Julian Mayor

Stainless steel, Fiberglass

Doncaster, UK

Interview

julianmayor.com

@julian.mayor

Julian Mayor is a British artist and designer whose sculptural furniture blends modern industrial processes with a unique design sensibility. In this collection, Mayor laser cuts and welds together shapes of processed stainless steel with a perfect mirror finish. The resulting product is raw and industrial while managing to expand the very space it occupies. The mirror finish allows the work to take life, adapting to its surroundings and constantly changing based on perspective.

How would you define yourself and what you do?

I’m an Artist and Designer, making furniture and sculpture for indoors and outdoors at a variety of scales, from tabletop to monumental public artworks.

To us, design is about both asking and answering questions that no one else is thinking about. What questions are you asking with your work that no one else in the industry is?

I like to examine how engineering and craft can coexist in an artwork, and how I can build the process of making my art into the look of the work itself. Science fiction, geometry and transformation are great words to describe what I’m trying to achieve when a viewer looks at the work.

Your most recent works all utilize mirror polish stainless steel, in a variety of treatments and colors. What draws you to using a reflective material, for example why use steel over other reflective materials such as glass/mirrors?

I started using the mirror metal almost by chance, but have found that the combination of the perfect surface and the unpolished welds works so well together, and so developed this into a way of working. I’m mindful of creating a balance between the amount of mirror surface area to weld, and so this informs things like the size of the panels versus the amount of welding around them. I like to create a sort of ‘busyness’ in the work that keeps it dynamic and exciting.

Your process utilizes both modern technology with 3D modeling and laser cutting and traditional handiwork with welding. How did you get your start learning these different processes and are there other resources or skills that you’re looking to gain for your future projects? 

I bought a welding machine in 2008 and was using it to make wireframe works, but a Brazilian friend, Fernando Abdalla, suggested that I work with panels of steel and try to develop a chair like that. I made the ‘Fernando’ chair in 2010 in mild steel but felt it needed extra ‘pop’, so I bought some sheets of mirror polish stainless steel and remade the chair in this material. I was so pleased with how it turned out! I think there’s always a balance between refining and expanding the skills you have and seeking completely new ones. I’ve been welding since 2008 and using 3d modelling software for nearly 30 years, but there are still so many avenues that I’m still exploring and developing in my work.

How long did it take you to design this particular chair? Can you describe the timeline from ideation to finish?

This chair is part of a series called Jagged Edge, based on Czech Cubist Furniture from the early 20th century. It was made for a show in Paris at Galerie Armel Soyer, who really helped in developing this series. We talked about the show in mid 2019 and then the actual show happened during the pandemic in late 2020, where it was shown in the gallery and also virtually via 3D scanning and mapping of the gallery space. The computer modelling for this piece was done with the other pieces in the show, and took about 12 months, from the initial idea to cutting and welding the metal.

Did you have any new challenges with this piece in particular?

One of the challenges was incorporation of a simple motif into a variety of furniture pieces, it’s always interesting to see how this happens in sometimes unexpected ways.

Could you describe how you managed to get the patination on this piece?

The patination is just the welding finish, I like to leave it unpolished to tell the story of the making process in the final piece. I’ve been welding almost daily for just over 15 years and so I have got quite good at it!

Your most recent works tend to have rich colorful finishes. Could you describe the differences in motivations when you work with a plain reflective finish versus working with color?

Yes, the coloured metal really expanded my palette of aura’s that the work can generate in a room. One of my personal favourites is the black mirror patina, it transforms a piece and makes the welds ‘read’ differently.

This chair was one of your first pieces, what was the step by step process of making it?

This is the General Dynamic chair, inspired by aircraft from the 1970’s. It’s made from Fiberglass in a mould, and took about a year from idea to final artwork. The original model was made from wood and polyester filler and I made it in the bathroom of the Shoreditch (East London) flat where I was living in 2003!

What failures or learnings did you have when making this? Looking back, would you change anything about the finished product?

This piece was one of my first attempts at taking something from the computer screen into three dimensions. I learnt a lot about making things look complicated and interesting and incorporating the making process, but also finished enough that people would want in their home. I think it turned out pretty well? In particular, I like the fact that its proportional, but not symmetrical in its geometry. It’s also a fairly comfy seat!

Who are some currently working designers that you would recommend us to check out?

Denis Milovanov, Ifeanyi Oganwu, Mathias Bengtsson, Mathias Kiss, Bethan Laura Wood

What are you currently exploring for your current or future work? Could you give us a preview of what’s next from you?

I just finished a series of work for Twentieth Gallery in Los Angeles that is inspired by the Bezier curve and the 20th century American Sculptor Lee Bontecou, it’s on show there spring 2024. At the moment I’m working on a series of large wall reliefs for Pilevneli Gallery in Istanbul, Turkey.