Alexander Lamont | The Designer

About the designer

I feel that I have lived two lifetimes caught up in the decorative arts. The first encompasses my childhood years in England, and the second the almost twenty years that I have lived in Asia. At the age of four my father started a family business that brought a world of colour, smell, texture and form into my life. Crates filled with folkart, antiques and handicrafts made from strange and beautiful materials journeyed from across Asia, Africa and Latin America to the small English village where I grew up.

The things I create today are rooted in that experience of travel, smell and touch. They are made with materials that are worked by hand, that have a story to their process and an energy to their surface. I do not sit down to ‘design products’. Ideas emerge from the meeting of my experiences and the materials themselves.

When I was nine years old I came on my first trip to Thailand. I followed my father to rattan factories thick with the smell of peeled, steamed and burnt rattan. Teak workshops where the air was full of the oily dryness unique to that ancient building material of Southeast Asia. And in those days there was lacquer; a pungent treacle that requires heat and humidity to dry. Such visceral, pleasurable experiences never fade but live on in the body and mind as golden memories.

When I returned to Thailand in 2000 to start my business one of the first craftsmen I worked with was a bronze caster, a master of the lost wax method. For generations his family had modeled in clay and then caste in bronze Buddha images for temples in Chiangmai. Together we made the first piece: a bronze bowl encrusted with the coils that cover the head of the Buddha.

There was something monumental and primordial about the mass of bronze that flowed to make this vessel – the elemental coils of “Buddha hair” that covered the form elevated a simple bowl to sculpture. The result, once cooled from the open fire that created the patina, was something much more beautiful than I had imagined when I first conceived of this idea, and it was the direct result of my working through the hands of the Chiangmai artist.

My hours with the bronze caster began the enterprizes in which I now have the privilege everyday of working with craftspeople in a rich variety of materials and skills. It is through these varied relationships that the pieces are born. Sometimes the experience of making things seems a search back in time to the great material traditions. Sometimes it seems like a search for my own childhood.

Alexander Lamont