Making it as a creative

Design store and innovation incubator Atelier100 gives London‑based creatives the space, support and opportunities to make incredible products. Here, we meet four of them.

ANDU MASEBO

‘I've always been fairly practical and had an interest in the way things are made,’ product designer Andu Masebo says. ‘So it was quite natural that I got into carpentry and metalwork.’ For Atelier100, Andu has designed a chair informed by the production of custom‑made car exhausts.
Q. How did you learn the business skills to make a living from your creativity?
A. ‘I'm still figuring it out. There's always been a freelance culture and community in London. Your friendship group becomes your security network and career counsellors pretty quickly. Like most freelancers, I've had to teach myself the ropes, spinning lots of plates in order to survive. It turns out that a fair number of those experiences have gone on to inform my work.’
Q. What's your dream project?
A. ‘IKEA has always been it for me. It's the apex of democratic design – allowing people to take control of their own space [and] fashion it to fit their tastes. Great design for a reasonable price is something I aspire towards, so it's a dream to be involved with Atelier100's programme.’ @andumasebo

NINA JUA KLEIN

Designer and creative director Nina Jua Klein recently founded Co, a collection of objects that consist of two or more parts that rely on each other to be functional. For Atelier100, Nina is creating a candle holder made of modular parts called Co1.
Q. How would you describe what you do?
A. ‘I've spent much of my career designing exhibitions, books and visual identities: activities that are generally defined as graphic design. It's a discipline that's often also referred to as “2D design”, which is a classification I despise – exhibition graphics, a book, even a poster are anything but two-dimensional. They usually manifest as tactile, tangible objects that require an in-depth understanding of space, materiality and colour. I recently started “making” objects in the more traditional sense of the word, but I prefer not to make distinctions. My thinking and process always follow the same approach, regardless [of whether] the final output is a poster or a candle holder.’
Q. What's it like producing creative work in London?
A. ‘London is fast-paced, expensive [and] competitive. This can be a challenge, but it's also a driving force.’ @ninajuaklein

JAMES O'BRIEN

James is a potato-printing illustrator (‘niche, I know’, he says) who's focused on creating ‘bright and funny observations of animals, people, food and the world around me’.
Q. What product idea are you working on for Atelier100?
A. ‘I'm working on an upcycling project – potato-printing illustrations of famous food dishes onto secondhand dinner plates. The plates will be sourced from charity shops, flea markets and thrift stores along the whole length of the Victoria [Underground] line. Each plate will be potato-printed with illustrations inspired by food dishes known to that area.’
Q. What three people, designers or brands inspire you right now?
A. ‘I love [artist and designer] Yinka Ilori's use of bold colours; they just scream good vibes. Richard Todd is a comedian and illustrator whose work is beautifully observed, silly and clever all at the same time. And [food writer and activist] Jack Monroe is an inspiration – the bootstrap cook provides so many incredible recipes and resources that are vital to families adjusting to the cost-of-living crisis.’ @potatoprinter

EMMELY ELGERSMA

Emmely Elgersma is a sculptor, ceramicist and football coach based in London. For Atelier100, Emmely is creating 50 papier-mâché lamps for the Atelier100 concept store.
Q. How did you get started?
A. ‘After graduating from Central St Martins, where I studied textile design, I felt lost as I didn't really enjoy print designing. So I spent a year doing evening classes [and] fell in love with sculpture and clay, but felt restricted with ceramics as the process is so long and unpredictable. A friend suggested papier-mâché – you can go big and be more playful as it's a cheap material to use. Back then I only knew it as that thing you did when you were a child with a balloon. Six years later and I'm still obsessed.’
Q. Is the business aspect of your practice something you've had to teach yourself?
A. ‘I didn't learn [it] through university. I've had to learn as I go. Atelier100 has given me access to a creative accountant, which is fantastic, as we're working through all the boring bits that I just wouldn't know where to start with, like setting up a business account.’
Q. What's your ideal commission?
A. ‘I'm lucky to have received some really exciting commissions, like a 14ft shark for a brewery and a series of lamps for a football club. I'd be delighted if these sorts of projects kept coming. I wouldn't turn down a sculpture for the Fourth Plinth [in Trafalgar Square], either.’ @emmely

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