Michael Gittings Studio


Words: Manuela Millan
Photos: Caitlin Mills 
 

The words “copper-plated steel furniture” conjure up images of sleek lines and smooth, shiny surfaces. Michael Gittings however has taken this technique and created organic, sculptural furniture that is rich in texture and almost unendingly complex. Through playful experimentation he has refined his technique and we were very happy to sit down and find out more about how he does it, and what inspires his work. 

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Michael’s background is in roofing and it was through this trade that he became skilled with his hands. Roughly two years ago he made some copper chairs as a creative outlet and a means by which to test and improve his skills. The chairs got a good response and he was encouraged to do more and keep experimenting.

He primarily works with metals as he is drawn to their strength and versatility. His collection showcases his mastery over a wide variety metalworking techniques. His intricate woven copper chairs and dresser are a particularly impressive display of his patience and attention to detail, with each one incorporating dozens of metal strips carefully interwoven to create a comfortable and stunning result. 

I was initially surprised by how comfortable the woven copper chair was to sit on. I had incorrectly assumed that there might be sharp metal edges, but Michael has done an amazing job in creating comfortable and practical metal furniture without compromising on his design.

It has evolved over time with different patterns and sizes and patinas and things like that. It’s gotten bit more crazy since the first one which was just one strip on top of the other. 

I like that idea of very simple forms repeated, especially in art and architecture. It just just sucks me in.
— Michael Gittings
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In contrast to these geometric and meticulous woven pieces stand his sculptural electroformed chairs. They appear to have grown from some sort of metal seed from another planet - they have no seams, and are unlike any other solid metal chairs which we have seen previously. 

Michael was excited to reveal his secrets, and led us into a room which looked like a mad scientist had set up a lab in the middle of an otherwise typical furniture workshop. In the middle of the room stood a large vat full of vivid blue liquid, surrounded by batteries, wires and clips all used in his process. Michael uses a technique called “Electroforming” which is similar to electroplating and uses copper solution and electricity to slowly build up layers of copper metal onto steel and aluminium structures.  

In a relatively short amount of time Michael’s experimentation has led to his current range, and we are very excited to see how it evolves and what he produces next. 

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MM:Where do you get your inspiration from?

MG: I’m obsessed with looking at design, art and sculpture. Since this started I’ve been obsessively patrolling the internet and buying books and trying to learn more. It’s more about the processes and how people have made different things, rather than their actual aesthetic. I’m really interested in the process and I’ve been inspired by that. 

At the moment I’m fascinated by the socialist design movement from the early 20s, that’s really interesting I think. 

 

MM: What’s your creative process?

MG: Most of my ideas come when I’m driving, then I sketch it out and leave it for a little while. Most of the time I come back to it and realise it’s not a very good idea, so that one gets put in the bin. If there is one which I think has a bit of potential I might do some drawings, draw it up on the computer or just start to make it. With the electroforming there’s no drawings, I just start getting  few bits and pieces together, work on them, and just see how they come out. 

 

MM: What do you do to relax?

MG: I mostly listen to music. I’m a Nic Cave fanatic. Also lots of reading, the dystopian socialist classics (laughs) because there are hundreds of those, I find it fascinating. 

 

MM:What are your hopes for the future?

MG: I just want to be able to do this without doing any roofing, honestly that’s as much as I want from it. I don’t mind if someone wants to give me money and doesn’t take any of my furniture, I would happily furnish my whole place in a kind of brutal steel metal everything, but I doubt that’s going to happen, so hopefully I can just sell a few pieces and that’s enough to take over from roofing and then I can just do this for the rest of my days, that sort of thing. I don’t have any kind of huge plans for world design domination, just to be self-sustaining I think.