Meet The Maker: Patrick Morris, Boskke
Hi Patrick, tell us about your discipline and where you are based?
I’m Patrick Morris, a product designer based in London Bridge, London.
What's your pelican story - what inspired you to start making?
I grew up on a pottery in New Zealand. My father was a potter and my mother is an architect, so from an early age I was surrounded by flowerpots and spent all of my summer jobs through school working in the pottery. But these were jobs. It wasn’t until one summer holiday in the far north of New Zealand when I built a treehouse on a beautiful spot looking across the bay that I was truly empowered by what my hands could make. I became passionate about fine art and, particularly, sculpture which I went on to study after school. It wasn’t until later that I undertook an apprenticeship at Dartington Pottery then trained in ceramic design at Central Saint Martins and later product design at the Royal College of Art that I found myself (quite by accident) a second-generation flowerpot maker.
As a maker, do you have any questions you ask yourself before making a new piece or launching a new line?
It is important to me that whatever I make has, at it’s heart, a useful function. Material is also very important and, where products are lower cost and have a shorter lifespan, the re-use ability of material is critical. It is a given now, that sustainability should be at the top of any designer’s list of priorities, but also that whatever we make should at least aspire to be aesthetically pleasing – people are going to have to live with them! Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles of Good Design and William Morris’ assertion that you should “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” are, for me, pretty good guiding principles to follow.
Which direction do you see yourself going in the future?
I am really excited about some of the projects we have on the table at the moment. We are working increasingly closely with large growers and the technical challenges they face providing and delivering edible and non-edible plants for our modern cities are pushing Boskke to develop some meaningful innovations which will translate into our future flowerpot lines. At the other end of what we make, we are now working with craftsmen whose skill with metal, ceramics and other beautiful materials means we can really explore new ideas with long product life in mind, along with the challenges that longevity poses – how to design something which will still be beautiful and current in 20, 40, even 60 years time.
What are the ingredients for great design and what's really exciting you at the moment in design?
For me, modernist principles are still at the heart of great design, but relaxed enough to allow for playfulness and emotion. We are at a point when many cultural and technological oceans are meeting and where they meet, there is energy and chaos but also the opportunity for creativity. The role of the designer is to imagine what might come next and to start to investigate these intersections through making. What can we create if when you combine ocean plastic with running? Micro-living with food? Artificial intelligence with Romanticism? Mars colonisation with gardening? Being able to write one’s own brief is a great skill to develop.
Who inspires you creatively outside of homewares and design?
I arguably spend too little time focused on homewares and design, in part consciously as I feel my contribution will be fresher if I am not feeding my ideas from the same well that I intend to contribute to. I look to fine art, particularly sculpture for inspiration (Brancusi is very obviously present in our new TOTEMS!) I love research and if something takes my interest I can be impulsive and will think nothing of traveling for a day to go and see something: while at the RCA I was looking into forgotten crafts of England and came across images of a Victorian Jet workshop discovered in an attic in Whitby, Yorkshire. The same day I called the jeweller who was preserving the workshop and drove for five hours to meet him. We spent a whole afternoon and the following morning talking about Whitby Jet as a craft, Jet as a material and Whitby Jet as a Victorian industry. I left for London the following afternoon thoroughly inspired and from this impulsive visit developed a project involving additive manufacturing and biomedical implants.
If you weren't a maker, what would you be doing?
In another life I think I might have been a sculptor or an architect. Otherwise my childhood dream was to live on a beach shaping surfboards and surfing when the waves were good. Maybe I’ll do that next :)
Favourite cities, places or people for inspiration?
London, Paris, Copenhagen and all of the major centres are very special. I spend increasing amounts of time in Lyon (visiting my little niece) which is a delightful city and feels just the right size for me. I love visiting the factories and craftsmen we work with and am awed by the specialist knowledge and skill they have. And of course, Nature. My downtime is often spent hiking, which is the perfect way to simplify life and to enjoy the outdoors. No designer will be quite as amazing as Mother Nature – we have to look after her.
Can’t live without…
Tea and coffee.
Should live without…
Netflix and chocolate.
Any final words?
Get up early and beat the world to the day; 5am is a wonderful time to think and be peaceful.