Paul Kelley is recognized as one of the UK’s most innovative designers. His beautiful furniture is also highly functional, and includes both bespoke and off-the shelf designs. He is well-known for thoughtfully employing materials that are traditionally not associated with handmade furniture at all–acrylic, aluminum, laminates, felt, concrete, and copper, among others. His use of copper, in particular, to create one-off and mass-produced design products, is most intriguing and is inspired by the unique properties and aging of copper.
Having worked with copper since 2003, the designer has expressed great appreciation for the forgiving, malleable nature of the material. The fact that copper is constantly changing–through its patination or oxidation–and that scratches, dents or other effects of its use or abuse only add to its character are a huge draw for the designer. The resiliency of copper, coupled with its inherent uniqueness in each and every deployment, made it the perfect choice for one of his first ‘mass-produced’ designs –Copper Cubes.
Copper Cubes is a modular design by Kelley, where a set of copper sheet-clad MDF forms self attach to each other using embedded signature magnetic connectors. The connectors allow all sides of each cube to connect to other, resulting in endless configurations and endless uses of these compositions. The combination of blocks can be used to create tables, stools, chairs, display stands, walls, bookcases or fused combinations of these. As the versatile set adapts to a user’s needs, and the flexible magnetic system generates new configurations, the copper surfaces age and incorporate beautiful imprints of their use.
The copper cubes–each 20cm x 20 cm x 20 cm in size–are available in two finishes– a natural un-lacquered finish or an oxidized black finish. The un-lacquered finish allows the copper to oxidize over time, each cube developing its own patina. The oxidized black finish, on the other hand, is acid-patinated by hand, creating a unique dark, black-green verdigris that would have naturally taken much longer to develop.
Kelley developed and first handmade the cubes in London when a client wasn’t sure if she needed one or three tables. The cubes became the perfect solution as one can pull them apart and reconfigure them as needed. An excellent video showing designer Paul Kelley playing with different configurations of the Copper Cubes, and describing his design motivations for the project can be seen here. Most recently, very large installations of the Copper Cubes were seen at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016 and 2017.
Twenty Twenty One
Designer’s website: www.pk-designs.co.uk/