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Dowse collection for The Design Museum July 06 2014

 

 

‘The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.’ Louis Kahn

 

Earlier this year I was thrilled to be asked to create a collection to accompany the upcoming exhibition at The Design Museum London, Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture. 

To my shame I had to admit to not having heard of Kahn before, so what followed was a wonderful period of discovery. It seems his work isn't as heavily documented as many of the other great modernist masters but I soon realised I was familiar with some of his buildings, though maybe not his name. I soon learned the significant importance of his vision and legacy and became fascinated with his work and life. 

Born in Estonia in 1901 he became, by the time of his death in 1974 one of America's greatest architects. Influencing generations of architects with his purity of intent and his refined use of basic materials. 

 


His buildings are monumental though not grandiose, they respond to the human scale. With a deep philosophy and poetic sensibility, he devoted his career to the pursuit of formal perfection and emotional expression. 

'A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed and in the end must be unmeasurable.' Louis Kahn

 

He worked with simple materials such as brick and concrete and with this created spaces reflecting his belief that modern buildings could have the monumental and spiritual qualities of ancient buildings. His conversation with a brick whilst professor of architecture at The University of Philadelphia shows his humour and theory on his materials. 

 

 'You say to a brick, 'What do you want, brick?' And brick says to you, 'I like an arch.' And you say to brick, 'Look, I want one, too, but arches are expensive and I can use a concrete lintel.' And then you say: 'What do you think of that, brick?' Brick says: 'I like an arch.' Louis Kahn

 

He has been criticised by some for creating intimidating buildings. Looking only at the exteriors they may have a point, they appear as abandoned modern cathedrals. But it's with his use of basic geometric shapes appearing as though sliced from the sides of the buildings that the magic really happens. They create wonderful light wells within the interiors that are exhilarating. These interior spaces are a celebration of light and space.

‘All material in nature, the mountains and the streams and the air and we, are made of light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called material casts a shadow and the shadow belongs to light’ Louis Kahn

 

The spaces he created have been known to generate great feeling in those who spend time in them. These people often reflect on the sense of respect Kahn must have had for those who would use his buildings. In the wonderful and revealing documentary about his father My Architect Nathaniel Kahn interviews many people whose lives have been touched by Kahn and his buildings. Often a tear is shed in memory of him in this very human film. 

 

 

 

'Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.' Louis Kahn

 

 For the collection I focused on what I saw as two of the stand out aspects of his work. In the metal I wished to capture the harmony he created with simple geometric shapes and with the screen prints aimed to express his uncompromising vision for his monumental buildings and the light of the environments these structures absorb and reflect. Choosing a palette of metallic ink and pastel colour for the background pattern to capture this light and also some of the more personal elements gathered for the exhibition, such as his watercolour and pastel sketches. 

 

 

Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture at The Design Museum London July 9th 2014 - October 12th 2014. 


The Dowse collection is available exclusively from The Design Museum Shop and Dowse.


Dowse at The National Gallery April 09 2014

We're thrilled some of our geometric design jewellery pieces will be available to buy at The National Gallery this month in conjunction with the exhibition Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting. The show starts on April 30th.


A Guide To The U.K.'s Coolest Seaside Town. March 14 2014

We're very pleased to be included as a top spot to visit in Brighton on Refinery 29's A Guide To The U.K.'s Coolest Seaside Town.

www.refinery29.com


New Stockists. March 07 2014

We're very happy to announce that DOWSE jewellery is now available at the Design Museum London, Chirpy Store Leeds and Search & Rescue London. We warmly welcome them to our network of stockists throughout the UK.

 


Christmas opening times at the shop & Last post information. November 28 2013

Christmas Opening Times. 

Starting this weekend we'll now be open every day until Christmas. Our opening times will be this until Christmas Eve, when we'll play it by ear to accommodate last minute shoppers.

MONDAY 10.30 - 4
TUESDAY 10.30 - 4
WED - SATURDAY 10.30 - 5.30
SUNDAY 11 - 4

 

Last days & times for ordering in time for Christmas. 

U.K. 4pm Thursday 19th December. 
Asia, Far East & New Zealand 4pm Tuesday 3rd December 
Australia 4pm Wed 4pm Wednesday 4th December
Africa, Caribbean, Central & South America, Middle East 4pm Thursday 5th Dec
Cyprus, Eastern Europe 4pm Sunday 8th December.
Canada, France, Greece, Poland 4pm Monday 9th December 
USA 4pm 12th December 
Western Europe (excluding France, Greece, Poland) Friday 4pm 13th December

Getting Festive November 10 2013

Started on the Christmas decoration at the shop today. 

Our hello wall has become a bit ho ho ho. With the facetted geometric pattern becoming an alpine landscape with the addition of some trees. 


Dawson Denim November 09 2013

One of our amazing designer / makers, Dawson Denim made a video with Stylesight We've been selling their aprons, bags and tool belts at the shop in Brighton where our customers have been really fascinated with the exquisite detail in their hand made denim workwear. In this video you can learn a little more about their ethos, influences and the importance of the components that create such a distinct and high quality range. 


Designer Interview: Fun Makes Good October 25 2013

Eleanor Young of Fun Makes Good is the designer of one of our shops best selling lines. Her geometric coasters and table mats have been incredibly popular with our shop customers. We're really looking forward to receiving her upholstered pouffes this month also. In her upholstery Eleanor combines detailed embroidery techniques with bold patterns and creative colour combinations to produce a striking range of interior products using locally sourced, specialist wools, leathers and hand dyed cotton.

 

Tell us your story please, where did it start for you?
I guess I have always made things, as a hobby growing up. But finally realised my passion for textiles and studied textiles at Glasgow School of Art specialising in embroidered textiles for interiors. Alongside my final year I took up upholstery evening classes at a local college. It was great to be able to put my flat textiles onto something 3D. It helped me understand what I could and couldn't do with my textiles.

Is being a designer what you imagined it would be like?
I think so! It can be very hard work and all consuming at times but on the flip side it it can be the greatest job with so much freedom to experiment and push yourself creatively. I only have good things to say and hope it continues!

What are your greatest challenges?
Keeping motivated is probably the hardest thing and finding your next project / commission can be tough. However this is one of the biggest enjoyments for me. Working on a variety of projects from retail to private commissions to exhibitions, I am lucky, I am never bored. The variety means everyday is different and each new projects brings its own challenges, but also achievements. It is a great way to work and each project helps to inform the next and I am always learning.

Where does your greatest satisfaction come from?
I really enjoy the process of creating, taking a design through from that initial spark of inspiration to seeing the final product on a shop shelf or in some ones home. It's very exciting to see your design placed onto an object and for it to be exactly how you imagined, especially if it is something I couldn't personally make. That is why my work is a mixture of handmade (by me) or manufactured (locally). 

Why do you manufacture in Britain and why does it matter to you?
There is no reason not to manufacture in the Uk so I try to whenever I can! In Scotland alone there are huge numbers of skilled workers and specialist manufacturers, I am constantly surprised at what is being made on my doorstep. I like getting to know the people behind my products, in the same way that I, as a consumer like to know a bit about the maker. I like the story and getting to see behind the scenes, if it's a mill weaving fabric or a leather tannery. I enjoy the collaborative aspect and when they say "oh that's unusual, not our normal style. But we like it!" and then help you make it! It's great.

What are the pros and cons of making here?
Pros definitely out weigh the cons, although communication is always going to make or break a project. Being able to visit the site of where your products are being made and sit down and discuss the final design is a real bonus. You can't get that kind of hands on approach via email or phone.

What ambitions do you have for your work?
I'd really like to stock in Europe, to have a handful of shops across the world would be rather nice! But closer to home i'd love to work on more spite specific work and large scale projects. I got a taste of it last year, completing bespoke upholstery for a restaurant in London  and I enjoyed the challenge. I'd really like to design a scheme for a boutique hotel or bar, or even some seating for a grand foyer.

Outside of design what influences you?
mmm probably the opinions of my family and friends, some of which are designers themselves so that might not count! But I try to be open to lots of different things, work related or not. My environment probably influences me quite alot too.

Does where you live influence you?
Most of my inspiration up until now has been architectural, looking at shapes in buildings and structures. It could be because I live in an ever changing city. If that changes then perhaps so will my style! But I just get drawn to shapes, pattern and colour. I tend to carry a camera around incase I suddenly see something I want to save for later. 

Please tell us some best kept secret's in your area.
Glasgow has a lot to offer and like lots of cities the smaller independent places can get gobbled up by high street chains and developers. One place which remains despite the many attempts to close it is a wee tea shop, hidden down a lane. Tchai Ovna makes the best tea and they have hundreds to choose from.

Which other British designer / manufacturers do you love or admire?
I really like Doshi Levien for form, shape and colour. I enjoy their use of textiles and their sense of fun, their wool parade for Kvadrat especially.

Please shine the light on any emerging designers you think we should know about?
Alittle Adholla make the most intricate patchwork clothes for children, I only wish they made adult clothes.

What does a typical day involve for you?
mmm cup of tea, check emails, 6 music on, start the to do list, tick things off and add to it! I might have orders to post out or I might have some upholstery to do. Tomorrow for example I have chairs to re-cover, fabric to order and designs to complete, on top of working towards my first solo exhibition which will be at the Lighthouse in Glasgow in December. It's all go, and full on!



What are you favourite websites for inspiration and / or wasting time?
I have started looking at Pinterest although I don't yet have my own boards. I like Lookatthesegems.com for a nice mix of posts (sometimes themed) covering films to food and everything in between. I have also started looking at Designfiles for a nosey round bright and enviable Australian homes.

What do you enjoy doing apart from designing and making?
I enjoy being creative in the kitchen. For the olympics my partner and I made a meal each night inspired by the competing countries in alphabetical order. Think we'll do the same for the Commonwealth next year. I also really enjoy getting out of the city, going hill walking and mountain biking.

If money was no object what classic piece of British design would you buy?
I would like a Robin Day Form sofa, for its simplistic, sleek design and its functionality. You can adjust and alter the seating/ table arrangements to suit your needs, although I would probably have to put some new upholstery on it. Or an Ercol love seat.




Designer Interview: Baines & Fricker October 25 2013

Please meet Baines & Fricker. Steve and Eliza are a husband and wife design duo who proudly produce all their work in the UK. We had the pleasure of working with them on the design of our Brighton shop.
Steve Baines has been a furniture maker for a number of years and Eliza Fricker has worked as an illustrator and screenprinter. Their collaborating has come from a passion for long-lasting design. They think that the mundane and everyday are worth looking at and have used these to influence their designs such as the Fruit Crate and Cement Works wallpaper.
We happily represent their work in Brighton at the shop. Their wonderful wallpapers and furniture are also available to order through our website. 


Tell us your story please, where did it start for you?
We launched Baines&Fricker at 100% Design in 2011. We had shared lots of ideas about what we wanted to make and do before this though..

Is being a designer what you imagined it would be like?
Yes, I think so. We always said if we could make a living out of doing what we love we would be happy and we are getting there!

What are your greatest challenges?
Juggling everything! Financial restraints.. Unpaid invoices, the usual woes of the self employed.

Where does your greatest satisfaction come from?
People liking what we do. Its great when people come back and ask for more furniture.

Why do you manufacture in Britain and why does it matter to you?
There are lots of great materials in this country- especially wood. We are very interested in heritage and craft. So many things are still made or sourced materials abroad.
We like to design something and then see how we can make it with what is around us.
We also like to use local businesses when we can for the bits we don't make.


What are the pros and cons of making here?
I suppose cost can be but we haven't really got a comparison as we don't tend to look abroad.
The pros are you are investing in other businesses in this country and establishing relationships.
We also have lots of clever and talented friends that we like to do 'creative exchanges' with. It can be a bit weird using money with friends so we often make furniture for them in exchange for their skills.

What ambitions do you have for your work?
I think things are really going in the right direction for us- if we can keep going like this and make a living that will be really really good.

Outside of design what influences you?
Photography books British post war photographers such as Don McCullin, Beautiful Losers- Alleged Gallery. Painter Stanley Spencer and the Lost Soho writers such as Patrick Hamilton & Julian McLaren Ross

Does where you live influence you?
Our home influences us- we live in a small flat but we have crammed it with everything we love.

Please tell us some best kept secret's in your area.
Steve knows some superior workman's cafes but you'll have to ask him..

Which other British designer / manufacturers do you love or admire?
Pinch design is always beautiful and Very Good and Proper for functionality.

Please shine the light on any emerging designers you think we should know about?
We exhibited next to Thorody fabrics at Design Junction this year. They are another husband and wife team and I think they will do very well indeed.

What does a typical day involve for you?
Walking the dog and answering emails and general admin for a few days a week and I aim to have a day or two for drawing/creative stuff but that doesn't always happen.
Steve is in the workshop most days unless we have meetings or stuff we need to do together.


What are you favourite websites for inspiration and / or wasting time?
Pinterest is really good and annoying as you can lose many hours of your life to it

What do you enjoy doing apart from designing and making?
The shows for Design Week- they are really tiring but we get to be together for a whole week and talk to lots of other designers.

If money was no object what classic piece of British design would you buy?

Coverage on weheart.co.uk online magazine. June 21 2013

It’s the ambition of many an independent business to get themselves a bricks and mortar premises, especially if you’re in retail; it’s somewhere people can walk into, sit down in, somewhere you can hang things from the walls, where they can be picked up and examined. Something concrete to make it all seem a bit more real. And there’s no shop window like a… shop window.

Brighton-based designer Susannah Dowse has achieved her ambition with the help of interiors people Baines & Fricker, combining her creative studio with a shop sellingDowse jewellery as well as gift products from other local and national artisans. We’ve long been fans of husband and wife duo Steve Baines and Eliza Fricker, and the couple’s signature style is writ large, although subtly, across the shop in the Hove area. Their clean fresh wood furniture and fixtures provide a perfectly pale display environment, the hand drawn designs of their wallpaper and prints are inventive, and of course there’s a B&F fruit crate tucked away somewhere. As Susannah herself says, it’s nice to see something on the high street that’s not a café or a boarded up video shop, and her first retail outlet is a particularly welcome addition to Brighton’s.


New Service at the Brighton shop: The Wish List June 20 2013

We now provide a Wish List service at the Brighton shop. All you need to do is come in, have a browse and let us know what you'd like added to your list. Then let your friends and family know you've got a list registered at the shop.
All they'll need to do is give your name and we'll show them round and all the items you've chosen. 
They'll know you're getting something you love and that it's money well spent, rather than a gamble on a gift you may not enjoy as much.


Elle Decoration design awards June 12 2013

If you've visited our shop and like it you might consider nominating it in the Elle Decoration awards for Destination of the year (shop).

I'm sure having only been opened for a couple of weeks we've got no chance at all. But it could be some good exposure for the shop. So if you think what we're doing is worth sharing please consider nominating email elledecoration@hearst.co.uk with your nominations. See the image for the categories and info. Thank you!


We opened a shop. May 30 2013


You may already have experienced the satisfying feeling of wearing DOWSE's unique jewellery in the knowledge you are also supporting both British made design and manufacturing. DOWSE have been building a steady stream of loyal fans over the last few years and those already collecting their delicately constructed asymmetric designs and cloudy dream inspired interiors will be pleased to hear that Brighton based DOWSE have finally found themselves a house.

Filling a space in the Hove area of Brighton for affordable gifts sourced from British designers, DOWSE has handpicked the best local makers, together with specially selected European made items, bringing them together to showcase all in a finely crafted home. Continuing in the DOWSE tradition, items are sourced locally and ethically, ensuring that people are paid fairly and airmiles and resources are not spent needlessly.

Combining simplicity, decoration and an eye for detail,  DOWSE is hoping to bring back some life to the high street, beyond the smell of coffee and yet another boarded up video shop. Part of a movement across the country that appreciates the value of well made and distinctive products made by individuals over chain shops and mass manufacturing, DOWSE makes it easy to make the world look better and be better. 

Selling jewellery, mid century British furniture, prints, homewards, cards, stationery and more. DOWSE have collaborated with noted local designers Baines & Fricker to create a unique installation for the shop, making the whole experience of shopping much more like a dream and a stroll than a soulless troll through the internet.


Shop Launch May 21 2013

The DOWSE shop will launch this Thursday 23rd May 6pm - 9pm drinks and bites provided for your merriment. So if you're in Brighton please feel free to drop by. You'll find us at 133 Western Road Hove BN3 1DA near Norfolk square. 

The shop will open for business on bank holiday Monday 27th May 10 - 5. 

 


Exciting times April 12 2013

Things may have seemed a little quiet around for a while. The reason being we've been a bit distracted by exciting new developments at DOWSE. We're planning the opening of our first DOWSE shop. A showcase for Susannah's design and the best local designers here in Brighton. We'll also be stocking some beautiful British mid century furniture and selected interior products by some great British and European designers. 

The shop interior design is a being created in collaboration with fantastic Brighton design duo Baines and Fricker. We're very excited to see this all coming together and hope to open within the next month or so....fingers crossed!


Collaboration with Ayten Gasson Lingerie. March 04 2013

We're very happy to have teamed up Ayten Gasson Lingerie on a limited edition range of bridal lingerie. Available in either a gift set or as individual garters and knickers. The white silk bridal knicker is trimmed with elegant vintage Nottingham lace and is a subtle way to incorporate ‘something old’ into your wedding day. The knicker is finished with a delicate blue bow ‘something blue’ and an exquisite lucky horseshoe amulet created by DOWSE to add ‘something new’. Available to buy at Ayten Gasson


New jewellery collection: The Tender Line January 04 2013

The title The Tender Line hopes to capture the humanity and fragility of an idea and then how it's made real through a mechanical process.

This collection takes primary influence from the 1920's and the ideas of the modernist future held at the time. Motifs reflecting the symmetry of the machines and geometry of the architecture in Fritz Lang's film Metropolis. Also exploring further the Art Deco philosophy of using machine production to create elegant and streamlined designs through our use of etched industrial metals to make delicate and decorative pieces. 
The collection is imagined to be worn by Gloria the capricious beauty in F Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Beautiful and Damned.


The House that DOWSE built. September 15 2012

Welcome to the new home for designs by Dowse. 

Dowse previously worked with good friend Ridley as Ridley & Dowse, now that their adventure together has ended this is where Dowse shall be found from now on. The same service and design style you will have been familiar with from R & D will continue to grow and many new directions will be explored. We hope you stick around to see the new developments.