Product Designer: Ariane Prin

With a focus on utility, texture and form, this maker produces one-off pieces crafted from the by-products of metalworking

Meet Ariane Prin

Combining her passions for sustainability and originality, designer Ariane Prin launched her first homewares collection, Rust, in 2015. Made entirely by hand using waste metal particles, each piece is unique in colour, texture and shape.

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Names to know Ariane Prin

Ariane in her east London studio next to a display of recently completed work.

My collection came about thanks to a bag of key dust that a locksmith gave me one day. I love how a material that is useless to one person can be of much greater value to someone else, and the starting point of a new project; I think we need to make more of these design connections. All of the pieces in the Rust collection are inspired by a desire to create new forms and utility out of commonly discarded waste materials.

Names to know Ariane Prin

Ariane pours the mixture into a mould.

I made my first samples for Rust five years ago. During study and residencies in Japan and Poland, I learned how to make ceramic homewares and I applied this knowledge to my new project, mixing metal particles with gypsum and acrylic. No two items are the same: each is made by hand and the metal oxidation gives it a distinct texture and colour. After a week of experimenting, I noticed that the pieces had turned into a mixture of orange, yellow and brown, which I liked.

Names to know Ariane Prin

Samples reveal the diversity of colour produced by different metal particles and various oxidisation techniques.

I grew up in a small village in north-east France. My parents have always been very serious about recycling. They also shared a passion for collecting old objects, from hand-painted wooden carousel horses and vintage enamelled advertising signs to tools from the Middle Ages. I was also inspired by an encouraging art teacher. I guess the mix of growing up in the countryside, having parents with an ecological awareness and a teacher who gave me the confidence to pursue a creative career, made me who I am today.

Names to know Ariane Prin

Vases, trays and pots made using metal particles combined with acrylic.

It’s great to see the pieces that I make evolve over time. They are unique, but it’s not easy to pinpoint why. Maybe the fact that they are impossible to replicate – each is ascribed its own number. Perhaps it’s also the aspirational aspect of upcycling, or the imperfect, hand-made feel of the work.

Names to know Ariane Prin

Ariane’s unique Rust collection has evolved from her desire to experiment.

Every two months, I ask locksmiths and metal workshops across the country whether they have any metal dust to give me. A while ago, I collaborated with a locksmith in Kent called Bill, who was very keen to contribute to my project. It took him three years to gather 2kg of key dust generated in his tiny shop. That was very touching.

Names to know Ariane Prin

Each piece is finished with a brass disc inscribed with a serial number.

Expanding into a range of tiles, called Rustiles, seems like a natural progression. As a product designer, I am used to creating pieces that I can hold in my hands. To make something that can be scaled to the size of an entire building felt a bit out of my comfort zone, but also very exciting.

Names to know Ariane Prin

Waste metal particles are carefully sieved before being used.

I am always trying new metal particles or new oxidation processes in order to increase the colour range. There is still room for experimentation, improvement, styles and applications. That is what I like about this project: it seems endless. I also look forward to collaborations that could help further reveal the diversity and potential of the material.

Prin London, Studio 20, Space Studios, 80C Eastway, London E9 5JH, 0740 2986 457, prin.in. Studio visits by appointment only. 

Photography/ Jake Curtis

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