Makers & Brothers

Superfolk

We went for a drive with Superfolk. We were heading off to see the production of  new mugs that are being sold exclusively through Makers and Brothers.

Superfolk is an independent design studio based in Ireland. The studio’s heart is in the craft of production, be that hand made or industry. Superfolk products are a tribute to Ireland’s heritage of vernacular object making, playfully referencing a way of life rooted in the land, its animals and its weather whilst also striving to emulate the sensitivity and sustainability of the vernacular approach.

The studio is focused on working with locally sourced Irish materials and strives for innovation in its approach to natural resources such as ceramics, wood and leather.

Superfolk design studio was established in 2008 and is led by Irish designer Gearóid Muldowney.

Gearóid was driving.

As he drove we chatted.

When did all this begin?

I suppose I have grown up pulling things apart. My mother used to keep a stock of things just for me to pull apart so as I wouldn't break the good things. I promised  I would be able to fix them but I am not sure how often that happened.

Then I used to go down to a workshop one of our neighbours had. I would sit and just watch him make little wooden boards, it was before I was able to do anything like that, I must have been about 6. Playing in the woods was the first time I really started making stuff, stick huts, bows and arrows.

"My mother used to keep a stock of things just for me to pull apart so as I wouldn't break the good things."

We talked about tree’s.

Whats your favourite tree?

Serioulsy?

I like beech trees, I like the way beech trees grow......... ohh no..... Scots Pine! I like Scots

Pines trees aswell. Wood is different but as trees I like Scots Pine.

When we got to the factory we were told the batch we had come to see had been thrown a few days earlier, so no messy action for us. Once thrown they had been left to air dry. When reasonably dry and this wonderfully dependent on the weather each is poped on a lathe and refined so as it startes to resemble the final piece.

Gearóid sees making as a way of designing, design by doing. Making is key to his approach,making with a plan. An approach that always starts with a respect for the material.

I didnt study industrial design because I felt there was not enough making involved.... too much sitting at a desk. I felt you shouldn't be designing stuff if you didn't really know how to make it.

Influences? 

Why I am making? I am influenced more about why than what. Making, producing in a responsible way. To be able to live with things that have no guilt attached to them in any way, if there is a holistic approach to a products manufacturing I think it can only be a good thing.

Not sure, I grew up here and they are the things I know the most about. They are the fruits of this country, the land, our traditons. These influences I like to see as research that has been done already and it would be irresponsible of me to ignore that.

"We wanted to create a mug you could drink tea from during the day but also drink beer from at night without it feeling wrong for either use."

Why a mug, is it going to be part of a larger table top collection?

Having made tables it felt like a natural progression to make tableware. I try to get people as close to the materials around them as I can. The relationship a person has with a mug or a cup is a very intimate one. The mug held in the hand and pressed to the lips. If you can get a mug feeling just right, the language of this can be applied to a whole range.

The mug was designed to accommodate many uses. We wanted to create a mug you could drink tea from during the day but also drink beer from at night without it feeling wrong for either use.

What next?

Jewellery, I haven't touched jewellery in a long time I would like to do jewellery again.

Gearóid sketched out what he would like to make for the table top collection. A pitcher/jug is first on the list.

We drove home as it started to get dark.

What is essential in your work?

Honesty, integrity, ease of use and sustainability, the story, the making.

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