Loucinda Nims, craft&design Prize at New Designers 2014

by Rachael Chambers

Loucinda Nims
Winner of the craft&design Associate Prize
at New Designers 2014, Part 1

Interviewing Loucinda Nims just a few days after a very successful New Designers, it seems that the reality of winning the craft&design award as well as the ‘Design in Silver’ award from Contemporary British Silversmiths is only just beginning to sink in.
"I was completely shocked when I won the award, I wasn’t expecting it at all,” enthuses Loucinda.   
“I really enjoyed my experience of exhibiting at New Designers, I didn’t really know what to expect. But it helped me to become more confident about talking about my work, and it was really interesting to get feedback from people who have never seen my work before. I also loved seeing what other people had created, I couldn’t believe how much young talent there was under one roof.”
Loucinda has just completed a 3D Contemporary Crafts and Products - Ceramics, Glass, Metalwork & Jewellery Degree at Buckinghamshire University, gaining a First.
“I chose to undertake a degree because of my love of making. Throughout school I always loved art, design and textiles, and at weekends I was often in my father’s engineering workshop making things out of whatever I could get my hands on. When my Art and Design foundation teacher recommended a mixed material course to me it seemed perfect and allowed me to experiment and make in a range of different materials.”
“Over my three years of study I have discovered that although I love designing for a range of materials, my main love for making is in metal, in particular silver I feel I have been able to grow as a designer maker and have a lot more confidence in my design skills and myself.
“I particularly enjoyed working for live briefs as I really enjoyed the challenge of designing to certain limitations such as price, inspiration and materials.  I also quickly discovered my love for creating functional objects; creating something which is not only beautiful to look at, but also enjoyable to use and handle.”
Loucinda’s work aims to raise the appreciation of everyday objects by creating beautifully handcrafted adornments for the table. By adding an element of preciousness through the reference of jewellery, Loucinda questions how we value familiar objects.
“Preciousness and value should not be based on material hierarchy,” she comments. “Instead it should be based on personal connections and memory associations. I believe that everyday objects such as tableware can be a catalyst for something precious. These objects become central to special social occasions, rituals and sharing. I intend to question the meaning of value and take the perception of preciousness beyond material worth.”
While Loucinda believes value and worth lie beyond the material worth, the cost for students working in this medium, and with other precious materials, poses a real financial burden, a hurdle that she has overcome through careful planning  and clever design ideas.
“The cost of using silver whilst at university was a struggle and some of my pieces were silver plated,” she explains.“I feel it is important to have a clear idea of what you want to create before you start; I always experiment with other materials first, whether it be paper or copper. And in the case of my sushi tray, less was more, all the components are quite small and simple in form, but I feel that together they speak quite loudly. It’s about finding what’s appropriate for the design and considering whether other people will be willing to pay for it.  Of course quality is also important, it doesn’t matter what the cost of the material is, if it’s not made well, then people won’t want it.”
Loucinda is passionate about working with silver and has a wonderful affinity with it. High quality craftsmanship and beautifully precise designs tailored with stunning simplicity make her work both fit for purpose and widely admired.
“Silver is a beautiful material and is clean to work with in comparison to other metals. I love everything about it, the way it looks and feels. I like how you have to be firm with it, in order for it to do what you want, but at the same time it has a fragility and can easily be damaged or melted. It’s about finding a balance. It’s also very versatile, like any metal there is so much you can do with it.”
Talking to Loucinda at New Designers about her skills and designs, it was the story behind each piece that really struck a chord with me, as each one has been carefully thought out and crafted to the highest of standards.
“My Caviar Bowl – ‘Diamond in the Rough’, consists of a large, shallow, planished bowl that would contain ice and has a small cone shape inset into the bowl, which is where the smaller bowl, inspired by a faceted round cut stone such as a diamond, can sit containing caviar. The inside of the small bowl is gold plated and a mother of pearl spoon allows the caviar to be served. I feel that this piece could be a centrepiece for special occasions and a real talking point. The fact the smaller bowl sits nicely in the hand and can be picked up and passed around also encourages social interaction.”
“The Sushi set consists of a Corian thermoformed tray, silver chopsticks with gold plated tips, a silver jug for soy sauce which is gold plated inside, two small silver pots for wasabi and ginger, again gold plated inside and a small gold plated silver scoop for serving. It was the small details within the set that I felt were significant in bringing it all together and creating a preciousness that you would usually find in jewellery. I really loved combining silver and Corian. I have never used Corian before so it was a process of trial and error, but I am really pleased with the outcome. My personal love for sushi was the starting point for this. I like how it could be used for an intimate occasion between two, or placed in the centre of a table and used as a serving plate for a larger crowd.”
With New Designers behind her, Loucinda was next heading off to Oxfordshire to help out on the Contemporary British Silversmiths stand at Art in Action before spending a year continuing her learning at Bishopsland.
“I have been to Art in Action every year for the past three years,” says Loucinda. “It has been really inspirational for me seeing so many different, talented artists. It has a really great atmosphere. After becoming a member of the Contemporary British Silversmiths I was emailed about the chance to help out at Art in Action and was really enthused. I am looking forward to meeting like-minded people and being able to talk to more developed silversmiths and designer makers, as well as talking to the public about a material I am passionate about. I feel that, like New Designers, this is great practice for my future career.
“In October I will be starting a postgraduate course at Bishopsland, which specialises in silversmithing and jewellery. It’s a good bridge between finishing university and setting up my own business. This will help me further my making skills and develop myself as a designer maker. No doubt throughout the summer I will be back in my dad’s workshop experimenting and making.”
Loucinda has a promising future ahead of her and hopes one day to be designing for Alessi or taking on a commission for the V&A.
“I really love the design company Alessi, so it would be my absolute dream to work with them creating a product or range. I would also love to do a commission for the Victoria and Albert Museum as it is full of work from talented craftsmen and women throughout history and I aspire to be one of them.  The V&A is often my first point of call for inspiration and I hope that I can inspire others.”
Perhaps in a few years time I could be interviewing Loucinda again, to talk about the pieces she has on display in the V&A, who knows?


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