Bronze ages

25 Oct, 13

Artist designer Mark Humphrey talks about his latest taps for Waterfront Bathrooms

Mark Humphrey describes himself as an artist designer, fusing both disciplines in his work. His creative portfolio spans public sculptures and architectural installations, through to interior products such as furniture and brassware. Mark Humphrey combines the skills from artisan crafts in his projects – leaving people to question whether the work is art or design. Most recently he has updated the MH 1 tap collection, for Waterfront Bathrooms, and we talk to him about his latest work

K&B News: You describe yourself, unusually, as an artist designer but what is it?

Mark Humphrey (MH): If you look at an actor or writer or a singer songwriter, normally those titles are X and Y. So I can say, I’m an artist and I’m a designer. I coined the phrase ‘Artist designer’. I think it’s a new term. It’s a new job role or title that I’m trying to promote. It’s crossing both boundaries. My work can be out and out pure sculpture on one hand and it can be mass produced, functional tap on another.

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K&B News: So can you explain how you have combined art and design in your latest collaboration with Waterfront Bathrooms?

MH: In this case Waterfront is talking about taps as sculptures and this is a new launch of [MH1 collection] in bronze. So what I am trying to say is why can’t a tap be a sculpture in bronze? Rather than have a bronze bust or bronze Henry Moore Marquette, the tap is in bronze and therefore it is a piece of sculpture. But actually you can turn it on and use it.

K&B News: So, interestingly, the finish wasn’t chosen because of fashion trends?

MH: Exactly. When Waterfront approached me this year and asked what can we do? I said ‘I know what we can do. Let’s talk about the tap as a piece of art to look at’. When you look at a piece of art, generally, you’re looking at stone or bronze. It is how we perceive sculptures.

K&B News: Why did you look to introducing a new finish rather than a new shape?

MH: I try to be very timeless, not follow fashion, and therefore it won’t be in one year and out the next. I like craftsmanship in design in natural and synthetic materials. The tap has a timeless quality and will patina and age beautifully, and then it will have a different quality about it. You can shine it up, if you want it shiny, and it will have a different emotional feeling.

The droplet form of the tap, which I designed in 1999, and I don’t think has been copied – why get rid of it or try another design when we haven’t finished the story? It’s in chrome. It’s in gold but we’d never done it in bronze. I think we might be one of the first to do bronze taps and have that sculptural feel.