The Enterprising Alumni Association organises a programme of activities and events to keep you in contact with other creative leaders who have graduated from UAL. Our programme has been designed to help answer your questions and provide thought-provoking inspiration for each other’s creative business enterprise.
We caught up with Charlotte to find out more about her background, and why she got involved with the association.
Tell us more about your business? How did it come about? How would you explain your work/ your ethos?
As a sculptor, making has always been a huge part of my life and who I am. My BA degree from Slade School of Art was in sculpture and after a long break, I followed that with an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea School of Art (now Chelsea College of Arts). It can be tough to survive as a fine artist and I wanted to find a way to continue my love for making, alongside my own practice, and that is how I started heimdesign, by making functional objects out of cement.
At Chelsea, I was casting a fair bit and this skill is what I brought to my business, making individually handmade useable objects. I started to research different aggregate to mix with cement to make it light, as the traditional sand mix produces very heavy objects, which from all aspects, are totally impractical. I found 2 different plant minerals, which I now use, to make ultra-light objects, which makes them easy to transport as well as carry in your shopping bag.
The idea behind my work is based on the imperfect, the Wabi-Sabi, the slightly wonky, the incomplete as well as seeing the extraordinary within the ordinary. These ideas are something that is based and explored in my own art practice. I try to make each object as individual as possible, creating its own characteristic. The candle holders are a really good example of this, the actual process off making these, produces an object that will never be identical to another. In this respect, I see each object as a small piece of sculpture and that is what I want to offer the buyer, a totally unique, handmade product.
You were recently in the Top Drawer trade show with UAL; what was that experience like?
Top Drawer was a really great opportunity to test the products, meet buyers and experience their responses, and the feedback was amazing! From the actual show, I got about 6 orders straight away. I also had some very big name buyers interested in my work but it has not yet come to fruition, needless to say, COVID-19 has put a lot on hold, not just for me, but for a majority of artist and makers.
The support from UAL in the build-up to the actual Top Drawer event was really great, consisting of pre-meetings, preparations and talks. The group of people that were chosen and participated was a great mix of talent, as well as fantastic individuals.
You are also involved in the Enterprising Alumni Association committee - how did that come about and how have you found that experience (so far)?
I was contacted by Maria after the show and asked if I was interested in volunteering with the Enterprising Alumni Association committee. Even though I had a lot on my plate I thought it would be a great thing to get involved in.
My role, so far, has been to connect with alumni, as well as current students, before a lecture and that has been really interesting. Realising there are lots of alumni out there who want to make contact and keep the connection. The lectures I have attended has been inspiring, interesting and I have left with a little more knowledge then I had before.
What are your plans for the future?
I am trying to stay positive for the future in the current situation, and hoping people may start buying things that are handmade instead of buying something that is generic and mass-produced. Maybe now when we have to spend more time in our own homes, we might start looking at the things we surround ourselves with and make choices that we didn’t think about before.
A lot of Markets started going online and I am just about to start and see how this can develop. I trade with, among others, Hemingway Design, Crafty Fox and Handmade in Highgate, and hopefully, this can be an outlet until we can go back and trade.
I am also 1 of a few hand-picked makers for a new platform called Vigour & Skills, which I am very excited about. They are investing a lot into all of the makers where the emphasis is on the actual process and skills of making. Showing behind the scene, explaining the thought and time that goes into making a product. There will be some products to buy straight away, but the idea behind is that buyers will ‘commission’ a product and have to wait for it to be made, which can take up to a month for products I make. I was lucky enough to be filmed before the lockdown, and there is a clip of me on YouTube. They have not launched yet, but hopefully soon.
Other things for the future is to reconnect with a lot of people that the COVID-19 vacuum has created as well as website update/maintenance. I am also looking to collaborate with like-minded makers, which I think is a direct result of the COVID-19 situation.