Graduate Interview: Ceri Stephenson

Graduate Interview: Ceri Stephenson

It was while studying for a foundation level course at Leeds College of Art & Design that Ceri Stephenson discovered her passion for the interior surface design sector. Several years on, Surfacing catches up with Ceri, now a graduate of Bucks New University, to find out more about her work and creative inspirations.

Could you tell us a little more about your background in design, and what you’ve been up to since graduating?

My education in design only started when I attended a foundation course in Art & Design at Leeds College of Art & Design. I had studied Textiles at GCSE and A Level, but had little understanding of the wider world of design and the different specialisms which it contains. I discovered my interest in interior surface design whilst on the foundation course, and so decided to further my education by studying Textiles & Surface Design at Bucks New University.

Since leaving university in May 2012, I have exhibited at a few shows in London and Birmingham, been selected as a finalist for the New Design Britain Awards 2013 and have attended a two month work placement at OnDesign – a product design company in Rome.
I am currently working in a studio in London for a company called Rima & McRae, which designs and makes bespoke decorative surfaces by hand.

How would you describe your creative process?

My work is very much process led, experimenting with different materials such as wood, metal and various pigments, to develop different techniques.

The outcome of my surface is also greatly influenced by its final use and given environment, allowing me to create designs which are practical as well as playful.

Could you tell us a little more about your work?

For my recent graduate project, I created a heat-reactive flooring designed to work with underfloor heating. My aim was to design and make a surface which would make the floor a statement in the home.

I also wanted to work with the environmentally-friendly aspect of underfloor heating, by making people more aware of their energy consumption. With these factors in mind, I designed a flooring which gradually reveals a pattern as the floor heats up and disappears again as the surface cools. I have also developed designs which change pattern at different temperatures.

What do you draw inspiration from?

I look at mundane surfaces in the public environment and think of ways I could enhance them. I also enjoy attending exhibitions to find interesting subjects, imagery and different media techniques, but especially installation works and how they interact with the audience.

Do you have any particular design inspirations?

My biggest design influence is Thomas Heatherwick. His designs are very clever, creating beautiful pieces which are also practical and playful. His work reminds me to work with and understand your material, and to challenge yourself to push things further, focusing on how to achieve something and not whether or not it can be achieved. I also love Andy Goldsworthy, who creates beautiful artworks which are all made working with the natural environment.

What would you say is your main aspiration?

Currently my aim is to simply enjoy the work that I do. I hope to continue to work with people from various specialisms, so that I can continue to learn and make new and exciting surface designs!