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New Designers 2021: Meet Elliot Payne

Highlighting the folding feature of flat-pack furniture and re-envisioning this with a design focus, Elliot Payne’s Cut + Crease design was shortlisted for our New Designers 2021 award; learn more about Payne and his interesting use of materials below, and discover why we fell in love with his eye-catching Side Table.

1. Congratulations on being shortlisted for The Conran Shop and The Marandi Foundation's Designer of the Future Award 2021; how do you feel, and what does this award mean for your future and practice?

Firstly, I’m very grateful to have been shortlisted and excited for the opportunities that will hopefully come next. The award will allow me to progress further with my career in design and fills me with confidence in my design thinking.

2. Are you familiar with the work we do at The Conran Shop and of Sir Terence's legacy? Did it have any influence on your work?

Of course, Sir Terence Conran’s ethos closely relates to my practice as a designer; simple, functional design. His penchant for taste-making is aspirational. 

3. Please tell us more about who you are and your project.

I’m Elliot, a designer from a village near Bath. I’ve just finished my degree in Product and Furniture design at Kingston School of Art. The university’s mantra is “thinking through making,” which is how this project was born.

CeCe is a range of small furniture items inspired by the creation of structure from a flat sheet.

The design evolved through iterative prototyping of living hinges, in paper and plastics until I discovered ACM (Aluminium Composite Materials).

The properties afforded by the ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) mean that you can manufacture thin profile materials into nets of single component products that can be assembled remotely with no tools, and also occupy minimal space. So much so that you can fit 266 CeCe Side Tables in a volume of 1m³.

The reductive approach to the manufacturing processes through the use of the CNC means that all of the machining for one CeCe side table can be done in 18 minutes. The CNC also means the yield from each stock sheet is maximised as the complex cuts and grooves are machined without error. The small offcut at the end of a 2440x1220mm sheet can be used for a shelf. This reduces costs associated with manufacture also.

4. As to your work, who inspires it, and do you have a particular process that drives your craft?

My work isn’t inspired by anyone in particular. I’m always looking for inspiration. But one company that gets my attention often is Nils Holger Moormann.

 My process is largely materials based, looking to make the most of the opportunities afforded by the materials and exploring processes.

5. How important do you think something like New Designers is for emerging designers?

I think it’s extremely important for emerging designers to participate in things like New Designers as it allows us to get our work in front of companies like The Conran Shop and other industry professionals alike.

6. Looking around, did you see any emerging trends/shared concerns/materials with your fellow designers?

A trend that grows year on year and I hope is here to stay is sustainability. I can see amongst my peers that people are being more considerate with regards to the consequences their ideas and designs have on our planet. This largely concerns materials used or increasing the emotional value so products won’t be discarded so frequently.

7. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing emerging designers? Did the pandemic impact your work in any way, and how was it working through New Designers virtually?

I’d say one of the biggest challenges for emerging designers is staying true to your design thinking. The industry has limited opportunities, so it can be easier to try to fit a mould.

The pandemic definitely impacted my projects this year. At first, I was resistant to working digitally as I prefer working with materials directly. But as the year progressed, I was grateful for the new skills I had learnt and felt that my design decisions were more considered as a result. I was also able to access the workshop later in the year to produce prototypes, meaning my portfolio was more diverse with both physical and digital work present.

8. What, in your opinion, makes a design timeless?

A timeless design is one that is functional and durable so it can exist for a long time. It should be simple, but still say ‘wow’ and create intrigue.

 9. What are your ambitions for the next ten years?

For the next ten years, I hope to continue to learn and develop as a designer. It would be incredible to have a studio of my own so that I can provide opportunities to emerging designers.

10. Lastly, which is your favourite piece of design history and who is your best-loved designer?

This is tough one, I wouldn’t say there is a single designer. If I had to pick, I’d say Charles and Ray EamesLCW Chair. But, from more recent years the Pressed Chair by Harry Thaler and the Bold Chair by Big Game Design are some of my favourites. I love them all for their simplicity and deception.

Click here to discover more about our involvement with New Designers and to meet the rest of the 2021 shortlist; plus, be sure to follow Elliot here.