people | british metal designer newby

courtesy of full blown metals

Stephen Newby is owner/founder of Full Blown Metals and has been developing inflated steel products since as early as 1995.  Pillow will be the first ever inflated metal, water filled radiator product intended for the domestic and contract design market and is the first of several radiator designs to be launched next year by Newby.  Pillow will be available in Europe in 2012 from and Bisque radiators. The second radiator in the series is based on a single inflated stainless steel.

What got you interested in radiator design originally?
The aim of my work has been to soften and bring an organic, tactile quality to clinically modern materials such as stainless steel and in doing so giving these materials a soul. The ‘pillow’ radiator is the opposite of the white angular box – it is organic with unexpected curves and a finish that is alive with reflections. The material is very beautiful and can be polished to a flawless mirror finish whilst also being highly functional. The interest comes from using all of these elements, synthesizing them into an object that functions equally, or better than, its drab and uninspiring counterparts.

Did you feel there was a gap in the market for groovy designs?
There is for water filled radiators that work well. Imagine a beautifully sculpted radiator, like a piece of art to be gazed upon and admired, but one that also performs a brilliant function at the same time by making your home warm and comfortable. With recent developments in electric heating just about anything can be used to heat towels or provide ambient heat, but of course these are not ‘true’ radiators that you can rely on to heat your home efficiently. We shouldn’t allow the radiator to become a desirable object at the cost of its primary function, so I’m always aware that both form and function are of equal importance.

Do you think radiator design has tended to have been conservative in the past, and if so why? And if it is now becoming more interesting, why is this?
The original radiators of the Victorian era were decorative and inventive whilst functioning well. However, in time, modernist functionality took over and the efficiency of the radiator and the methods of its manufacture became of paramount importance – given the need to furnish an increasing number of homes with central heating. More recently, I think the emphasis has shifted back towards more decorative and inventive designs. Although we all have radiators in our homes, people are realizing that they don’t actually have to be the traditional white ‘eye sores’ that we try not to notice.

What sparked off your first ideas?
I started by re-articulating what was already there, drawing on the established knowledge of how radiators work rather than trying to re-invent them, creating almost caricatures of archetypal radiators using new forms and wonderful materials.

Where do you see radiator design going? What developments do you see in the future?
I see much of what’s happening lately as a reaction against the function and utility that has been inscribed in the mass manufacture of radiators for the last century. Hopefully we’ll see developments that are less reactive and more progressively embrace what I think Pillow represents: combining a decorative aesthetic with functionality. There is no reason that a radiator cannot be a work of art that also functions as an economical heating device – this is what I would like to see radiator design setting its sights on, and it is what I believe I have achieved with Pillow. What is also interesting is how many modern radiators seem to mimic rather than even re-articulate the Victorian and Edwardian aesthetic. Whilst this is understandable given their enduring charm and iconic status, it is also where I feel they fall short. My intention with Pillow is to push radiator design into what could be a vital and innovative new century, where culture’s staple diet of cast iron no longer overshadows the development of its own aesthetic. Hopefully Pillow goes some way toward achieving this, neither the look of polished steel or the organic form of blown metal is concerned with, or susceptible to, altering design trends.

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full blown metals
Newcastle upon Tyne
United Kingdom
+44 (0)191 462 1375

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  1. […] above portrait of Stephen Newby with his “pillow” wall radiator for Bisque, which has yet to be produced, courtesy of  in site […]

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