Why do I love the work of British designer Kirsty Thomas? It’s not just because she’s promised to take me out for fish and chips next time I’m in Scotland. I first fell for the copper- and formica-accented line of handcrafted jewelry—not to mention her copper-foil adorned cards and notebooks—when I spotted the display of her design studio Lovely Pigeon at the designjunction expo during last September’s London Design Festival. Thomas is a print maker, jeweler, illustrator, and “occasional shopkeeper” who works out of an old net loft in Cellardyke, a fishing village on the East coast of Scotland. I asked Thomas about her use of copper, which was a strong trend at the festival.
Why do you use so much copper in your work?
I love the copper/brass trend that has emerged recently. The softer, warmer tones of copper, bronze, and brass add a bit of bling and glamour without being ostentatious or showy. I also think warm metallics have a heritage feel and using them in their raw state has a truth and simplicity that you don’t always get from other metallic products and materials. It seems to be a natural progression from the pastels trend which has been prevalent for a few years now. The softer metallic tones work well with pastels but also look amazing against darker (black, navy, and charcoal) interiors and products. I really like the combination of these warmer metallics with my usual palette of washed out pastels and solid blues and grays. This year’s collection was inspired by the geometry of local harbors—sunsets, reflections, and the shapes and structures of boats, masts, and sails. The stationery collection breaks these seascapes into their most simple geometric forms and the copper foil gives the impression of reflections in water. I also love the tactile quality of foiling and the less “blingy” effect the you get from shades of copper, brass, and bronze.
Is it an affordable option right now?
Yes, I think copper a reasonably affordable material to work with and can give a high-end finish without paying the high price of silver or gold.
How long have you been designing with copper?
This is the first year that I have used copper in the collection. I have previously worked mainly with plastics but wanted to add a more “glamorous” edge to this years collection whilst maintaining the simple geometric theme of my work.
Have you seen an increase in the use of copper in home goods, accessories, jewelry, etc.?
Yes! Across all areas of design the copper trend seems to be really flourishing—particularly in homewares.
All images courtesy Lovely Pigeon.