Modularity and craft are at the heart of the work of designer maker Soyida Akhtar. Graduated from the 3D Designer Make course at Staffordshire University, where she focused on working with ceramics to explore different design ideas, Akhtar’s designs have a distinctly contemporary aesthetic, yet they are rooted in a craft tradition that she pushes to experimental extremes.
A desire to design, make and be hands-on is what led her to her chosen course, and through her work, she explains, she explores ideas through different techniques, using a variety within each project. Her current focus is lighting, resulting in objects that employ a range of craft practices and processes with a strong contemporary aesthetic.
‘Module’ table lamp by Soyida Akhtar
This lighting project began with an observation of domestic interiors and use of lighting in space; Akhtar considered colour palettes, the role of light on an environment, users’ self-expression and existing modular designs. The resulting ‘Module’ table lamp was created as part of an initiative called ‘Design Creators’ in collaboration with Wedgwood.
For her design, Akhtar researched both historical Wedgwood teapot design and contemporary lighting, at the same time exploring the potential of stackable shapes. The result of her work features soft-edged ceramic modules connected by a brass cylinder, a connecting part with the double function of concealing the wireless LED light source and allowing the components to stack vertically. The wireless light can be recharged via a USB port.
Anglepoise lighting project
Another lighting design exercise by Akhtar takes the soft ceramic forms of her ‘Module’ lighting and adds the extra functionality of a task light. Titled ‘21’ Abandon Darkness’, the project was inspired by Anglepoise lamps’ ‘ability to illuminate and demarcate, something we have all needed help with this past year, as work, study and leisure have all bled into one’. With her design, Akhtar reimagines the classic British lighting design with a contemporary twist.
Design, observes Akhtar, ‘made me think in a methodical and rational way. It also stimulated my thinking and got the cogs spinning – I love it when that happens, and I like the practical side. In the past year I've come to appreciate “thinking through making”.
‘As a designer maker I love to design interior products for the home that add character and personality to a space, while also elevating a user's experience with designed objects.’
Dream collaborators: Lee Broom, Hay, Doshi Levien.
Our Next Generation showcase of outstanding new talents appears in the January 2022 issue of Wallpaper* (W*273). Subscribe today!
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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.
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