Designer    People 12 Apr 2018
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We speak to renowned designer, Colin Wong, about his innovative ‘The Rock’ kitchen concept 

Following the KBB 2018 exhibition, we spoke to Designer and Director of Development Direct about his inspirational ‘The Rock’ kitchen concept…

 What was the essence behind the rock project?

“The Rock concept is the creation of a personalised kitchen sculpture designed to connect to its surroundings and its users. Like a commissioned piece of art, each Rock is unique, crafted to sit proudly within the space. Today’s kitchen industry is often reliant on current trends which can often ‘timestamp’ a kitchen. The concept removes the primary focus off the cabinetry on to the form itself, creating timeless kitchen architecture.

“The Rock concept allows clients to commission their personalised Rock, then cloak it in their selected material and finally ‘slot’ in their chosen furniture. Designed to last generations, furniture can simply be interchanged while the Rock sculpture remains timeless and truly individual.”

What was the story behind each island?

“I find design more interesting if there is an underlying feeling behind my creations, so I often pen a few song lyrics or poems to start my design mind…”

ARCTIC.

‘sitting on a cliff edge yet never feeling lonely’

“I wanted to create a dramatic, raw piece, akin to nature with the tactile feeling of a rock formation. It was important that the piece wasn’t too refined so I asked the fabricator to go back to old stone masonry techniques and hand-chisel the edge.”

CORTEN

‘wheels of industry keep the foundries flaming’

“Corten was inspired by an industrial metal-worker’s bench, to create the moody feeling of an industrial sweat shop. While I wanted it to be atmospheric and minimal, it was equally important to retain a feeling of honesty.”

INFINITY

‘waves lapped onto the distant horizon’

“I wanted a hypnotic feeling of waves that were never-ending, with Infinity. Something with the power to lead your senses away from the stresses in your mind. The layers were tapered and then backlit to draw your eye to the hypnotic lines.”

LOOKING GLASS

‘if I could only remember my dreams’

“I wanted to be a little playful with this Rock. Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, I wanted to draw the eye in a theatrical way to a sensual velvet box. This was achieved by tapering tactile metal panels towards the box so the eye is immediately intrigued by the contents of the box.”

How do you think this project will change some designers, and consumers, views of the kitchen?

“The concept’s goal is to hand the power back to designers, to create more thought provoking designs which have a real sense of permanence. I also like to see great design available to all and not just the elite, so personalisation is the key. Whether consumers choose to clad their Rock in a semi-precious stone, recycled scrap or antique Time magazine covers, the emphasis is on the form and is personal to them. I would hope my concept encourages designers from all walks of life, whether it be artisan blacksmiths or pop-artists to leave their mark on the design landscape.”

 Could you pick a favourite rock?

“Ouch! It’s like picking a favourite child!”

“I have to be honest and say that I designed them to conjure different moods so I guess if I am in a dreamy mood, I love Arctic and if I am in a playful mood I would choose Looking Glass. My own taste loves Corten and ‘her indoors’ loves the curves of Infinity! Nothing like sitting on a fence!”

Could you tell us a little bit about the design and development of creating the Rocks?

“All my Rocks are freestanding and don’t rely on the furniture to support them, meaning the cabinets can be interchanged over the generations to suit. I recall designing 20 Rocks and presenting them to the material suppliers who collaborated with me. They looked at some of them, then looked at me like I had 3 heads! I obviously wanted them to choose my more extreme designs but respected that we had time constraints and didn’t want the fabricators to run for the hills. It wasn’t all plain sailing but for so many companies to come together and work so hard on my concept was a proud moment – a lot of great friendships came out of it.”

How long did it take for the project to come to fruition?

“The KBB2018 organisers visited me in November 2017 and after a G+T too many, the rock was born! I remember receiving a text message the day after from the organisers saying, ‘Let’s build the rock!’ So, in total, 4 months of blood, sweat and tantrums!”

Where might you go next with the Rock project?

“It was a proud moment to be invited to bring my concept to fruition, so my designs will simply follow this avenue and see where it takes me. I have been asked many times if I am scared if other designers will copy me, but I personally think that it’s a compliment and go as far to encourage them to create amazing Rocks.

“A lot of good came out of the whole project as the proceeds from the sales of all Rocks will be donated to a charity I support.”

Development Direct | developmentdirect.co.uk