It seems ironic that the design school at Northumbria University‘s two most famous graduates would be Max Lamb and Jonathan Ive. At one end of the spectrum is Lamb, a designer so consumed with the act of making and the transparency of process that he films himself fabricating each piece from start to finish and posts the results on his website. On the other is Ive, who’s responsible for an object that’s more of a cipher, one that conceals its mechanics within and successfully erases any questions about the way it works or the context in which it was made. But perhaps the difference between the two designers is as simple as the difference between their concentrations at university: Ive graduated from a Northumbria program known as Design for Industry, which focuses on consumer experience, while Lamb finished a course called Three-Dimensional Design, where the act of making is as paramount as the artifact itself.
It’s the latter program that’s yielded the Designers in Residence who have exhibited at ICFF, for two years running, a collection of products known as Tools for Everyday Life, and it’s in Lamb’s footsteps that those designers follow. The residency program offers resources and workshop space to design school graduates who stay in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne region, and the pieces in the collection use the utilitarian language of those workshop tools as a jumping-off point. This year, the collection — which ranges from spun-copper lamps to cabinet pulls reminiscent of things like wing nuts — picked up an ICFF Editor’s Award for best products and accessories, and the booth’s elegant offerings set the blogosphere salivating. But few fairgoers seemed to have noticed a small newsprint takeaway at the booth called The Northern Tool, which documented the process behind each of the objects in question. Luckily your eagle-eyed editors spotted it, and we’ve reprinted for you its highlights along with images of the objects for anyone who didn’t make it to New York.