One of the most challenging tasks that artists often encounter is making their ideas come to life. At times, there is a lack of inspiration due to a mental block or an insufficient means to craft the idea into a feasible project fittingly. Whatever the case may be, when breakthroughs are made in these circumstances, we see unexpected and visionary ways to usher in something new. And without a doubt, the former certainly provides an introductory phrase for English designer Paul Cocksedge – a designer who probably encompasses that sole term. However, with the types of works under his belt and studio, Cocksedge certainly falls into an array of identity in architecture, art, even a slice of civil engineering.
Born in London, Paul Cocksedge studied industrial design at Sheffield Hallam University in 1997. He returned to London to study at the Royal College of Art with designer Ron Arad and received his MSc in product design in 2002. In 2003, he founded Paul Cocksedge Studio with his business partner Joana Pinho. Since then, he’s been keen on producing a plethora of works that result from his intuitive sense of inspiration, like his sculpture “styrene” that grew out of watching a polystyrene cup expand in an oven. “A lot of the things that inspire me is when a reaction happens, like heat. You take something, heat it, and something inevitably happens. there always needs to be a catalyst to make something.” The result is a fluffy ball that displays a pattern driven by holes pointing outwardly. The sheer outcome is typical of most globes by the opening on the surface are somewhat asymmetrical to imitate an organic sense of expansion.
On the other side of the spectrum, Cocksedge’s approach to creation has also seen fruit in more industrial sides of art and design without necessarily sacrificing its lyrical charm. Cocksedge made his debut in South Africa at this year’s Design Indaba with a functioning timber bridge titled “exploded view.” The bridge runs across from the Liesbeek River in Cape Town. It is made from laminated eucalyptus wood, which is proven to be more sustainable than steel alternatives. The sides of the bridge have overlapping pieces of wood, and aesthetically has a progressive feel to its presentation. Being able to use this bridge and share it with other people hails from Cocksedge’s desire to universalize the value of the piece. “I make my pieces, and they wind up in people’s [sic] homes that I never see, and I miss that connection. So if I just stayed in that territory, I would feel slightly unfulfilled. The public projects bring me back to the street, back to the community, back to where I’m from. The public projects are part of my personality, and I need that balance; otherwise, things wouldn’t make sense.”
For that same reason, Cocksedge’s concern for people’s wellbeing brought him to adopt further projects. As the uncertainty unfolds amid the pandemic, there have numerous social problems that have arisen in desperation for normality. As the public is well aware, being two meters is the recommended practice to prevent the virus’s further spread. Cocksedge decided to guide people with this restriction by designing a social distance blanket online with that exact distance. The blanket is versatile and can be used in any location to adjust for surface and occasion. While it’s a simple design, there is hope that it can provide a little encouragement for people given the circumstances. Cocksedge further comments that “lockdown has given rise to some amazing bursts of creativity, and I wanted to create something positive, that looks towards the future.” As strange as the year has been, one can confide in an artist’s ability to help us through the difficulties we encounter. And with a type of art that always adapts to our needs, we’re in good hands with Paul Cocksedge.