To never change is to never seek or recognise new opportunities, and Lazerian’s tenth year is a good time to look at how the studio has changed with the world around it and what that means for the future. After opening the studio in the former hat factory on Manchester’s former industrial outskirts, he set to work with fellow designer, Richard Sweeney to create a range of paper and board-based products that would mean Lazerian gained an almost instant, international reputation. Those items included Gerald the Dog and the Bravais arm chair. More of Gerald later, but it was certainly Bravais and its companion, the Radiolarian sofa that set a standard for others to follow.
Nobody did quite follow that, but international collectors, brands and curators did. New worlds opened up for Hopkins and the flow of able collaborators, who have popped in and out of the studio to help him out. Then there was jewellery, working always to the theme of underappreciated materials – that time, plastics – and lighting solutions that added to a sense of drama and space, fabricated from carbon fibre, before looking at textiles and producing a range of rugs. Lazerian’s reputation grew through viewing materials as an artistic conundrum to solve, as well as a solution to other people’s problems.
For an artist or designer’s work to be seen in public spaces is a privilege, and Lazerian’s work was exhibited in Manchester Art Gallery for the best part of a decade, has been taken into the collection of the Moscow Design Museum and, famously, was seen at the heart of New York x Design in 2013 when 105 designers customised Gerald the Dog and he flew into America in a landmark celebration of global creativity.
The studio that created all of that has changed. It’s tidier, for a start. But, it is also packed wall-to-wall with a range of fabrication equipment that, matched with the creative brain and a mix of new and traditional technologies, mean a near endless array of possibilities. Sister company, Lost Heritage, now shares the space offering custom print and it also functions as an HQ for HAND, a new company that seeks mass markets for design-led products. So, what does all that mean for the future?
It means everything. It means that nothing will change in respect of the same ambition to be challenged and provide unimaginable solutions to the simplest and most complex of problems, but the second ten years won’t be the same as the first. With every triumph and every mistake came a lesson, which Lazerian responded to by changing process, adapting new ideas or investing in equipment. Brands, curators and collectors are invited, with this in mind, to challenge Lazerian harder, ask for more and expect more. The studio is more capable and readier than ever to respond.
Lazerian looks forward to celebrating our ten years with you.