DESIGN UNDEFINED: Q&A WITH KIA UTZON-FRANK

As Clerkenwell Design Week draws nearer the excitement among our team is becoming increasingly palpable. Showcasing the best of creative talent that bridges the gap between previously independent disciplines, Design Undefined is an exhibition, curated by Clerkenwell London, celebrating the rule breakers and innovators of the design world.

As we prepare to welcome a plethora of exhibitors including Katie Treggiden, Max Fraser, Seetal Solanki and many more we took time out to speak to goldsmith, sculptor, inventor, designer and cake decorator Kia Utzon-Frank ahead of the launch of her brand KUFstudios at Clerkenwell London.

What does Clerkenwell Design Week mean to you?
Clerkenwell Design Week is growing ever more respected as an influential design week and attracts a lot of interesting people. It’s a brilliant chance to meet vital connections for my future business, so I’d better get my power mingling hat dusted.

Design Undefined is a celebration of upturned conventions and breaking the rules. Why is breaking the rules important to you?
I have been in situations where it has been expected that I do things a certain way, especially in my process of commercialising my window blinds system. Every time I tried the expected way I failed and felt miserable. It took me a while to figure out that doing things the way that feels natural to me works.

Why is Clerkenwell London a great venue for Design Undefined?
Clerkenwell London is such a versatile space with so much going on, and it’s extremely hard to pin down exactly what it is. But it works. It’s a perfect match for Design Undefined as all of us exhibiting are quite hard to put in a box, so we’ve also created our own. I wasn’t actually planning on starting a brand when Clerkenwell London approached me, but they wanted to exhibit all my different types of work, and I had just come up with my idea and name for KUFcakes, so it was quite natural that starting a brand was the obvious way to make the most of this opportunity.

How did you find creating a bespoke version of your Louver Twisted Comb shutter system for Clerkenwell London? Did you face any new challenges?
For the first time since I came up with the idea I have been given the opportunity to get the system built by someone else. Clerkenwell London’s in-house workshop and team of engineers have taken on the job. I’ve just had to explain what I wanted and so far everything has been possible.

What is your top tip for anyone visiting CDW16?
Get involved. Talk to the designers. Chat up the person standing next to you. The more you know about the things you’re looking at, the better they get.

Visitors to Clerkenwell Design Week will be able to view Kia’s work in the Keep at Clerkenwell London 10am-8pm, and also taste her KUFcakes at 155 Bar & Kitchen 7.30am-10.30pm 24-26 May.

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