Craft introduces and welcomes Thomas Yeend Design, who is now stocking at Craft. Based in Adelaide, South Australia, Thomas Yeend Design is a design brand producing local hand-crafted glass homewares and lighting.

Founded in 2016, he began with an interest in the potential of combining modern digital craft technologies, such as 3D modelling and printing, with traditional blown and cast glass processes, producing work with a unique focus on user interaction and the tactile nature of glass as a material.

Pairing these interests with an undying love of the Bauhaus and Memphis design movements, Thomas combines basic block colours and simple minimalist forms, with traditional hand-blown and cast glass processes. His ultimate mission is to produce high quality, locally hand-crafted design work which possesses a distinct, signature aesthetic, perfectly fusing style with fun.

What first drew you to work with glass as a material?

I’d like to say that my love of glass stems from my mother’s love of glass. She has always collected beautiful works from local Australian glass artists and designers over the years, so when a glassblowing elective was presented as an opportunity during my time at The University of South Australia, I couldn’t pass it up! 

It’s the Melbourne International Film Festival here and we would love to ask - Favourite Craft film, or cinematic craft/glass moment?

I’m not sure if it counts as a “craft” film, but I’ve always loved the documentary ‘Bill Cunningham New York’. I started my Bachelor of Visual Arts with an obsession with analogue photography, initially intending to major in it. I love seeing the amazing New York street fashion and the way Bill approached his practice as an artist. 

You studied both at SA and the Jam Factory - what were some of the most important things you took away from your time there?

My study at the University of South Australia, as well as the amazing ongoing support of my lecturer Gabriella Bisetto, have been invaluable elements of my career as a designer/maker. Having trained and graduated as a glassblower, I was able to gain insight into how glass works as a material. I consider myself a bit more of a designer than a glassmaker lately, but having that obtained knowledge of glass and its capabilities has been a key part of my process when designing new work.

This year you won the Vivid Colour Award - congratulations! Could you talk about what went into creating your kilo lights?

Thank you so much! The KILO Lamp Series is my first foray into lighting design. A lot of my work is influenced by the Bauhaus and Memphis design movements, focusing on simple geometric shapes and bold block colours, so the design of two spheres (my favourite thing to blow in glass) seemed like a natural fit! I decided to design a desk lamp over a pendant light, which is done quite often in glass and other mediums at the moment, as a way of trying something new in a way that I could test and display easily, without the need of any sort of ceiling installation or rig. My main issue with this so far has been that there are certain certifications needed for desk and floor lighting that can be quite costly and lengthy. I’m hoping to someday soon be able to do some re-prototyping with the KILOs, and have them certified and ready for production!

Favourite craft moment over the last five years?

I’d say, more broadly, I’ve been really interested in seeing the rise of 3D modelling and printing, especially in the context of its potential in being combined with traditional craft processes. I actually started my practice experimenting with this marrying of traditional and modern crafts, with one of my first product lines being a functional cast-glass nut and bolt; initially 3D modelled and printed, both nut and bolt were separately moulded, and then cast into glass, producing a fun, “functional” paperweight. I’ve seen a lot of really interesting, unique, and otherwise-impossible craft work recently which showcases the potential in the combining of old and new craft techniques.

You’ve been working on a lot of commissions for private and commercial clients? Can you share one of your favourites with us?

My favourite commission work so far has been some ongoing work with a local Melbourne plant boutique, ‘PLANT by Packwood’. I’ve been commissioned over the past year or so to create various glassware products for the business, designed around planting, growing, and cultivating household plants. Collaborating with somebody in such a different field to my own has been amazing, and has allowed for some really fun and beautiful products, which we hope to have released over the next year.

How do you relax after a hard day in the studio?

I love to walk! Walking around town, bush hikes, anything really. It really helps to clear my head and refresh my creative thought process.

Favourite thing about making glass?

There are two things I really love about making glass. Firstly, I love how it moves; it’s unlike any other material I know. Secondly, I love the feeling of getting the work the next day. To allow glass to come down to room temperature safely, we put the work in large ovens called ‘annealers’ overnight, which slowly brings the temperature down. Getting the work out the next day feels like opening Christmas presents, waiting to see what worked and what didn’t. It’s always so exciting!