Five designer-maker stories from Simple Shape

By Penny Craswell

A wide-ranging discussion with Helen Osgerby, design lover and the brains behind online store Simple Shape, takes in the changing precinct of Deptford in London, serendipitous encounters with like-minded individuals, the role of narrative and storytelling in design, and the (almost literally) polar-opposite weather: balaclava-cold in London, oven-hot in Sydney.

Our rapport is instant, despite the distance, perhaps thanks to Osgerby’s approach to design, which is very much focused on storytelling. “When something has a story attached it, it has a resonance,” explains Osgerby. “That was one of the things that was important in thinking about the business. It’s about quality too – feeling a glass jug is handblown for example, it’s very skilled and unique and incredible.”

The pastel ceramics collection by Elliott Ceramics, Simple Shape. Photo: supplied.

The pastel collection by Elliot Ceramics, Simple Shape. Photo: supplied.
The pastel collection by Elliot Ceramics, Simple Shape. Photo: supplied.
I first heard about Simple Shape from Helen’s husband Jay Osgerby, half of London design studio Barber Osgerby, so it’s no surprise to learn that Helen is fully immersed in the design community, with plenty of knowledge and contacts (she tells me a story about working with “jelly architects” Bompas and Parr for an event where they decided it would be great fun to explode some jelly). 
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Design writings: Alice Springs studio Elbowrkshp

“James and Elliat have been in Alice for the last 10 years. The move here was inspired by an 11-month camel trek to Broken Hill via the Snowy Mountains, after which they decided to trade in their coastal home for a life in the red centre. When Elbowrkshp launched in April this year, I made it out there to take part in the festivities. Once back in Sydney, I sat down to chat via the technological string that ties our lives together…”

Assemble Papers article on Elbowwrkshp
Assemble Papers article on Elbowwrkshp

This wonderful article by Genevieve Murray for Assemble Papers blog looks at two designers who took the road less travelled – designer Elliat Rich, and bespoke shoemaker James B. Young – who have set up a workshop/retail studio in Alice Springs. Assemble Papers is a blog with some great content on design, art and architecture, all related to small footprint living.

Read the article here.