Liz McKenzie Design

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Degree Show 2008 at Central St. Martins

How to describe a final degree show? Having attended previous shows as a student going through it myself was a whole different experience. The building tension, the nerves and exitement of the private view and then the following week of tedious invigilation. I did have some really interesting conversations with all sorts of people but at the end of it all I am left with what I began with: myself and a portfolio of work. Now that college is over the real work begins in ernest. I and all the graduate designers of 2008 must find ourselves a place in the world of design. Rather daunting, but that's what we've been working towards for the last 4 years. I intend to throw myself into the job seeking process and see where it takes me. As my tutor said "it's now time to design my own life."

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Central St. Martins Product Design Show 2008

It's finally here. The degree show gets underway today after a long day of setting up yesterday. All of the graduating class' work can be seen at
I am lucky that there are so many great people and designers in my year sadly that means they'll be strong competition once we're chasing jobs. But it has been a fantastic 3 years which I know I will look back on with increasing misty-eyed fondness the further into the future I get. Anyway, check out the site. There is some really great work to be seen.

Self Managed Project - Tea Time

A Tea Service that provides a spot of meditation in today’s hectic world
In the 21st century there is a proliferation of products that demand our engagement but give little back in return. The aim of this project was to design a product, which would create a calm space in our busy daily lives.

Rituals and their associated gestures are beneficial to us because we find them pleasurable and reassuring. Through the use of Tea Time to prepare and drink a cup of tea the user enacts their own soothing ritual.

The mundane can become special if it is viewed from a new perspective. In light of this each piece of the Tea Service has it’s own way of being used and related gestures. This causes the user to become aware of the ritual they are performing and enjoy the specific actions of each part of the tea making process.

It was important to map out the tea narrative and I observed various tea rituals including a Japanese Tea ritual, Tea Leaf reading and making a Pot of Tea for Two.
As was observing the way people interact with tea objects like cups, mugs and tea pots. I found that everyone has a favourite mug and way of holding it. Also people often change their grip during the drinking process. As the mug cools down they can ignore the handle and grasp the body of the mug.
I was influenced by the design language and philosophy of Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa. “The super normal object is the result of a long tradition of evolutionary advancement in the shape of everyday things, not attempting to break with the history of form but rather trying to summarise it” Morrison. They wrote a really interesting book based on their exhibition of found Super Normal objects called Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary. There is also a useful website/blog at
During the concept generation phase I played with narrative themes that had a relaxing element like gardening, woodland walk, the seashore and a more abstract concept: air. I chose to develop air as it had it's own language and offered the broadest appeal.

My design was based on the theme of air, in terms of space and freedom. Each piece has a specific gesture associated with it and the fragility and shapes are designed so that care has to be taken by the user.
To develop the actions and gestures I wanted (i.e. graceful and languid) I did a lot of testing. Especially with the spouts and the pouring action.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

QT Table

The Liberty brief called for a contemporary piece of furniture which expressed Liberty values. I have always loved working with wood and wanted to experiment with turning in the hope of developing more contemporary designs. My original concept (1 of 7) was based on this idea.
I did lots of turning experiments, which were great fun and some really interesting interactions between the stripes and the profiles were discovered.

I developed the design using a combination of foam/card modelling and 3D modelling in Rhino where I could try out lots of iterations quicker and cheaper than using real wood.
In the final construction I was keen to show the construction by open-ended wedged tenon joints for the legs. The top is veneered with wood-lipping around particleboard since this prevents the top from warping.

This is the end of the process. The final coffee table design. I will be presenting the design to Liberty on the 2nd of July. Hopefully they'll like it and want to sell it in their store. As well as preparing a technical manufacturing package I have also made a full size detail which shows the beauty of the process of turning and the wood off to its full advantage.


Hello and welcome to my blog. After some consideration of all the ways I could have a public face I decided on blogging as a useful way for me to interact with like-minded souls about design and life in general. I am currently weeks away from graduating from the the BA Product Design course at Central St. Martins and facing all the decisions that being let loose on the world after 3 years of study brings. Nick our course leader gave us a rousing speech on Friday about this being the time to design our lives. A superb if terrifying thought. So spurred on by I have begun this blog as a means to show my work to the world and my thoughts on design and my practice. I will be keeping you up to date as to my progress over the next few weeks/months. Obviously if you view my work on this blog and like it I would welcome any job offers or comments. Please have a look and tell me what you think. Thanks for visiting.