Featured Designer: Hayden Youlley Design

FK talks to Hayden about his ceramic label Hayden Youlley Design, which will be debuting at the upcoming Sydney Markets!

Tell us a bit about Hayden Youlley Design and what products we can expect to discover?
Hayden Youlley Design is the business that has grown out of what I loved doing at uni – designing and making beautiful, functional handmade objects. The business technically consists of only myself, but really, I have a wonderful support team of family and friends that help with website development, copy writing, editing, marketing, photography, etc. (you all know who you are, and thank you if you’re reading this!)
As for what you can expect to discover, I’ll be selling a tableware series called ‘Paper’ I developed in 2011 at the Sydney Finders Keepers. It started as an idea that got me to get back into the studio during my summer break, and turned into a 10 month ordeal of trial and error that finally produced a series of tableware that uses the simple creased paper form, cast by hand in porcelain. I have developed some other products that you can check out on my website.

What is your background and how did you get started working with ceramics?
I recently finished my Bachelor design degree from the College of Fine Arts, UNSW. I picked ceramics as one of my majors in second year. Once I started working with clay, I realised straight away that it appealed to me in many ways. It appeals to my sense of independence as a designer. It’s the only medium I have found that I can use to design, prototype, realise and manufacture everything myself. I’ve found that the process of designing, prototyping and producing ceramics, both sculptural and functional, has the right mix of instant satisfaction, challenge, surprise, problem solving, reliability, repairability, skill, and beauty to keep me interested in exploring all its possibilities. That’s the fanciest way I have found to say that it is a really fun and rewarding way to get your hands dirty.

Which other ceramic labels do you love? And what inspires you?
The biggest international label that I love would be the Rosenthal studio-line designer giftware. But there are also so many small Australian labels and ceramic makers that I admire. A few examples are Little White Dish by Deb Taylor, Kris Coad’s beautiful hand thrown tableware, Cath Fogarty’s amazing work, Szilvia Gyorgy’s beautiful hand thrown lamps and tableware and MUD Australia’s colourful range of porcelain tableware.
I generally take inspiration from things that are not typically considered beautiful – things like scrunched up paper and broken glass. Interesting textures and shapes can be found in the most mundane and overlooked places if you know what you’re looking for.

What is your creative workspace like, and what inspires you about your surroundings?
I was very lucky to fall into a resident spot in a wonderful studio at the Blockhouse on UNSW’s Kensington campus. I am one of four residents at the studio, which is also open to the public. Being in an environment where there’s a constant flow of new creativity is the most inspirational part of being at the Blockhouse. Being able to bounce ideas around with talented people is a rare gift to an emerging designer and business person, and I’m very grateful for it.

What do you love about working with porcelain? And what are some of the challenges?
I love the end product. Porcelain is a beautiful material when glazed and fired. It is clean, elegant, translucent and looks amazing glazed or unglazed. It has a beautiful contrast of colour and texture between glazed and unglazed areas on a piece of work. Porcelain vitrifies at high firing temperatures, which produces a sealed surface that doesn’t require glaze to maintain functionality.
Most importantly for me, porcelain has an exceptional capacity for mimicry. With the right techniques and preparation porcelain, can recreate just about any texture you can throw at it with exceptional accuracy.
There are many challenges to working with porcelain. I think one of the hardest aspects about it is its vulnerability to warping in the kiln. Discovering a warped piece after firing can be so frustrating!

What new projects are you working on and where would you like to see Hayden Youlley Design in the future?
I am working on a few collaborations with other designers, both emerging and established. In terms of new products I’m working on expanding the Paper Series, developing some new plant pots specifically designed for fresh herbs around the kitchen and some stackable and tessellating geometric tableware, but I don’t want to give too much away.
I’d love for Hayden Youlley Design to keep growing and to become a sustainable business. Working for myself in the design industry has proved more rewarding than I thought possible.


Leave a comment