We love having an insight into the inspiration and process that has gone into creating our beautiful products - especially when they're as playful and eccentric as the collection from Mineheart. Founded in Cambridge in 2010, the name was inspired by the Shakespearean quote "Mine eye and heart..." to symbolise the founders' passions; a love for all things traditional with an eye for contemporary design - which Mineheart fuses seamlessly with their classic yet whimsical designs.
To get to the heart of the company, we chatted with Vanessa Battaglia and Brendan Young, the design duo behind the sometimes surreal but always mischievous design house, for our Meet the Makers series. Here they share their boundless passion for all things British, what feeds their creativity and what's coming next in 2016...
Where do you look / go to for inspiration when creating new designs?
"From everyday life really. We’re not conscious where the inspiration comes from, we have a lot of ideas that we suggest to each other and when we decide on a good one we take it forward. We try to surround ourselves with the moments of inspiration (museums etc) but we don’t purposefully try to find them."
Some of your designs are fabulously eccentric, do your makers sometimes have to reign in the wackiness to make the end product function?!
"It hasn’t happened yet! We really try to work and rework an idea until it works / is producible. If not, we put it on the back-burner until the right time. We can sometimes adjust the design to make things possible - it's all part of the process and how things evolve.
Originally we wanted the King Edison to be completely sealed at the base, so that the miniature chandelier was totally enclosed, but in the end we had to settle on the open base.
Practically sometimes has to take over!"
You strongly support British design and manufacture, was this always part of your business plan?
"Initially we wanted to use eco-materials and have all items UK made, but it was just too expensive. So, we stuck with the UK manufacture. It’s great to have items made close to us. Sure, it makes things more pricey, but it’s nice for us to support UK manufacture, and we can also produce in smaller numbers which allows us to test the market and get every element of the design right. Having a relationship with the makers is good, but sadly we’re finding it harder and harder to find artisans and more specialised skills in the UK."
Unfortunately, there are many copycats out there, how do you feel about imitation of your striking designs?
"It’s a reality of the design world, wherever you go there are copies. We see it happening to world-renowned designers such as Philippe Stark and Tom Dixon, it’s part of the job - we accept it and try not to get upset. We try to focus on our core values and creating new things. And it’s another reason to continue working with UK manufacturers."
What is your favourite piece from all of your designs? And what was the most popular piece?
Vanessa: "It was previously the Blue and Brown Persian Hide, but we’ve just launched a Japanese design rug that is now my favourite!"
Most Popular: "Our White shelves paper."
Brendan: "The King Edison Lamp in Gold."
What was your proudest design moment?
"In 2003 after we did our first trade show in Milan, the V&A museum invited us to do a talk and Roland Mouret was also there doing a talk alongside us. It was a really amazing moment and it felt so special."
Who is your favourite designer of all time (fashion, interiors or architecture)?
"Alexander McQueen, Philippe Stark and Marcel Wanders"
What’s coming up next for Mineheart in 2016?
New lighting and also furniture, more cabinets and consoles.
Theatre, opera, movies or ballet? Movies
Festival camping or Cotswold Spa? Cotswold Camping
Chocolate Fondu or Cheese Fondu? Cheese
Champagne or cocktails? Cocktails
What was the last blog you read? It was something by Tim Ferris
What was the last magazine you read? Kinfolk
What was the last TV series you watched? We don’t have TV