interview :: amy isles freeman

Katie | August 23, 2016

Amy Isles Freeman makes “hand turned, hand painted, useful objects.” Describing naivety as “one of the best starting points,” Amy trained as a fine artist and learned to turn wood on a farm in Cornwall. Combining the traditionally masculine practice of woodwork with her decorative painting style, that celebrates femininity in all its guises, has resulted in a distinctive body of work that sets her apart. Design Geek first came across her work during our Cornish Design Season at the end of last year and editor Katie Treggiden thought it was high time they caught up…

What's the most important thing to know about you?

Expressing myself in an honest and meaningful way is of paramount importance to me, to communicate effectively my thoughts and feelings on the world.

Where do ideas come from?

Ideas come from a place of relaxation. I can’t be inspired if I am stressed.

interview :: amy isles freeman

What are you working on at the moment?

My current collection is playful. All my work is play. Simple turned shapes depict themes of female sexuality that are entwined with botanical shapes and birds that look like hands, full of joy and colour. They are pieces of art to live amongst the things in someone’s house, not on the wall.


interview :: amy isles freeman

Talk me through the design and making process of that collection from initial idea to final product.

The process varies wildly depending on what the product is. For example, my new bedside tables have taken months of planning, beginning with endless sketches and maquettes, organising some fellow makers to teach me how to weld and outsourcing steel bar bending. On the other side of the coin, a new bowl idea and design could start and finish in a day. I don’t spend much time working things out on paper when it comes to patterns, I just begin to play with shapes and colours straight onto the pots. Painting onto three dimensions is always so different, and taking into account the piece as a whole cannot happen on a flat white sheet. If it goes wrong – sand it off and begin again.


interview :: amy isles freeman

Which part of the process do you enjoy most?

I am trained in the painting and drawing side of my work, so I find that much more relaxing. However, when I have a turning day, covered in dust, listening to Beyonce or No Such Thing As A Fish, and I turn a few really nice bowls, it feels pretty powerful.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?

Definitely gaining the confidence to walk into processes and materials that I haven’t worked with before.

interview :: amy isles freeman

What defines good design?

Good design has to have character.

interview :: amy isles freeman

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud that I have continually challenged myself. Had I not, I would still be making some very boring work.

interview :: amy isles freeman

What advice would you give to a new designer?

Work out what your strengths are, whether it’s understanding colour, shape, or materials, and use that to gain the confidence in the other avenues of your work.

And finally, what's your favourite colour?

Red. It sings so loudly amongst the others.

interview :: amy isles freeman

Amy Isles Freeman will be exhibiting at the London Design Fair 22  –25 September 2016. Register for your tickets here. Portrait photograph by Paul Whittaker.

Further Reading for the Especially Geeky ::

Founding Editor – Katie Treggiden

Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.

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