by Paul deBretton Gordon
THE DESIGN STORY OF THE SIGNATURE UTENSILS
As Design Director at Robert Welch Designs, I delight in the challenge to create useful pieces for your home. Items which become part of your daily routine and an extension of your family life.
I thought you might be interested to learn of the design process behind a project that produced one of my favourite outcomes:
Kitchen utensils are tools; conventional and utilitarian. Functionally, these items have to be designed to turn over or lift food, to stir, strain and serve, as well as not to get hot and burn the chef. However, I wanted to bring more to this fundamental part of our everyday life. Imbue them with the aesthetics and weight of cutlery – bringing the style of the dining table into the kitchen.
Looking at cutlery for inspiration, 18/10 stainless steel was chosen for it beauty and strength and the handles bore more than a passing resemblance to the shape, curves and form of table spoons and forks. By scaling this up, the ergonomic crossover was evident.
Robert Welch MBE, RDI created several sets of traditional serving utensils, many of which were very popular in mass catering but, as these were to be designed for the home I didn’t want to compromise the look by adding a hole for hanging in the back of the handle. The solution was to create a hook on the back.
This decision added to the complexity and cost of the pieces, but it was a price worth paying. The hook has a double function, it suspends the utensils on a wall rack as well as adding stability when laid on a work surface or on the table.
To provide another storage option to the wall mounted rack, we decided to create a counter top stand. This provides agile storage; a hub that can be moved, bringing the tools to where you need them. To save space on the counter top I looked at mounting the pieces around a central column, and as part of the development stage I hung some utensils from one of our newly designed candlesticks, the theory worked!
By increasing the disc diameter on the top I was able to provide sufficient space to comfortably hang 5 utensils. This led to the realisation that a weight would be required in the base to ensure the stability of the stand, providing a counter-balance whether one utensil was hanging from it or all five.
In a true case of ‘form follows function’ the number of utensils hanging from the top dictated its size and the additional weight in the base. For extra stability the base had to be wider, and thus the waisted “hour-glass” shape was born.
Reflecting back on a design journey like this one provides an opportunity to take stock of the process of designing. It can be a bit like the flair of cookery itself; you start out with an idea and with serendipity and imagination a project can sometimes lead you somewhere unexpected.
Pass the big spoon!