Clare Burnett

Member Article

Manufacturing company collaborates with designer for Galvanize Sheffield

Ancon Building Products has joined forces with local designer, David Appleyard to create stainless steel seats as part of the Galvanize festival of contemporary metal.

With 2013 marking 100 years since the discovery of stainless steel, an initiative was launched at this year’s Galvanize festival to award Museums Sheffield with a permanent functional exhibit in celebration of the centenary.

David Appleyard, an artist with a studio at Yorkshire Artspace was selected to work in collaboration with manufacturing firm, Ancon Building Products, on the design and manufacture of a new stainless steel seat.

Originating in 1882, Ancon is one of Sheffield’s longest established steel fabrication businesses and specialises in working with stainless steels.Between May and October, Ancon production engineer, Paul Fisher, worked with David in order to create the piece at Ancon’s manufacturing facility.

David said: “Normally my work develops in conjunction with research I do on the context for my artworks or designed products. As ideas develop into drawings I start to discuss methods of realising a project with a range of manufacturers.

“This time I had to work the other way round, the concept developed directly alongside visits to Ancon and by developing a clearer understanding about their in-house expertise and production capabilities.

I went into the Ancon factory without any clear ideas for the seat, apart from that it had to be made with stainless steel. What we produced was very much a collaboration.

“Paul Fisher’s amazing knowledge of the properties of stainless steel proved invaluable in making the design work and it’s great that we managed to show off some of the fixings for which Ancon is known.”

Ancon’s Paul Fisher alsosaid: “For me, this was a big change from my normal work supplying large construction sites. I am usually charged with responding to clients’ specific requirements, whereas here I was fortunate to be able to have a direct influence on the finished design.

This project made me think differently about stainless steel. Ancon’s products are structural, so normally hidden. I don’t worry about ‘aesthetics’ and ‘form’, things that product designers tend to focus on.

“I really enjoyed working with David and discussing how products can function well and look beautiful.

“I thoroughly enjoyed visiting David’s studio at Yorkshire Artspace. It’s a little cave of curiosities and a real insight into his creative mind.”

Chair of Galvanize and former Master Cutler, Neil McDonald said: “As well as having a responsibility to preserve and nurture traditional skills in Sheffield we also need to pioneer new ways to use the skills we have here to design and manufacture new products.

“Part of this is to look at a different way of approaching the task – put two people together with complementary skills, a broad brief and see what happens.”

The stainless steel bench will be located in the Millennium Gallery’s entrance. Galvanize aims to exhibit a replica of the piece at several international design shows to promote the Galvanize Sheffield festival to a wider audience during 2014.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Clare Burnett .

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