Blog, Meet the Maker

Meet the Maker: Deirdre Hawken currently exhibiting at Metropolitan Museum, New York

Deidre
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Deidre Hawken makes what might loosely be called hats or head pieces. However that description does not do justice to the exquisite intricate pieces of work created by this multi talented designer. I and my photographer went to interview her recently in her studio.

JB.I know you as a hat designer and maker, but I understand  that you also design and make jewelry. Can you tell us which discipline you trained in and how you came to practice both?

DH I trained in theater design, sets and costume, at the Central School of Art and Design, now Central St Martins.

I worked as a Theater Designer for some time and I was an Art Director for a couple of design companies, but I have always loved the design and making process. I have made costume accessories for The Royal Opera House, English National Ballet and the BBC, I also designed a run of windows for Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and made props for Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Asprey Ltd and I had an exhibition in Fortnum and Mason among others, and I created collections of jewellery with my sculptor husband for various fashion designers.

three hats

JB.What is a typical day for you?

DH. There is no typical day! I could be designing hats or jewellery or researching new work, seeing a client or dealing with boring administration.

into studio

 JB. What do you love most, about what you do?

DH.I love researching ideas, it is now so easy on the internet, and as I said I love everything about the making process, especially dyeing fabrics.

working pages with fabrics dyed

 JB.What do you dislike most about what you do?

DH Any kind of administration.

JB.Have you ever worked for anyone else? Or done any collaborations ? If so with whom?

DH.When you are a designer for the theater you’re basically working with and for the director, but I have been a freelance designer most of my life. I did collaborate with a jeweler, we were asked to make a joint piece, but I did not really enjoy the experience. I have also made jewellery with my husband.

mushroom onions etc

 JB.What made you want to start your own creative business?

DH. I love working for myself, although I sometimes have an assistant on a really big job, such as when I made jewellery for Saks 5th Avenue.

 JB.Have you had any training recently? If so where and why?

DH.Not recently, but in 1998 I won a scholarship to study couture millinery. This was through QEST, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. There are no age limits and but you do have to fill in a very difficult application form. I trained with Rose Cory in Couture Millinery and had an internship with Stephen Jones. I also went to America and studied at the Met.

JB.Can you describe your creative process?

DH.First I have an idea, then I research, choose the materials. I only work with a few materials, leather, silk taffeta, silk velvet silk organza and organdie. I dye all the fabrics myself using Dylon dyes. I then decide how to make the headpiece or perhaps a collection of jewellery. Most of my headpieces are one off designs. I never make another piece exactly the same.

cigar making in progress

JB.What are your biggest challenges?

DH.Selling work.

cigars

JB. What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field today?

DH.It has always been difficult to be self-employed, especially in the Creative Sector, I believe good training is essential, also you must have self belief.

JB.Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult?

DH.I think it is harder, as everyone thinks they can be an artist or a designer.

JB.Have you exhibited? If so, where?

DH. I have had so many exhibitions it is hard to choose which ones to talk about. I have work in the following Public Collections: Victoria and Albert Museum – London, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute – New York, Kyoto Institute of Costume – Tokyo, Graves Art Gallery– Sheffield, Museum of Costume –Bath, Philadelphia Museum of Art-USA, Hat Museum- Stockport.

 JB.How do you find clients?

DH. Clients come to me and I sell at exhibitions.

JB. What are you currently working on?

DH.A very tricky Summer Pudding Headpiece for submission for the London Hat Show early 2018.

summer pudding

 JB.Do you teach or run workshops? If so where?

DH. Not now! I have taught at various Art colleges and was an assessor for the BA Jewellery course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and design, Dundee for three years. I have given many talks including one at the V &A and many workshops all over the country.

lemons leather

 JB.What is next?

salad

DH. I am developing a range of headpieces which can be displayed as Still Life’s in acrylic cases, which I am finding very exciting.

JB. That is a great idea, your work is far too lovely to store out of site, in a hat box.

Many thanks Juliet

I did this interview over a year ago, however this week I had the email below and this image. So I wanted to share it with you.

‘I just wanted to let you know that a Cauliflower headpiece of mine  has been included in the latest exhibition at the Costume Institute, part of the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
I was so thrilled it was included! I am attaching an image of it in situ, the exhibition is called ‘Camp’ Notes on Fashion.’

http://www.deirdrehawken.com/

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Habitat’s Key Trends for Autumn Winter 2017

I would love to work in the Habitat studio, the designers travel the globe going to exhibitions, design shows, markets and workshops seeking inspiration. What a job!

After their initial research, the products are designed and sourced. The company ethos is to celebrate the craft and the skills of the maker and artist. They re-imagine traditional materials and techniques, designing with a sense of fun for those who appreciate contemporary design, but don’t take things too seriously.

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The AW17 colour palette has a new group of matt, chalky and earthy colours. Fennel, Salmon and Paprika are key to the season and create a background for the more saturated brights. New colours include small amounts of Crocus and Satsuma.

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A mix of designs worked in 1970’s colour-ways and paired with accents of bold primaries. A bohemian edge is created with loosley woven, up-cycled sari rugs, hand painted accessories and walnut furnishings.aw17-lftyl-s02-bonham-sofa-green-rgb-300dpi

A new range of black tableware has been developed with bold shapes and strong silhouettes in complete contrast to the usual white dinner service.

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There are thirty new rugs in the collection many made from recycled materials and are re-interpretations of the traditional Indian wool dhurrie first introduced by Habit in the UK in the 1960’s. What is excellent is that as well as a range of designs, there is also a range of prices, so you should be able to find something to suit your pocket.aw17-lftyl-s04-tiling-patterns-the-traditional-wool-dhurrie-redesigned-060-rgb-300dpi

As with so many interior companies they have their own version of the velvet sofa and chairs in deep colours to match the sumptuousness of the fabric and the comfort of the furniture.

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Pattern is everywhere, often taken from tile designs and then translated into contemporary textiles and ceramics.aw17-lftyl-s07-playful-mark-making-textiles-124-rgb-300dpi

 

In case this collection sounds as if it is all highly ethnic there is also the sleek high glamour inspired by 1970’s Italian design. Marble and brass are still key materials and are used to create a feeling of opulence. Some very nice designs here Habitat.

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Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius

 

A series of newly commissioned installations, exploring our perceptions and connections to colour. Research, art and design combine in works that challenge the modern industrialization of colour.

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Drawing on 15 years of research, acclaimed designer Hella Jongerius presents Breathing Colour: an installation-based exhibition that takes a deeper look at how colour behaves.

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Jonerius’ research has been inspired by a wide range of sources. These include painters, who recognized and recorded how light affects objects. For example Monet who painted the same haystack over and over to document the different colours and atmospheres at different times of day.

Breathing Colour creates an exhibition that blurs the boundaries between art and design. Combining intriguing shapes with extensive research: the exhibition questions our preconceptions of colour and embraces its imperfections and experimentation.

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Hella Jongerius explains:

‘There is a phenomenon  in colorimetry called Metamerism. This was the starting point of my colour research. It occurs when colours are viewed in different conditions, and describes the effect when two colours appear to match even though they might not actually do. I think everyone once bought a piece of furniture or clothingin a certain colour, and experienced a shock when unpacking it back at home. Most companies see the effect as problematic and try to avoid it, and produce colours that attempt to eliminate it. But I want to make a plea for embracing metamerism. As a designer, I want to make a plea for plastics, varnishes and paints to use layered pigments that provide intense colours that are allowed to breathe with changing light.’IMG_1341.jpg

The exhibition is divided into separate spaces that simulate daylight conditions at specific times of day-morning-noon and evening. These three phases explore the impact of changing daylight on our perception of colour. Each installation includes a series of 3D objects as well as textiles. Some of which are hand-woven while others are produced on industrial looms.

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Large –scale textiles experiment in creating black tones without the use of black materials. Woven from woolen, linen and cotton threads, these textiles are an extension of Jongerius’ previous research into the colour

Black and her rejection of the standard industrial approach, to adding carbon to colours in order to darken them.IMG_1377.jpg

Where colours were once produced by mixing pigments into infinite permutations, we now select them according to a name on a chart.

Jongerius argues that these processes of industrialization have narrowed our experience of colour and its cultural meanings. Breathing Colour explores how we relate to colour in a more intimate and personal way.

At The Design Museum 224-238 Kensington High Street London W8 6AG

28th June – 24th September 2017

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