Blake Griffiths is a textile designer and art educator with interests in social issues. His woven work 'Carry On Carrying On' was included in the exhibition Designing Bright Futures: Selected Graduates from UNSW Art & Design. Blake's work contrasts natural and synthetic materials. He makes objects that ask questions about functionality.
As a result of being spotted in the Design Bright Futures exhibition by a London design group, Blake has been invited to participate in Milan Design Week 2017.
We had a quick catch up with Blake to see what he is planning next. Read below.
What do you make?
I make designed objects that help us to be critical of issues, rather than provide functional, direct solutions. However, I do see questioning and conversation as a functional and direct way to find solutions and I try to represent this through woven forms.
What would you like to best known for in the future?
I would like to be known for making things that look like they do something, but actually do not. I'd like to be known for making things that, by not doing anything, are actually doing something. I'd like to be known for advocating the importance of art and design across all vocations and how creative, critical and design thinking can help us on a trajectory of progression.
I would also like to be known for assisting the self determination of artisans around the world. To assist people who have capacity to make things yet lack design and creative thinking to innovate new products would be an honour. These makers created the history we constantly reference and designing with crafts people and artisans excites me.
What are you making now?
I am currently working on two projects. The first is a development of my graduation project for Milan Design Week. I am excited to be exhibiting with Form and Seek and a range of designers from over the world. The theme of the exhibition is The Age of Man and I am thinking a lot about what humans will leave behind; what will the cultural objects of the future museum look like?
The second project I am working on is a collaboration with the Craft Resource Centre in Kolkata, India. I am working with Ikat weavers in Hyderabad to innovate and design products to make use of surplus fabric. Government emporiums buy excess product to provide an income for weavers, yet this decreases self determination of the artisans when they see their product go straight to a life in storage. We will repossess this fabric and make products that celebrate the intricacy of the Ikat technique. I am planning an exhibition to accompany this process.
What inspires you?
I am really inspired by how people interact. I see a big connection between the structure of conversation and the structure of the woven form. I see the warp and weft of the fabric interacting in the same way two humans do in say, a debate. This is how and why I believe my objects contribute to the conversation of solving the social issues that face us.
I am inspired by used and worn fabrics in this same way. We are intrinsically attached to textiles we find comfortable and comforting and I constantly wonder if I can emulate this attachment while addressing hairy or taboo subjects.
I find vast expanse very inspiring and a necessity of my work. I find it very difficult to work in small spaces. My inner minimalist dreams of a big empty studio with one huge bench to work on. Unfortunately I inherited the genes of a hoarder.
How can design help to create a better future for Australians?
Design and designers can help to create a better future because we are the best at asking questions. I believe that asking smart questions sparks betterment. We are the people that can be critical in times where no one is. I hope to see designers playing a bigger part of project management in government and local councils. Imagine if the George Street Tram tender was awarded to a designer instead of an engineering team. Imagine what our school curriculum would look like when designed by designers. Imagine if designers reevaluated the medicare offices. It is an exciting time to design!
Read more about the exhibition Designing Bright Futures: Selected Graduates of UNSW Art & Design here.
Images: Blake Griffiths, Carry On Carrying On 2016. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist. Blake Griffiths at the opening of Designing Bright Futures: Selected Graduates of UNSW Art & Design Dec 2016. Photo: Vincent Buret.