As part of Sean O'Connell's Kettles now on in Object Space, ADC's Communications Producer Laura Wesolowski asked Sean three quick-fire questions to find out what inspires him as a designer maker.

What do you make?

"I have hand-made several water kettles out of stainless steel for Object Space. They are made for everyday use, though some are pretty wonky and require a little extra thought to use! The shapes are laboriously formed from stainless steel sheet, hammered and welded together, slowly smoothed out with files and sandpaper, and shined up with endless polishing. Some handles are made from wrapped leather, and now I’m making wooden handles using reclaimed endemic Tasmanian timbers from where I live. I have worked with metal for many years, making contemporary jewellery for the past two decades, winning awards here and abroad. I also have a more abstract practice working with alternative photography, sound, and experiments into material and energy."

Kettles, 2023. Photo: Amy Piddington.

Sean O'Connell, Kettles, 2023. Photo: Amy Piddington.

Why do you make what you make?

"I make these kettles because I love working with metal in direct ways. It is demanding and engaging. I am constantly amazed how the forms come about and change all by themselves, as though the steel has its own ideas - we start going somewhere and end up somewhere else. It’s a very different way of making to the very prescribed processes I use to create my jewellery, where I design something and follow the plan. I have to say, it’s much more fun!

Another reason I make these kettles is because I think simple things, like boiling water for morning coffee, should be cherished. It helps centre our lives in the here and now, and really appreciate the mundane everyday acts. I'd like to think that these kettles, with their simple joyous forms and shiny reflective surfaces, act as a kind of pivot and anchor for the day, helping to bring things into perspective, and maybe even make life a little sweeter. I know - it's a lot to ask of a kettle!"

Kettles, 2023. Photo: Amy Piddington.

Sean O'Connell, Kettles, 2023. Photo: Amy Piddington.

What inspires you?

"Nature inspires me above everything, from the branching of trees and wallaby ears to the movement of clouds or water flowing around rocks. The sub-alpine Tasmanian landscape where I live is very inspiring - I find an almost religious sense of awe here, especially out on the open plateau. I am also inspired by other makers, and by my teachers and mentors who have shared their knowledge with me. In general I am inspired by people being creative and making stuff - engaging with materials, trying out what is in their head and heart, learning the language of creating. In a strange way, the very act of making is itself an inspiration. It feeds itself – it’s addictive and never-ending."

Kettles, 2023. Photo: Amy Piddington.

Sean O'Connell, Kettles, 2023, 2024 Photo: Amy Piddington.

Thanks Sean!

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