MARK, with its strap line “Product of Cornwall,” is so much more than just a “range of furniture and lighting designed for home, work and leisure,” as the website describes it.
Since its launch at 100% Design in 2008 (at which the Net chair scooped the Blueprint 100% Design award for best new interior product) it has been putting Cornish design and Cornish designers on a national if not international stage.
Ever keen to promote the burgeoning creative industries in Cornwall, I introduced myself to John Miller (co-creative director with Anna Hart) at 100% Design the following year (at which MARK was nominated by Elle Decoration for the British Design Awards “best new brand” and Kay+Stemmer’s Wave table was nominated for a Homes and Gardens Classic Design award – see what I mean?!).
I had just started writing my blog and was keen to get an interview. Eighteen months later, we’re finally there and I’m very pleased to be able to feature some MARK products as well as some insight from both John and Anna about working in the creative industries in Cornwall.
What’s so special about Cornwall?
AH: I think a lot of people have adopted Cornwall as a special county which they love and feel at home in even if they were not born here. Although it’s rather more spread out than urban areas we’ve still got a good mix of life happening here, which you can enjoy right on your doorstep and a huge amount of it seems to have a creative edge. Events such as Port Elliot festival and theatre company Kneehigh are just two examples. Both hold their own on a national scale; they just happen to be based in an area of outstanding natural beauty too, which is the greatest bonus!
Why do you think Cornwall attracts so many creative people?
What we are doing with MARK is even more of a recent phenomenon; linking the creative culture with the industrial heritage of the county, and the many skilled people that are here.
Do you think the creative industries could provide a real future for Cornwall’s economy?
What advice would you give to a designer, or any creative person, thinking of relocating to Cornwall? Is it really possible to make a living there now?
AH: I wouldn’t have relocated to Cornwall without some security of a job or freelance work allowing me a chance to find my feet. I don’t think Cornwall is unique in that it does take a time to build up a network of people when relocating to a new area and to uncover the hidden talents of people living in the area. It’s also a real advantage to be able to look outside of Cornwall in order to make a living, some of my friends have their biggest contracts with clients well outside the borders of Cornwall.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
- http://vimeo.com/17437094 (short interview with Anna and John and lots of gorgeous product shots – won’t play in all browsers)
- http://www.falmouth.ac.uk/index.php?option=com_contact&task=view&contact_id=62&Itemid=218 (John Miller profile)
- http://moderngarden.co.uk/news/Tent-London (net bar stools at Tent London)