Factory girl: art meets industry at Alice Made This
Alice Walsh’s studio is set in the unassuming confines of her Peckham back garden. It's where the ideas for her minimalist accessories line, Alice Made This take shape: ‘The studio was built by an artist who lived in the house before us,’ explains the 36-year-old, who works with a small team that includes her husband, Ed Walsh, who is also company director. ‘There’s an entire wall full of windows and another full of shelves – it’s big, light and very organised.’ The no-frills functionality of the space reflects the restrained aesthetic of a brand whose mission it is to revisit the best aspects of traditional British industry.
‘I love a factory,’ says Walsh, whose previous design roles at Tom Dixon and Conran saw her acquainted with factory floors across the world. Dixon, she says, instilled in her the value of knowing the process behind producing something before designing it. ‘People assume that if something is manufactured, it’s made quickly and easily,’ continues Walsh. ‘But the history of the industrial revolution is innovation. I want to tell the stories behind manufacturing that make you understand it’s not a cheap process – it’s skilled and historic.’
Gold necklace, pendants in brass
Alice Made This began in 2011 with a line of pared-back men’s pieces made in brass, steel and rhodium (materials that Walsh terms ‘the unsung heroes of industry’). The collection included cufflinks in engineered ceramic and lapel pins handwoven in marine chord by specialist rope makers. This cherry picking of industrial skills, which Walsh sees as ‘refining industry’, has now been applied to a new collection of pendant necklaces for women. Zips, rods and barrels are rendered in rose gold and silver in geometric forms. They look like precious machine parts – and in a way, they are: ‘The women’s collection involves an aerospace process at a factory that is usually used for parts for the insides of machines,’ says Walsh, who plans to extend the women's offering to include earrings and bracelets. ‘We’re simply taking that process and illustrating its beauty.’