Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Visit to Lazerian, Manchester's CNC Wizards - Part 2

This post is proud to have been syndicated to the Ponoko blog.

continued from yesterday..

An atmosphere of relaxed experimentation, and play, is apparent in Lazerian's workshop - although Liam's collaborators Richard and Jason are silently engrossed in their making, the place is festooned with prototypes and work in progress, and there is a sense of productivity not being a chore, more of a happy coincidence.

[caption id="attachment_3880" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The guys at Lazerian: Richard, Jason and Liam"]The guys at Lazerian: Richard, Jason and Liam[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3881" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Making up some of Lazerian's handmade jewellery range"]Making up some of Lazerian's handmade jewellery range[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3882" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Some Lazerian jewellery in progress"]Some Lazerian jewellery in progress[/caption]

Jason is busy cutting polypropylene rings for bangles by hand. A seemingly laborious process, but apparently yielding much better results than the same process tried with the CNC - down to the rough edges from milling, as compared to the smoothness of a clean scalpel cut.

Lazerian sell a great deal online, through their custom designed website. About 70% of business comes from direct sales online and through selected outlets, and the rest from commissions. The day that I am there the team are busy preparing for 100% Design in London, featuring some of Richard's paper constructions on a grand scale. Curiously enough, I first encountered Richard years ago by happening across his Flickr site, showcasing his quite unbelievable aptitude with paper. Hopkins tells me that there is a good community of artists and designers in Manchester (he used to work in much closer proximity with such others but felt it more productive to be a bit more isolated!). He has no desire for the pull to London, and is very keen to keep production local in Britain, hence the studio's commitment to making as much in house as possible. It is admirable, and not an easy thing to achieve in isolation but something they clearly thrive on.

I was surprised by Lazerian - I think I expected them to be a bunch of tech-headed furniture makers, but what I found was an amicable bunch of makers concerned above all with physical experimentation. For Lazerian, the tools are a means to an end, their creative use of CNC coming out of completely separate, quite traditional design aims. Refreshing.

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