At the beginning of 2019, we had just completed some large collaborations and were determined to refocus our energy into exploring new designs, materials and manufacturing processes that we’d previously had to put on hold. This journey took us on travels across the UK, Germany, Japan and Portugal and quickly resulted in a range of new creations; We now sold out the ebonite collection, a range of precision machined precious metal editions and a full overhaul of our packaging to name a few.
However, amongst all of the new creations we had also taken on an additional challenge; To minimise the impact from our entire production process and find ways to add value and repurpose previously non-reclaimable waste materials.
Fueled by the prospects of this adventure we began seeking out potential partners to work with who were masters at their craft. It didn’t take long for us to uncover some incredible makers close to home and we quickly made contact with Olivia Aspinall Studio in Nottingham. Olivia Aspinall is a surface and product design studio that specialises in bespoke terrazzo and surface design. Olivia founded the studio in 2015 after completing a degree in textile design at Central Saint Martins and specialises in translating ideas through colour and pattern experimentation.
After a couple of phone conversations and emails, we had the basis of an interesting project and packed up three boxes of mixed swarf and waste material, and headed down to Nottingham.
Working alongside Olivia and Hannah our project centred around creating a beautiful desk item that would complement the pen. Initially, we experimented and tested a variety of waste materials including; silver & metal offcuts, cork pieces from our packaging and ebonite along with various ratios of resins. Along with these tests, we also explored various techniques to create forms to understand how the material would respond.
As Olivia and Hannah tested the mixology of the material, we returned to our Manchester studio and began developing and prototyping a diverse range of desk items. We’d relay our thoughts and ideas with Olivia and Hannah, creating models on our 3D printing machine and shipping models through the post for them to examine and test. After a number of attempts, we realised that the most effective approach was to produce a sheet material using only the ebonite swarf. One cast of this sheet material could cut using a CNC router as it would enable us to achieve a high level of accuracy and minimise the complexity of production.
The process of creating our new material is very similar to casting regular terrazzo. The ebonite is combined with a gypsum resin base and cast into a mould to make a panel. Once set the panel can then be cut and sanded into an array of shapes. The limitation of this process is in the thickness of the sheet, however, for the desk rests that we had designed this was the perfect solution.
Making a unique material is one thing, however as found out, finding someone to machine an unfamiliar material is a whole different matter. This is when we called on the skills and knowledge of Lazerian Studio. Lazerian is a multidisciplinary creative studio founded in 2006 by Liam Hopkins. Based out of a former hat factory in Denton, Manchester he creates large scale artworks, public art installations, bespoke sculptural commissions, interiors, custom made furniture and brand promotional objects. Most importantly Liam is renowned for his commitment to combining traditional handcraft techniques with cutting edge technologies.
Collaborating with Lazarian we fine-tuned our design and layout to take full advantage of the precision machining technology he uses and his vast design experience. After a couple of test runs using some prototype tiles sent over from Olivia, we went straight for it, with fingers and toes crossed it cut without error.
Once machined the pieces were returned to Nottingham for hand-finished and waxing. The final step was the addition of a naturally vegetable-tanned leather base, attached at our own studio workshop and placing each rest in its bespoke limited edition box.
For this limited edition we have produced two distinctive designs from the material which are limited to fifty pieces each. The rests provide the perfect place to sit your pen while you prepare to make your next mark.
The AJOTO x OLIVIA ASPINALL STUDIO pen rest collection in collaboration with Lazarian is now available from our AJOTO online shop and select retailers worldwide. The pen rests are available in two designs and limited to 50 pieces in each version.