enthusiastic response of a specialist to get involved in the fabrication of a speculative prototype that sits outside their day to day business. There are various barriers that have grown over time that can prevent art school trained industrial designers from freely entering and making use of these highly skilled services. One such obstacle is the common practice of the cost of engaging a specialist not really being discussed until after the process is complete, the assumption being that if a designer asks for something then they will have to pay ‘the going rate’. For the inexperienced this can be a real mystery/shock/surprise/ sharp learning curve and may also reveal that haggling is seen as the province of people who do not value the skills involved in the process. The conversation should more usefully revolve around timescales and is the job actually possible at all, rather than a debate about the specialist’s business model. Working with a highly skilled manufacturer does not eliminate the need for a designer to have an understanding of the processes involved, rather an understanding of the craft skills in question leads to valuable short hand modes of communication and informed exchange that allows for the nuances of difficult to describe options to be explored that otherwise might need many samples as well as massively complex drawings. The architect, industrial designer and craftsman David Pye, an author admired


It is learning what the technical and social barriers are to working with skilled manufacturers and over time navigating the defenses that exist in their trades that lead to connections that are prized and contacts which are protected by experienced designers. Passing on the contact details of specialists is only done once the experienced designer is sure the recipient of the introduction will appreciate the social and cultural etiquette involved and do nothing to sour the relationship. The experienced designer in effect acts as gate-keeper to another world (or in the case of this project, various parts of Birmingham). Whilst these reflections describe layers of difficulty to cut through in order to access the skills needed to get a new product developed, they also say something profound about the role of trust, the protection of knowledge and respect for those that have it.

*Pye, D. (1968) Chapter 5. ‘The designer’s power to communicate his intentions’ in The Nature and Art of Workmanship (revised edition 1995) pp. 56-57, London :Herbert Press. **Borgmann, A. (1999) Chapter 14. ‘Virtuality and Ambiguity’ in Holding on to Reality: the Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium, pp. 179192, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

New products

1 Bench & 1 Stool: Designed by Rickard Whittingham (Programme leader of 3D Design at Northumbria University) Materials: Beech/ Oak / Bute “Argyll” fabric 85% wool 15% nylon) Partner: David Dey of R.C Dey & Sons of Byermoor, Newcastle upon Tyne, (UK) The intentions of this project are three fold: 1. To functionally take cues from the multi-use carpeted 2nd step to the first floor of a home- a useful place to perch for phone calls, change shoes, sit when you have been naughty… 2. To explore the form of the traditional saw horse. The aim is to employ both the stance and construction that these utilitarian objects have. 3. To work closely with an upholsterer in the exploration of intentions 1 & 2, paying particular attention to stitch and quilting details.

Industrial lighting collection: Designed by Ellen Thomas (Former Designer in Residence) Materials: Aluminium, glass

The Irish Whittling Stool Designed by Colin Wilson (Senior Lecturer 3D Design at Northumbria University and designer at Wilson and Benn) Materials: Ash, Donegal tweed, brass fittings

Partner: Cliveland Spinning, Birmingham (UK)

Partner: Staples Woodcraft (UK) Fabric by Magee weaving (IE) Upholstery by Sarah Maria Evelyn Morehead (UK)

The collection takes inspiration from industrial task lighting, both in terms of form and their manufacturing processes. Making a playful visual reference to Newcastle upon Tyne’s industrial heritage, the lights utilise the function of a pressed glass lens (used in the railway industry) with the techniques of the metal spinner.

Inspired by simple honest country furniture, celebrating function and location through choice of native timbers, fabrics woven to enrapture essence of their surroundings, natural and unique. The ash is a key to healing the loneliness of the human spirit out of touch with its origins - it can provide a sense of being grounded and of belonging.

With over 50 years of experience, Cliveland Spinning are manufacturers of spun components with a specialism for high precision reflectors and all forms of lighting products.

Three of the Five great trees of Ireland were Ash: the Tree of Uisnech, the Tree of Tortu, and the Tree of Dathi.

Metal spinning is a metalworking process by which a disc or tube of metal is rotated at high speed and formed into an axially symmetric part. Spinning can be performed by hand or by a CNC lathe. In this instance it is done by hand with the partner’s skilled knowledge of the process essential, as the lenses are spun into the metal component.

The Five trees were located in each of the five provinces and symbolized the guardians who protected the sovereignty of the land. They were destroyed in 665 CE by the Celts themselves, rather than surrendered to the encroaching Christians.


New products

Bill Lamp Designed by David Irwin (former Designer in Residence)

Mill [Candle stick] Designed by Trevor Duncan (Head of Design at Northumbria University)

Submariner [table lamp] Designed by Neil Conley (former Designer in Residence)

Materials: Oak, UPM grada 1000 plywood

Materials: Chemically blackened, machined cast iron.

Materials Powder-coated, bead-rolled steel.

Partner: Triple S – Superior Solid Surfaces

Partner: A. Veevers Silversmiths, Vyse Street, Birmingham, England, UK.

Partner Oceana [global marine conservation] Washington, USA.

The Bill lamp is an LED task light which explores the use of a new type of plywood, UPM grada 1000, to produce the distinctively formed diffuser which takes its cue from the Bill of a birds beak.

The Mill candlestick draws inspiration from historic portable candle lamps and incorporates a place to hold a standard sized matchbox.

The primary Aim was to develop a table lamp with maritime influence, with 10% of all proceeds donated to the prevention of sea-bed trawling.

Machined from solid cast iron billet the design is purposely heavy to ensure stability, each candlestick is hand finished prior to chemically blackening the surface. A limited edition is finished in rose gold.

Taking direction from Oceana’s 2013 campaign for the protection of artisanal fishing industries, each Submariner lamp is hand-made, with a form and construction that takes reference from the materials and techniques used in traditional marine exploration. The balance of skilled craft and industrial process is intended to echo Oceana’s approach to responsible trawling.

The UPM Grada material is based on new technology which allows the wood panel to be formed with heat and pressure. Using these thermo forming techniques usually carried out in the production of solid surface components, the Grada material has allowed a shorter and more efficient production process since the form pressing starts with a ready-made and cut-to-size panel instead of a stack of veneers and liquid glue. Once the UPM Grada panel is heated up to 130 degrees, the thermoplastic foil between veneers softens and melts so that the panel can be formed into different shapes. The melted foil allows the veneers to slide. The hot panel is formed in a mould and cooled down to 80 degrees simultaneously. The head of the lamp will rotate 360 degrees and pivot with a range of 120 degrees emitting a warm white light via its superbright SMD LEDs.


New products

Fishing Handline Designed by Philip Luscombe (PhD candidate)

Toy Set Designed by Danny Duquemin-Sheil (Current Designer in Residence)

Daffodil Designed by Tatsuya Akita (currrent Designer in Residence)

Materials: European Black Walnut

Materials: Stainless steel and Bronze

Material: Aluminium / steel

Partner: Turners & Moore, Woodworkers, Norfolk (UK)

Partner: Tom Jones of M-Machine, Darlington (UK)

Partner: Bradford Laser Cutting Ltd, Bradford (UK)

Luscombe’s fishing handline is designed for pier and light boat fishing. The handlines are supplied with 65 feet of 3mm nylon as a mainline, on to which a lighter weight leader can be clipped. Black walnut has been specified due to its high rot resistance and workability. The handline has been developed for production with specialists in wood turning and CNC routing.

A re-interpretation of the traditional Spinning Top and Ball & Cup, hand turned from stainless steel and bronze. Despite originally being intended for children, they rekindle an intuitive joy in anyone who recognises their familiar forms. Inspired by the following quote from ‘Danny, the Champion of the World’ by Roald Dahl:

“Daffodils, that come before the swallow dares, and take The winds of March with beauty” (Winter’s Tale, act 4, sc. 4) - William Shakespeare

“...before I could walk, the workshop had been my playroom”. ”My toys were the greasy cogs and springs and pistons that lay around all over the place, and these, I can promise you, were far more fun to play with than most of the plastic stuff children are given these days”.

The reading lamp is inspired by a very welcome sign of Spring and designed to utilize an inexpensive manufacturing process. Laser cutting is commonly known as a process able to cut / etch most flat sheet material but can also cut tubular materials. The intention is to use the technology to create an efficient form for a reading lamp from a single tube. The tube is laser cut on a rotary axis laser cutter and then bent to form an impression of a Daffodil.

The top is best spun with two hands!




Products in the Making photography: Danny Duquemin-Sheil, Mark Slater (Nos. 1&9), Colin Wilson (No. 8)

No self respecting examination of the value of making in the design process would be complete without some attractive shallow depth of field photographs of products being manufactured. Glimpses of the skills, techniques, equipment and raw materials that make up the creation of a ‘thing’ are reassuring in an age of touch screen beguilement and unrepairable boxes of technology. The images here show the tools of various trades, materials, mock-ups and the latest ‘Tools for Everyday Life” in progress.

01. Upholstery in progress (RC Dey and Son) 02. Metal work (Northumbria University workshops) 03. Woodturning (Northumbria University workshops)










04. Bench and stool in progress (Northumbria University workshops)

06. David Irwin browsing native hard woods (Hexhamshire Hardwoods)

08. Irish Whittling stool in progress (at home with Wilson and Benn)

05. Colchester action (Northumbria University workshops)

07. Daffodils laser cut and bent (Northumbria University workshops)

09. John the metal spinner having a break (Birmingham)



The Tea Break words: Rickard Whittingham photography : Danny Duquemin-Sheil

There is a danger in reporting on aspects of a shared project (or in this case a shared break in practical activity) that the tales told are only of interest to those there at the time. So running the risk of reminiscing/ romancing / post rationalising the chit chat that takes place in the studio of the Designers in Residence at Northumbria University, the intention here is report on some of the often accidently profound moments that emerge over “a brew” in a design studio. More specifically the aim is to show how the topics of conversation at these times have helped to shape the Tools for Everyday Life project. For while a cleaned up, bullet-pointed version of events or a reliance on photographs of things being made and completed might neaten up the story of the design and curatorial processes involved in running a project such as this, it wouldn’t be altogether accurate. The tea-breaks that interrupt the design and make continuum, reflect more accurately the rather more messy reality of a project, where designers often instinctively make use of their skills and experiences (not always confidently), talk about it (not always freely) to create something with which they are happy (but not always). Wide ranging topics of salesmanship, technology, egg washing in the United States and sketching more often than not merge to a point where meaningful conclusions are impossible. These discussions, however, have had a profound effect on the content of the project and the spirit in which it is carried out. One could go as far as to say that this whole project is fuelled by the interest in the issues talked about at approximately 10am and 3pm. The following selected subjects have been summarized. In some cases they are the basis for further ‘features’ in this Newspaper and in others they merit no more than a quick mention. Food... The nostalgic tone of conversations about favourite childhood biscuits (cookies) leads to observations of the power of branding and the links between memory and taste. The corporate takeovers and ownership of the beloved heritage brands (McVities) by likes of United Biscuits and Nabisco, are glossed over for fear of spoiling the enjoyment of the wheat based snacks that are part and parcel of a break. In the Designers in Residence hub the plain and reassuringly unchanged Digestive is currently the biscuit of choice.


Designers/makers selling things at trade fairs… The subject of shy retiring types interested in making the stuff but not that bothered in explaining it or indeed sometimes, rather strangely, selling it, rears it’s head as a topic part in jest but maybe also because the designing and making process is sometimes an enjoyable end in itself. Tactics for how designers can avoid eye contact and brush off casual as opposed to real interest in their work, have been discussed frequently since the beginning of the Tools for Everyday Life adventure. This topic of conversation has led to the semi fictional ‘piece’ by Philip Luscombe on page 11. It reveals much about the dilemmas designers/makers find themselves in when showing/ selling their work in public. Domestic 3d printing… The Tools for Everyday life project’s aim of celebrating the designing and making process is currently framed by much talk of the potential of 3d printing and how these technologies can compress the distance between an idea for a product and its manufacture. As Sam Jacob the architectural director of FAT notes in a recent ‘column’ for the design blog Dezeen, “The overarching narrative surrounding 3D printing presents it as a liberating technology. It argues that the technology will free us from organised, centralised production of the industrial era.” Over tea and sweet baked goods in the designers in residence studio too there is a healthy skeptisim of a three dimenionally printed future. For while the designers connected with the Tools for Everyday Life project commonly use digital technologies and rapid prototyping as part of their practice (as well as embracing innovations around e-commerce and opportunities presented by funding platforms such as Kickstarter), these innovations and developments are viewed as supplements to the knowledge and understanding bound up in making things. Their suspicion of 3d printed future is not fuelled by either a wish to take a

nostalgic retreat to ‘simpler’ pre-industrial times or celebrate the aesthetics of mid 20th century modernism, rather it is driven by concern that a blind faith in exciting technological developments can separate skilled manufacture from both the idea for a product and its ultimate enjoyment/use. Just as the internet, the communication it enables and the access to information it brings, has not freed the world from the trappings of corporate driven consumerisim it’s unlikely that 3d printing technology in itself will right the wrongs of material culture. Comfort was taken by those drinking milky tea in the arguments of Jacob and his assertion that rather than look to a 3d printed liberation from the ills of contemporary culture ”… it is [more useful] to recognize… [as Morris and Ruskin did]… that objects are not simply form but intrinsically politicised artifacts. And so are the technologies we use to produce them”. This potentially complex multilayered debate that deals with projected futures of people printing out their own goods and the reduction of skilled manufacture to the tap of a print icon was dealt most efficiently by one of the designers with this profound comment: “I’ve got a printer at home but I still buy Christmas Cards”. Debate over. It will probably never catch on. Nonsense: Given the checkered past of several of the designers involved in the project (and one in particular) conversation often drifts toward what life was like working at sea where chance encounters with large fleshy fish and the smuggling of precious stones do colour your world view.


Maker goes to market words: Philip Luscombe photography: Rickard Whittingham

The results of my craft are unique, one-of-a-kind, and therein lies their value. Are you sensitive to such variance? Roll up, roll up’...

Ian was struggling to rewire the lamp when he first spotted the couple, steadily moving from one exhibit to the next, working their way towards him. They spent ten seconds looking at the fruit bowl, ten seconds on the stool, ten seconds on the vessel… ten seconds on the next thing. Carefully allocated, regular spans of contemplation. How could they be equally interested in each object on display? Or take the same amount of time to understand the intricacies of each? To Ian, it always gave them away, that feigned interest, the apparent understanding of everything: casual customers. The cable of Ian’s light had been pulled from its switch. Whilst this was most likely the result of clumsy unfamiliarity with the touch-sensitive mechanism, rather than a malicious attack, he still wasn’t happy about it. Within just two hours of first being exposed to the public, one of his creations was already broken. These people could not be trusted. Ian glanced up to see the couple getting closer, exactly 30 seconds away if they maintained their pace. The wiring was going to take longer than that to fix. He braced himself, fumbled with the switch housing, swore under his breath. And then they arrived. ‘Hi there,’ the couple said. ‘Hi.’ replied Ian, still concentrating on his screwdriver. ‘Are these your pieces?’ She asked. ‘Yeah.’ ‘They’re beautiful, really great.’ … ‘Are you sure’, thought Ian, ‘don’t you want to give it ten seconds, just to be certain?’… ‘Oh, thanks very much,’ said Ian. ‘Is it plastic?’ The gentleman asked, touching the surface of Ian’s largest lamp. ‘No, it’s blown glass,’ Ian replied, finally looking up towards them. ‘Oh cool, so you’re a glass blower. I saw some videos of that a couple of weeks ago on the internet, really cool stuff.’ the man enthused. ‘Well, you’re stood in front of a furnace all day, so it’s not that cool.’ ‘Ha ha ha’ ‘Ha ha ha’ … ‘“not that cool”? What? Am I a salesman now?’… ‘I love how different they are,’ She said, ‘so unusual.’ ‘Thanks…’ Ian responded, ‘every one’s different, unique… because of the way they’re blown.’ … ‘Yep, I’m a salesman. And my story’s the same as all the others, the same as all those blurry videos he’s been watching, the story we’ve been sticking to for years. The results of my craft are unique, one-of-a-kind, and therein lies their value. Are you sensitive to such variance? Roll up, roll up’...

‘I see.’ She said, turning briefly to smile at her husband before looking back and pointing to ask, ‘How much is it for this one?’ … ‘Here we go… We all know my mode of production has been superseded, improved upon; many finer things will cost a fraction of what I’m asking. I mean, the switch on this lamp can only withstand two hours of actual use, but these objects are the result of honed skill and personal expression, not market demographics and product testing; what do you expect? Each lamp here takes me six hours to make. Actually, it’s six hours and twenty years of practice. And have you any idea how much it costs to heat a furnace all day? Okay, so it’s because I like blowing glass that I’m good at it. And maybe it’s asking too much to be paid for the pleasure, but can you really begrudge me enjoying what I do? Shouldn’t this be a model of human work, not an exception to the rule?’… ‘It’s two thousand for each lamp.’ said Ian, with a wellrehearsed confidence. The lady’s expression froze, ‘And,’ with a big, slow nod, her face unchanging, locked and straining not to reveal a hint of the surprise, the disappointment … I mean, it’s a lovely lamp and no doubt it takes a lot of skill to bend glass like that; I know I wouldn’t have the patience. But that’s a lot of money, it takes me three weeks to earn that much and that lamp hasn’t taken him three whole weeks, surely. I know it would look great in the living room, like something out of the magazines, but how can it be so expensive? Glass can’t cost that much, I recycle it every week, they can melt it down, make new stuff out of it, it must be virtually free. I don’t mind paying for a one-off, I love the things at these shows, but that’s a holiday, a year of dining out, Christmas… ‘And,’ with a big, slow nod, her face unchanging, ‘how much for the smaller ones?’ Further Reading: Gowlland, G. (2009) ‘Learning to See Value: Exchange and the Politics of Vision in a Chinese Craft’, Ethnos, 74:2, pp. 229–250 Dilley, R. (2004) ‘The Visibility and Invisibility of Production Among Senegalese Craftsmen’, Journal of The Royal Anthropological Institute, 10(4), pp. 797–813 Terrio, S.J. (1996) ‘Crafting Grand Cru Chocolates in Contemporary France’, American Anthropologist, 98(1), pp. 67-79.


Tools for Everyday Life 2011-2012

Products already in the collection The Tools for Everyday life project has a number of products in its collection. United by the designers’ exploration of a utilitarian aesthetic and finding a delight in things that do something useful. The following extract from the first brief explains the ‘tool’ reference.


“Whilst the definition of a tool can just as easily refer to an object of complexity/ simplicity/ new or old

technology, there is elegance to certain functional tools that connect users with a task. This connection might achieve further reverence by requiring the skill acquired by many hours of craft practice. Or the bond between operative and result is made ‘sweet’ because the tool takes all the pain out of a task. Either way tools that transcend being a means to an end and are an end in themselves are one of life’s joys”







01. Knobs- Philip Luscombe Brass, wood, steel

03. Pencil Works- Trevor Duncan Cedar, brass and various attachements

05. Batchstick- Neil Conley wood, steel, wax

02. Magnifying task lamp - Danny Duquemin-Sheil Brass, LED.

04. Cellotape Dispenser- Tatsuya Akita Concrete, copper and steel

06. Desktop Empires- Colin Wilson Blackened Steel and Brass 07. Northern Tool Box- Rickard Whittingham Black dyed Ash


Tools for Everyday Life 2011-2012










08. CC041 Jugs- Trevor Duncan Sterling Silver

11. One Ton Bag- Danny Duquemin-Sheil Reclaimed builders sacks

14. Swann Morton Modelling Tools- David Irwin Walnut, brass and blades

09. Tradesmans Wedges- Colin Wilson Brass/ phospher bronze

12. Promotional Beer Mat- Neil Conley Ink and card

15. Fossil- Neil Conley Amberised glass

10. Rivet Lights- David Irwin prototype in Corian and Copper

13. Chronova- Tatsuya Akita Glass, steel, salt and pepper

16. Downlighter- Ellen Thomas Glass, steel and walnut



‘Tools’ part of a trade mission to China Creative week


words: Rickard Whittingham

The Designers in Residence and academic staff from the Design Department of Northumbria University were invited to take part in a BEDG (British European Trade Group) led trade mission to China in November 2012. Following visits to manufacturers and ‘creativity parks’ in Qingdao, senior lecturer Colin Wilson and Designer in Residence Danny Duquemin-Sheil presented the Tools for Everyday Life project during China Creative design week at the Design Nova exhibition and Fair in Beijing. The main focus of the 2012 China Creative Design Week held in Qingdao and Beijing was to examine definitions of green design and sustainable development for a developing consumer culture. The Tools project was presented as a case study that addresses issues of longevity and a place for the celebration of quality production in the ‘eco’ debate. Colin and Danny were two of thirty international speakers from leading American, European, Asian and Chinese design organisations, associations and companies addressing a select audience of more than 500 professional delegates at the high profile Forums in Qingdao and Beijing. The following piece from Designers in Residence and Tools for Everyday Life coordinator, Rickard Whittingham, appeared in the BEDG published catalogue. TITLE: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” From Hopes and Fears for Art. William Morris The design profession was borne of an industrialised world where the ideas and plans for a product were separated from the modes of its manufacture. Indeed, ‘Design’ as enthusiastic young servant to and a stoker of insatiable demand for goods and services produced on an almost unimaginable scale is partly to blame for the environmental problems the world faces today and the predicted catastrophes in the future. In the face of global warming and a harmful loss of biodiversity from what are now clearly unsustainable methods of manufacture and consumption, logic demands that ‘Design’ grows up and moves from pleasing the status quo with ever more products and services to taking the lead in integrating technological advances with an awareness of ecology. However, on a planet with many conflicting interests and massive disparities in standards of living, the biggest challenge is creating a political and social will for real change across the globe. A daunting task Against this backdrop, defining let alone measuring meaningful environmentally sustainable design prac-


tice is complex if at all possible. Both purely techno centric and eco centric approaches to working out how best to meet the wants and needs of the world whilst not doing irreparable damage have their limits. The former tends to ignore the complexity of the interrelated nature of the world we inhabit while the latter disregards the potential of manmade solutions. Whilst there is a clear need for practical and economically viable solutions/alternatives to be employed on an epic scale to deal with issues related to fossil fuel use, realistically there needs also to be a change in patterns of consumption and attitudes amongst affluent nations to the props/products and patterns of daily life.

“By creating functional objects that are cherished rather than seasonally replaced, the human relationship with the material world is explored.” The ‘Tools for Everyday Life’ project at Northumbria University is an investigation of the interactions between product concept, manufacture and end user. Whilst the project doesn’t directly set out to tackle issues of sustainable design and in some ways aims to transcend the temporary feel good factor offered by supposedly ‘green’/’eco’/’environmentally friendly’ products, the intention is to look at the connections with the ‘stuff‘ that surrounds us. By creating functional objects that are cherished rather than seasonally replaced, the human relationship with the material world is explored. The products in the ‘Tools for Everyday Life’ collection exist as a celebration of a designer’s appreciation of the things people do everyday and the meaningful value of the thoughtful craft of manufacture. In many ways William Morris has been here before.

‘ The Tools for Everyday Life’ project was displayed at The Design Junction in September from 19th until 23rd September 2012. This year’s event took place at The Sorting Office, 21-31 New Oxford Street, London during the London Design Festival. The Tools for Everyday Life project saw the launch of the Submariner by Neil Conley and provided the occasion for the UK debut for the additions to the collection first seen at the ICFF in May 2012. Many positive leads were forged with manufacturers and retailers and pieces sold to some of the 17000 visitors that passed through the doors of the Design Junction. The Sorting Office provided 120000sq/ft of exhibition space over three floors, massive ceiling heights, wrapa-round windows in a brutal 1960s industrial aesthetic. The biggest venue you can hire in central London was a fitting backdrop to showcase the growing collection of products in the Tools for EverydayLife collection.


Richard Hindle: Gallerina – Contemporary Fine Art Gallery interview: Colin Wilson

is to make art affordable and accessible to all, and to demystify the world of ‘Contemporary Fine Art’.

4/ How would you describe the space you have created?

2/ In the world of fine objects, do you feel that people find it awkward to ask questions about price? Is there a stigma or barrier that exists around the objects?

The ‘attitude’ of the gallery space was designed, but designed to look like it hasn’t been designed. Its incredibly informal, the textures, the colour palate, the way it’s lit. The work in the gallery is hung in an informal way. We are not precious about the space. The feel of the place was considered before the look of it. It’s a place of work … but the informality is ultimately me, we didn’t want to package ourselves up to be something we’re not… hopefully it gives people a hug as they walk through the door. It was designed as a reaction against whitewashed spaces with timber floors , no music and a sparse collection of work. We wanted to create an experience that we wished we’d found elsewhere. I feel more confident now it’s been proven to work.

One of the questions that gets asked the most is- how much is it?... but it’s not always what the customer actually means. I find what they really want is to hear is the story behind the thing they are looking at. I help them to enter into a conversation and give them the confidence and freedom to get to know what that story is. The price is part of this story but not all of it. Sometimes people are afraid or embarrassed, they won’t ask the right questions. This is why, perhaps, I talk an awful lot more than I should.

It is OK to just like something 3/ What would you say is the best bit about what you do? Since opening its doors in 1998, Gallerina, in Duke Street Darlington (UK), has tripled in size and is now spread across three Victorian townhouses with a total exhibition space of 2,500 sq. ft. Gallerina now houses probably the largest independent collection of contemporary fine art in the North of England. No effort is spared in showcasing the finest art from the freshest talents from home and abroad with artists often choosing to exhibit exclusively with the gallery outside the London area. It is this unrivalled enthusiasm, and commitment that sees the gallery now enjoying a collector base from around the world. Gallerina artists include Sir Peter Blake, Damien Hirst and Gary Crozier. 1/ Can you describe what it is you do? A prim and proper answer would be; I am a ‘Gallerist’. I suppose we [ Gallerina are a team of 3 peopleRichard, Helen and Gwen] are the curators of an access point- firstly access to an audience for the people who have created the work and secondly an entry point to a market for the work itself. Gallerina is a space that is as gentle and informative as it can be, a meeting point where people feel comfortable enough to be able to ask questions. The initial and continuing aim of Gallerina

There are lots of “best bits”, I love the idea of introducing someone to the idea of owning and living with original art work. I also love working with the authors of the work and meeting new people. I am far more excited about young careers than I am in mature already successful careers; it’s much more fun. The ‘journey’ is shared and we’re all as excited as one another about it. As part of this process I get to meet artists in their working environments and attempt to pass these insights on to the people looking to buy work, that’s a lovely part, the demystification of the product. 4/ Do you find it awkward dealing with creative people when it comes to putting a price on their work? Yes, I can count on one hand, in the fifteen years we have been there, in fact I can count on two fingers the people that have approached me who have had a price list. I am more than prepared to help and gently coach the idea of what a thing is worth, …why we think it’s worth what it’s worth. Its easy for young creative people with exceptional talent to be flattered and conversely to be taken advantage of. The management of the price point is critical, to them not the gallery or outlet, wherever the work is represented the retail price must remain the same, they can negotiate commission but the retail price stays the same.

5/ What type of object or thing works for you? The types of things I find emotive are the things that feel or make me think, people celebrating a material and celebrating what it’s capable of is what I love the most. As a ‘Gallerist’, I often find things can get too polished, too manufactured, I like there to be ‘gaps’ left. We’re living in a time when everybody seems so focussed on perfection- whether it’s the food we eat or the products we consume. I am less interested in the ‘perfect straight out of the mould safety in numbers’ approach to things. People are actually frightened by Art. A large part of my job is peeling people’s hands off an imaginary safety rail when they are confronted by work they might love but are unable to explain why. A lot of my time is taken up telling people that that’s OK just to like something, there doesn’t have to be a why, and the best thing is when they let go of the ‘safety rail’ and realise they don’t fall down, you can have the confidence just to like something.

Gallerina 37 Duke Street Darlington Co. Durham DL3 7RX England. Tel: 01325 363635 Monday- Saturday: 10am- 5.30pm Sunday: 12pm- 4pm


Product analysis

Reassuringly good... Beautifully simple... Well made, works well... We like this stuff. words and photography: Trevor Duncan

To know where something comes from allows us to love it. Understanding how an object is made and why it is made that way is, perhaps, more vital to life than ever before. Whilst knowing the etymology of everyday objects enables us to better engage with the language of material and manufacture, it more importantly allows us to better understand their real value and become more invested in them. Well-made things often are not cheap to buy but invariably deliver far higher levels of satisfaction through the act of their use. With such objects the notion of value transcends simple monetary concerns and becomes much more about our relationship with them as users. Our ownership and use of them makes us feel better, more content and ultimately we may become more responsible consumers. “There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper”. Ruskin’s observation made over a hundred years ago remains depressingly valid today. Where in the past technological advancement drove competition by increasing quality and efficiency, meaning the only problem facing manufacturers of quality goods was competition from goods of an even higher quality, now it is inferior ‘cheap’ goods that are the main problem. There seem to be increasingly fewer high quality products that remain undiminished by a proliferation of paler imitations. The downgrading of everyday functional items from commodities into consumer goods has led to products not built to last, but to be thrown away as soon as possible in order to make way for the latest ‘upgrade’ or ‘special offer’. Relatively few products on offer today will ever become prized possessions, or something with which we will have a ‘special’ relationship and use every day to help us to do something well. As an antidote we have indulged ourselves and assembled a carefully curated collection of new and vintage items, some of them familiar, others less so. Criteria for inclusion included: the products being built to last (and improve with age), the employment of low-impact production methods, manufacture using great skill according to traditional methods and above all these products are reliable and practical to use. These everyday classics, often made in the same way,


by the same people, for a long time will not date but will mellow and improve with age and use. Ultimately they serve to remind us of just how good a simple and honest approach to design can be. They are products where quality and utility are intrinsic.

“There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper”

Limes trading Jerry can Simply put, a Jerry can is a container for fuel or water. Its design Originated in Germany in the 1930s as a need for efficient fuel distribution systems became urgent – the Germans had thousands of Jerry cans stockpiled by 1939 in anticipation of war. As Germany moved through Europe and North Africa, so did their thousands of gasoline cans. These cans proved to be dependable and durable; soon, countries all over the world were adapting them to transport and store liquids, coining them “Jerry cans” because of their German origin. The original containers had three handles, which allowed easy handling by one or two people. The handle design also allows for two empty cans to be carried in each hand. The sides of the can were marked with cross-like indentations that strengthened the can while allowing the contents to expand, as did an air pocket under the handles when the can was filled correctly. Rather than a screw cap, the containers used a cam lever release mechanism with a short spout secured with a snap closure and an air-pipe to the air pocket, which enabled smooth pouring. The interior was also lined with an impervious plastic, first developed for steel beer barrels that would allow the can to be used for either water or gasoline. The can was welded, and had a gasket for a leak-proof mouth. By the 70s, the plastic Jerry hit the market. Steel Jerry cans weigh 4.5kg empty; a plastic Jerry can weighs 1.6kg, and is much cheaper to manufacture. While the military uses metal cans to this day, people all over the world now buy fuel or water for domestic use in plastic Jerry cans with many people in developing countries using them to transport and store their drinking water as a replacement to heavy clay pots and metal containers. Whilst many new container designs have emerged inspired by the original, nothing can top the strength and simplicity of the original rectangular X-marked Jerry can or usurp its classic status. Materials: pressed steel.

Reassuringly good

Bjørklund Cheese Slicer

Zena Rex Potato Peeler

Higo no kami Japanese Folding Pocket Knife.

The original cheese slicer invented by Thor Bjørklund in 1925. Bjørklund was a carpenter by profession. The design is based on the carpenter’s plane with a similar sharp blade being drawn draw across the cheese and was borne of the irritation of how difficult it is sometimes to cut cheese with a regular knife.

A classic amongst kitchen tools, the Rex peeler was originally developed in 1931 by Alfred Neweczerzal and has changed very little since then. The basic Rex has just six parts - a ‘U’ shaped aluminium frame holds a swivel blade of very sharp tempered blue steel, which is easily drawn across the surface of vegetables with minimum effort and waste, whilst a further looped steel blade enables even the least dexterous of users to efficiently remove the eyes from potatoes. “Swiss made”, in a small works in Zurich with just a dozen employees, the company remains in family control to this day.

On first observation this simple, yet versatile tool, offers the appearance of a coarse unrefined instrument, a trait not normally associated with the Japanese art of blade making, but its real value comes to light through use. The simplicity of fabrication and operation along with the shape and style of the blade are properties that make this knife distinct from others. These folding knives are by tradition used for woodcarving and whittling. The blade, similar in shape to those found in Samurai swords, has a characteristic gentle curve to a sharp tip that is ideal for marking out and detailing. Made from three layers of steel, the blades feature a hardened core made from Blue Paper Steel that forms the cutting edge which is surrounded by a layer of softer steel this makes the blade stronger and more durable.

This tool is still produced in the Norwegian town of Lillehammer, and has been for more than 80 years. The factory has produced more than 50 millions cheese slicers and in the early years, it took an hour and 50-60 working operations to make a slicer. The Bjørklund design has remained relatively unchanged and consisted of four pieces; blade with cutting edge, neck, spike and handle. Although a patented design the company has seen many copies enter the market but rather than enter costly courtroom battles the company chose to differentiate itself by producing products of higher quality at affordable prices – you only ever need to buy one cheese slicer in a lifetime. Cheese slicers are made in many countries all over the world, but the real Original comes from Bjørklund. It has become a classic symbol of Norwegian innovation, quality and design and the factory and cheese slicer have become a part of the history of the town and the country. Materials: beech handle / stainless steel.

Whilst the Rex peeler proved a huge commercial success for many years, with the company profiting from demand far outstripping supply until the late 1990s, a flood of low-grade imports and copies almost saw the company go out of business. Fortunately the third generation owners took steps to revitalise the brand through additional designs, such as the Star - a stainless steel version of the Rex, and a consistent approach to the packaging and marketing, which created a family of products and more sustainable company. In 1997, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the products international protection, the company launched a limited edition gold plated Rex with 6000 sold to avid collectors around the world. The Rex’s simple ergonomic design has secured its enduring status as a classic utilitarian product, with more than 60 million sold since its invention half a century ago. Affordable, well made, reliable and above all easy to use, the Rex peeler has a special place in kitchens around the world. In 2004 the Rex appeared on a 15c Swiss stamp in recognition of its’ design status and importance. Such recognition is rare for so mundane an object but in the Rex’s case it is wholly deserved. Materials: aluminium / steel

The history of the Higo no kami dates from around the mid 1800s, with the opening of trade with the west Japan embraced modern industrial technologies. Western style industrial mechanization ultimately led to the demise of the Samurai and in this new industrial era there would was little place for tradition, or the craft of the bladesmith. With the loss of their main patrons, a group of bladesmiths, who had settled around the city of Miki in Higo province realised that they needed to diversify in order to keep their specialist skilled trade alive. To this end they developed an inexpensive folding pocket - knife with a simple folded brass handle that bore the inscription Higo no kami (Lord of Higo). The simple straightforwardness of the riveted connexion, between blade and handle enables the owner to calibrate the action of cutting blade, which is achieved with a delicate tap of a hammer (a degree of caution is required by the more heavy handed). In spite of the latter half of 20th century seeing Japanese society grow further away from its traditional culture, the implementation knife control laws and the rise of the counterfeit substandard copies, the Higo no kami knife remains in production today and retains a dedicated following of users. Materials: steel / brass.


Beautifully simple

Acme whistles The Thunderer

Stanley tools PLA 32-100 tape rule

Dux Sharpeners Adjustable brass pencil sharpener

The Acme whistle company was established in Birmingham 140 years ago by Joseph Hudson and has developed and patented over 40 different whistle designs including the iconic Acme Thunderer.

The Stanley PLA 32-100 tape rule us a practical, compact pocket tape measure made of two pressed steel halves, which are nylon coated to provide many years of reliable service. Its diminutive stature means that it really can be carried in the pocket at all times for when a quick bit of measuring needs to be done – anything up to 10ft that is.

For real pencil aficionados the act of sharpening the point of a pencil starts with the use of a razor sharp blade, often a surgical scalpel, and finishes with fastidious light sanding with glass paper. For most others it starts and finishes with the humble pencil sharpener, but to think that all pencil sharpeners are created equal would be a great mistake.

A tape measure or measuring tape, put simply, is a flexible ruler that is normally capable of being rolled or coiled into a compact form when not in use. Measuring tapes designed for uses other than tailoring have a stiff ribbon of steel with dimensions or units of measurement printed on its top surface. This metal ribbon invariably has a slight curve to enable it to remain straight when deployed curved and is fitted with a floating tang on the end to aid measuring. The tang floats so that when measuring both internal and external dimensions the tape remains accurate. Many tapes now seem to incorporate complex lock and release controls to aid single-handed measuring? and some can measure up to 100ft. These added features, along with injection molded grips for added comfort, often make for pocket products that are difficult to fit in any reasonable pocket and in any case seem to offer little in the way of functional enhancement.

The German company Dux has specialized in the manufacture of high quality pencil sharpeners since 1908 and their range includes all types, from the smallest pocket device, to more complex desk models. The design of the original Dux brass sharpener was simple and efficient - just a knurl, a couple screws and a steel blade and is still produced today in exactly the same way.

Hudson a farm worker from Derbyshire moved to the city of Birmingham, like so many during the industrial revolution, trained as a toolmaker and converted the wash house at the side of his end of terrace “back to back” home in St Marks street into a workshop where he made many things to help increase his family’s income. Early products included snuff boxes, cork screws and whistles. The business was very small until in 1883 when the London Metropolitan Police advertised for an idea to replace the policeman’s rattle a cumbersome means of alert for the bobby on his “beat”. Hudson invented a novel whistle for the purpose - it could be held in the mouth, leaving the hands free giving a clear advantage over the rattle, it had a discordant easily recognizable note that could be heard over a mile away it was christened the Metropolitan. Building on this success, the Acme Thunderer whistle was developed a year later to replace the sticks and handkerchiefs football referees had used to that point for officiating matches. Hudson quickly realised that whilst his earlier design of the Metroplolitan whistle produced a sound that would carry, the new design would need to able to be heard by the players above the noise of both the game and the crowd. The solution was the famous ‘pea’ whistle, which when blown produced a fuller warbling sound, the brass body of the design also incorporates a pressed detail on the mouth piece which allows the whistle to be easily gripped by the teeth enabling running with it in the mouth. Still in use today, as the official referees whistle, the sound of the Acme Thunderer is synonymous with sporting events around the world. The Acme Thunderer has sold over 200 million units and is still produced in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter (UK) utilising the same craft skills in its production as when originally designed. Materials: brass.


The PLA steers away from adding features and instead relies on its robust material specification, high quality manufacture, smooth action and compact size to make it a must have pocket companion. It builds on over 150 years of Stanley Tools history and development – “measure twice cut once”. Materials: spring steel / steel.

The adjustable Dux sharpener was developed in the 1950s, is made from brass and has three different settings operated via a knurled wheel at one end. This adjustment provides three levels of sharpness: a blunt point for shading, a normal point for letter-writing, and an ultra-sharp point for fine, precise lines. “Decide if you are in the mood for a soft sketch, a quick scribbling down of a to-do list, or a tersely worded note (each have their own level of sharpness). Turn the knurl once to the right to make the tip of your pencil more or less sharp. Insert pencil into sharpener and turn clockwise, creating a neat little pile of pencil shavings on your desk. If a little bit of lead gets stuck in the tip of the sharpener, not to worry. Tap the sharpener on the edge of your desk to shake out the former pencil points.” The Dux adjustable sharpener needs very little care a simple wipe with a clean cloth occasionally and is stored it in a little leather case provided for safekeeping. Materials: brass / steel.

Well made - works well

Clipper Refillable lighter

PB Swiss Tools Rainbow Hex Key L-Wrench Set

Glencairn Whisky Glass

The Clipper refillable butane lighter was design by Enric Sardà in 1972 for the Spanish company Flamagas. The clipper was the first refillable lighter launched in the semi-disposable category and very quickly secured its status as market leader in the sector. This was largely as a result of its iconic, instantly regonisable and highly functional design – a cylindrical nylon body, topped with steel, available in numerous colours. The design also incorporated safety features such as a fixed flame and child resistant lighting mechanism.

It is often said that Swiss design is synonymous with premium quality and engineering excellence - worldrenowned watches, the most used typeface in the world and a famous penknife typeface all immediately spring to mind and the Rainbow Hex Key Set is a worthy addition to the list.

Since production began in 2001, The Glencairn Glass has become the standard whisky-drinking glass to be used at distilleries, competitions and better-informed bars around the world. On its box, you can read how the glass tapers to provide an ‘ease of drinking not associated with traditional nosing glasses’, whilst still capturing ‘that all-important bouquet’ and allowing ‘the fullest appreciation of the whisky’s colour’. This is all true. The glass also looks alright and is of a satisfying weight. The lead-free crystal can survive in a crowded washing-up bowl but is still unobtrusively thin, increasing your sensitivity to the spirit’s temperature. The form and size of the bowl ensures a decent measure of whisky looks just right (when its level meets the curve’s apex) but, more importantly, it makes a generous measure look generous and an ungenerous measure look unforgivably measly. The shape of the glass encourages drinkers to develop a variety of grips; through familiarity with the glass one might develop a ‘colourchecking grip’, a ‘nosing grip’ or a flamboyant ‘last sip grip’ that’s unique to them.

The Clipper lighter has over the years, gained cult status, becoming highly collectable with rare colours or limited editions changing hands for considerable amounts of money. The term “Clipper mania” was coined to describe what, for many became a collecting compulsion. For some the Clipper lighter will always be associated with roll-your-own cigarettes as the removable flint system becomes a useful tool by which smokers pack tobacco tightly into their cigarettes. The products credibility as a 20th century icon is further enhanced by its position in counter culture - the lighter is often associated with the smoking of marijuana as it’s iconic shape allows the user to use the lighter without getting burned. The British musician The Streets used the Clipper lighter as his logo, whilst Artist Damien Hirst used the images of a Clipper lighter in a series of Artworks together with Silk Cut tobacco boxes. Whilst much of the Clipper lighter’s value may be wrapped up in it’s cultural impact, it remains that this status would be nothing if it failed as a product. It is first and foremost a functional tool that is easy to use, reliable and safe. It fits nicely in the hand and pocket and quietly gets on with the job. Materials: nylon / steel.

PS Swiss Tools has been a family-run firm since its beginnings in 1878, and as with the eminent multi-tool, its first client was the Swiss army. Priding themselves on their “excellent tools for high-standard work”, PB Swiss value “unsurpassed precision, toughness and flexibility”, as well as “the innovative energy which is anchored in solid craftsmanship”. Originally sold with a (typically Swiss red) twist-lock holder, they are now available with a magnetic hanging case for attaching to your tool belt, or ‘sticking’ directly on the machine or cabinet. There are variants for ‘Torx’ screws, and with elongated shafts or a 100 degree angle (as opposed to 90) for especially ‘hard-to-reach’ parts. The ball ends permit an effective turning action up to 30 degrees out. The powder-coat colouring presents an obvious practical advantage in use – the set stands out above everything else in the tool drawer, and allows you to quickly choose the size you need. As well as offering their essential range of tool sets in the definitive ‘rainbow’ theme, PB Swiss also provide numerous options for block colour sets and customisation. Made from high-hardness spring steel with each tool has a lifetime guarantee as standard, and an individual serial number – the manufacturing can be traced right back the raw materials. “As a professional craftsperson, you appreciate tools which you can rely on in any situation. We do our best to simplify your work.” Whilst they may be one of the more expensive sets of hex keys on the market, this is easily justified – the best you can get. Materials: spring steel.

Unusually for most (kitchen-based) functional objects, The Glencairn Glass has the enhancement of sensory pleasure as one of its foremost functions. The best tools, like a well-designed knife, can perform their basic tasks so well that they come to redefine what that task is, by gifting some pleasure in addition to the required practical result. Such tools become treasured by their users, who might feel as if they have discovered an unintended, magical happenstance of an object’s design. For the designers of The Glencairn Glass, however, pleasure-in-use could not be a subsidiary concern. No one drinks whisky from a special little glass out of necessity. Be it a late night private dram or a public toast, the drinking of good whisky is nearly always a ceremonial activity. And, because every element of The Glencairn has been developed with consideration for how it can enhance such pleasures, even with its relatively unceremonious, utilitarian appearance, it’s the perfect tool for the job. Materials: lead-free crystal.

19 /

Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort John Ruskin







Identify the following design thinkers: answers found at the bottom of the page.

Nice paper bags and tasty pork pies

The Tools for Everyday Life was occasionally fuelled by ‘The Noted Pie Shop’. Their pork pies are nice and salty (Other butchers are available)

The Northern Tool (4th edition) was printed by for The Tools for Everyday Day Life project at Northumbria University. £3/ $5 where sold

ISBN: 978-0-9549587-8-7 Answers: 01: John Ruskin 02: William Morris 03: David Pye 04: Stephen Bayley 05: Paola Antonelli


Northern tool #4  
Northern tool #4  

Almost completely without typos The Northern Tool returns for a fourth outing. This time the focus is on products unveiled at the ICFF in Ma...