For What It’s Worth

06/09/2012

We are proud to announce a very special project in collaboration with Dutchmann: For What It’s Worth, a limited edition surfboard handcrafted by Spider Murphy.

Dutchmann is a project that seeks to connect contemporary designers and artists with master craftsmen. In this project, ten designers/artists have created designs on the theme of Delftware to be applied to a surfboard shaped by Spider Murphy, one of the world’s most experienced and prolific surfboard designers. The surfboards will be on show tonight at the JoBurg Art Fair, where they will also be for sale. For enquiries about purchasing one of the boards, please contact us@dutchmann.co.za.

Below is an interview Jonathan gave to the Dutchmann website explaining the studio’s contribution:

– How would you describe what you do?
I am a designer. That means I organise objects (pictures, text, materials) to communicate something about the world around me in a mass-produced form. What I do has no intrinsic market value and does not pretend to be art, but it does reach many people, so it has to be as carefully considered as any art or craft.

– Where do you work?
I don’t need a studio to think of ideas, so I don’t really put much worth in what my studio looks like. The most important thing is where my studio is located – right in the heart of central London. When I come into work in the morning it’s always busy and full of the energy of the human race, which I love. For me, part of being a creative person is celebrating humanity and demonstrating your love for the human race.

– What role does craft play in your work?
There is a great deal of craft that goes into typography. Reading is a complex act and there are many different ways that a designer can influence the way messages are communicated. Knowing how to do that requires an understanding of the craft of typography. You have to know how to space letters to aid reading, how to use punctuation correctly, how to find the right ‘voice’ of the text. Craft is the method I use to give a message or concept concrete form.

– What tools do you use in your work?
I use a computer, but you can be as passionate and caring about craft on a computer as you can about doing something directly by hand. The craft is about attention to detail, knowledge of the material that your work will be produced in and a deep understanding of the tools you use. There are certain ways of working, however, that are decided by my computer. So, I make a concerted effort to disrupt that tool too, to stop myself from getting too comfortable.

– Are there any similarities between what you and Spider do?
I liken Spider’s shaping of the surfboard to the way I draw a letterform. I slowly work at the shape until it is perfect, until its form looks effortless, yet contains all of the knowledge and evolution of history. The form has to be beautiful but can’t sacrifice function – its beauty must come from its use.

– How did you approach this project?
We are all accustomed to identifying Delftware with The Netherlands and Dutch culture. However, the white and blue pottery originated in China and was imported to The Netherlands in the 16th century through colonial routes. Delftware underwent a further transformation as the once handcrafted, precious objects became mass-produced. Manufacturers started using cheaper material and the famous style was applied to anything from decorative plates to toilet seats. The decline in the value of these objects is visualized in my design. It uses the visual language of promotional tags and discount stickers, commonly seen in supermarkets, to construct a slightly religious-looking pattern. I hope I have produced something which Spider couldn’t have imagined on one of his surfboards and that has made him question the nature of surface pattern, even if just for a moment.

– Anything else to add?
I’ll let William Morris say it for me: “The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life” – that is what good design is about and that is what this project is about.