5 December 2013
Considered Objects, 2013
Vase, mirror, dish: concrete and brass
The most discerning design sites have been drip-feeding us gorgeous images of David Taylor's work for some time now. So we decided to visit his studio in central Stockholm for a first-hand glimpse of the man and what he surrounds himself with. Born in Falkirk, David Taylor trained as a silversmith and moved to Sweden to study at the renowned Konstfack University in the late nineties; he's been there ever since. His practice now encompasses everything from public space design to lighting to what might be called tabletop sculpture.
"I call myself a craftsman," he says, "and I have reached a point where I make a living by making the things I want to make. This means my practice mirrors my moods in some way. I've begun to use this energy to find new applications and areas where my craft skills and sensibilities can be seen as valuable."
Semi-circular silversmith's benches
Formerly a shop, his space is gallery-like from the street, with several silversmith's benches and an impressive array of pliers in one corner. The darker back room is full of larger machinery and a treasure trove of past and future work.
Pliers for every conceivable use
Bench-block with a past
Before meeting, we were particularly drawn to the series Brand New Heavies, an apt title for dumbbell-like objects that are actually lidded containers. Contrary to appearances, while they're not what you'd call featherlight, the pieces are hollow--the impression of solidity is all in the proportions. As with much of his practice, there's also a very special use of material qualities. The dark clay, hand-thrown by a friend and collaborator, looks almost burnished, with a touch of a machined quality. The mirror-polished tin lid is full of lumpen creases.
The Brand New Heavies, 2013
Fine finishing the surface
David's focus is the alchemy of the workplace "What I work for is to work undisturbed in my studio," he says. "Every time I sell something, complete a public commission, or get a product in the shops, it all distills down to undisturbed studio time, with a cup of tea and some music." The chance to ruminate, with everything to hand, results in a very thoughtful union of craft capabilities and raw, unglamorous materials.
David Taylor in his studio, 2013
The 'Crowd' series of candlesticks makes use of that standard urban pairing, spraypaint on concrete. For all David's time in Sweden, there's a feel of postwar municipal architecture here: Festival of Britain park pavilions turned to a sort of optimistic rubble. These experiments develop through having materials around and ready for use: remnants from past projects, things found in the street. If you're David Taylor, amongst these odd building blocks you start to craft apricot-coloured conical mesh or shining brass collars. Concrete fairy cakes and conjoined baubles. Slowly, you've got a family of candlesticks that are reminiscent of each other, but each their own. "The thing about a candlestick" he says "is that is can really be anything."
Crowd, 2012 -2013
a growing community of candlesticks made in concrete, brass, bakelite, leather, silver and various other materials.
Accumulated found objects and works in progress
This diversification from the pure craft of silversmithing began partly as pragmatism. Silver is now just too expensive, and the customers who can pay for substantial pieces of it too few. But, as much as you can theorise about the economic climate bringing about this trend towards the raw and the spartan in design, it is obvious that this broadening of David's practice has brought an otherwise impossible spark to his work, and indeed his workshop.
Slag: The glassy result of 16th century copper smelting
Just before leaving, David showed us a large shopper bag full of rocks, which offered a sidelong glance at just how his mind works. Like any true Stockholmer, he has an island sommarstuga, or summer house. There, he found large amounts of blue slag: "You can't not stumble upon it, it's everywhere, there are buildings made of it!" The result of 16th century copper smelting, it's a vitreous, or glassy substance, cloudy and full of strata. David has no real idea what's in it, and has no capacity for working glass. He concedes it's a "tough nut," but his curiosity is whetted. Can it be ground down, or melted? It's a fun new (old) ingredient to be explored. We can't wait to see what will become of it.
 In fact, David jokes that felonious individuals have been key to shaping his work in other ways, he was recently commissioned to replicate a silver chalice that had sadly been stolen from a Stockholm church. A rare chance for David to simply focus on the pleasure of his craft skills, a pause away from his more experimental work.