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Hannah Williams is a British artist and bespoke material designer who specialises in handmade marbled silicone products. Hannah has developed a unique, award-winning material called MarbleSil™ that has endless possibilities for its use such as wall coverings, flooring, upholstery, homeware and much more. The AUTHOR team was delighted to speak to Hannah about her innovative and creative work.
Where did your passion for creating MarbleSil™ come from?
I’ve always been driven by design and that journey began when I started to study fashion. Whilst in my final year of BA in Fashion Design at Epsom UCA, I wanted to mould garments to give a Trompe L’oeil effect, this then lead me to work with a model maker who showed me a variety of ways to achieve this. He showed me silicone and my love for the material grew from there. I created pure silicone moulded garments that looked like 1920’s suits, jackets and details of French lace and 1920’s showgirl jewellery. I won numerous awards for the use of material innovation and knew I wanted to develop this further, that’s why I went on to study an MA in womenswear at the Royal College of Art.
Whilst at RCA, I experimented further with silicone and wanted to change the mundane routine of pattern cutting and sewing and wanted to work like a sculptor. Therefore, I moulded materials such as plaster, acrylic and silicone onto live models, creating one off pieces of art on the body, which then functioned as fashion. Whilst doing this, I looked at the Ziegfeld Follies and the type of architecture they would have performed in, such as, Baroque architecture. I loved the amount of marble that was within these buildings and wanted to re-create this with my use of materials, especially silicone. This is where MarbleSil™ began.
After graduating from RCA I realised the endless possibilities with this material. It had such incredible properties, with it being waterproof, heat proof and slip proof, this made it an ideal material for interiors and architecture. My journey continues today where I continue to develop new and interesting applications with MarbleSil™.
How have you been implementing sustainable practices into your work?
Sustainability is very important to me and many of my product ranges are driven by it. We have a no-waste policy and so I re-use all the mixing pot waste by putting them into new designs to make new colour ways and patterns.
I also use discarded carpet that would otherwise end up in landfill and re-create a new hybrid material by incorporating MarbleSil™ onto the carpet. The primary pigments are disposed in liquid silicone rubber solutions and then hand mixed to make the beautiful marble patterns. This collaborative design allows the fibres from the carpet to be used as an easy application for wall covers and flooring. It also gives new life to the discarded carpet by adding silicone to its surface.
Where you always interested in creating things as a child?
Yes, I’ve always had strong vision and taste in what I like. My mother told me a story that when I was around 3-4 years old, she had taken me out shopping and I went straight up to the child’s clothing area and rummaged through the rail, picking out items, putting them back if they weren’t right and then finally choosing the perfect piece. I always had a clear vision of what I liked and I guess that has continued to grow with me.
How did you start your business?
My business started after graduating from my MA at RCA in 2015. I continued to develop my product and launched my first capsule MarbleSil™ interior collection in September 2019 at 100% Design in London.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your pieces?
Definitely creating colours. Each colour starts off as a primary pigment, I then hand mix every colour to create the perfect palette. It’s always my favourite part, especially when colours work perfectly.
Do you have any design heroes, or are you inspired by any other artist’s work?
I’m highly inspired by sculpture and my favourite sculptor artist is David Altmejd, his use of vulgar, hard materials and his explicit forms, then combined with beautiful colour, instantly become soft and have so much essence of beauty to them.
Any upcoming projects/ pieces you’re working on that you’d like to tell us about?
I’m currently working with a manufacturer to develop a kitchen countertop that has a moulded sink integrated as well as having heating and cooling elements for food. MarbleSil™ would work perfect for this as its, water proof (great for the sink area), heat proof (able to put hot plates straight onto this) and slip proof (no plates will slip on if knocked).
Shop Hannah’s work in the AUTHOR shop: