The Up and Coming | Interview | Samuel Bellamy of Bellamy Design

I want to make it quite clear that I referred to Mr Bellamy as a future Tom Dixon all the way back in May, at the beginning of my blogging days (excuse the rather terrible post!) but after meeting Sam for a drink and a catch-up I’m quite sure that I’m still very right with that prediction and I can’t wait to continue waiting for all of the brilliant products he’ll be creating over the next few years. Having previously been awarded Boss Design’s Student Designer of the Year at Clerkenwell Design week back in 2013, Samuel has been working hard since the beginning of university and he is certainly a brave and ambitious guy. Selected as part of the New Design Britain Awards at May Design Series this year, he was already exhibiting his Moroccan Lamps before others had even completed their final major projects. This extra publicity has certainly held him in good stead and he walked away as winner of Accessories category and People’s Choice Awards. He then went on to exhibit at New Designers too so I’ve seen a lot of him this summer! Samuel’s designs are very luxurious and he pays meticulous attention to detail, creating high quality finishes and intricate parts within his products. 

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and where you studied?
I’m 23 and I’m originally from Nottingham. I’m moving to London soon to start working in Hackney. I studied Furniture & Product Design at Nottingham Trent University.

So, what made you want to take a creative degree in the first place?
I think I realised from a young age that I wasn’t that academic. I’ve always been way more creative and arty. I originally wanted to go into the graphics and media side of things but then I realised that I actually really craved making physical products. I wanted to physically realise something I had in my head that I had drawn or seen rather than it just being a virtual thing. That’s what got me into actually creating products and furniture.

We were spoilt with your Moroccan Lamps at both May Design Series and New Designers, can you tell me how that concept came about?
I wanted to come out of university and definitely start producing my own work and I knew I’d have very little money investment so I wouldn’t have a lot of space to create it in. The actual assembly and construction of the lamps was based around that prediction. Obviously the style is dedicated to the original Moroccan lamps as I always like to have an original inspiration that I like to try and recreate whether that be a form or image to go from. The whole idea was that I would have something I could create in my bedroom with minimal tooling and I wouldn’t have to rely on any other people.

And what encouraged you to enter the lamps into New Design Britain at May Design Series – a bit early I guess too?
Yeah, it was a bit early but it just popped up on Twitter and I’d just finished my minor project (the lamps) and that was my strongest project. I knew it would be a good platform to launch myself and get into an exhibition early and I’d already thought about the product being commercially viable because I wanted to do it for my other company. Filling out the form, I realised that I’d considered a lot of the things for the application already so I thought I’d put my efforts into that rather than my major project basically. I’d done it before with a competition in second year – I missed a few projects to make sure I did well in the competition and it had paid off before – so I thought I’ll do that again.

Very brave decisions – luckily they worked for you! What designers have inspired you throughout university?
I try not to look at other designers, although, it’s obviously good to check that you’re not copying other people’s work. But in terms of seeing what other people do I can find that it carves my vision slightly. When I did my placement at Duffy London, Chris Duffy was a really great mentor and he was always inspiring me. He has some really original designs, that are really playful and forward thinking. He never stops with an idea and he sees it through to the end. Its paid off and he’s got some really original stuff. 

What made you choose to take the sandwich course to take the year out with Duffy London?
I just knew it would be essential to get real experience in the industry and I was very fortunate to work for a small company. I thought a big company would be really good but I worked for a very small team at Duffy in which I got a lot of exposure so I learnt a lot about logistics and things you wouldn’t learn at university. Learning those struggles of a small company with not a lot of money to throw around makes you think a lot more practically about what you are doing. It helped me to realise to value the resources I had at university and to make the most of prototyping and things like that. So when I came out of university I had done all of that already.

So, it’s been great to chat but just to finish off what are your plans for the future?
So yeah, I’ll start work full-time at the end of September doing something completely different. I’ll be designing staircases which is quite architectural and different but that means I can focus on my own work in my own time. I’ve got a little home studio so I can carry on with what I’m doing and hopefully produce different things within the range and expand what I’m already doing. I also want to try and do commissioned work for other companies so it sort of stretches out what I can do and it would be nice design bits and pieces for other companies here and there – I’m not just designing for myself but I’m designing in general.

I feel like there is some really super advice here if you apply it to your own course or decision-making process. It can sometimes pay off to be brave and take a risk but you really have to put your all into it like Sam did if you want it to work. There’s also a really important lesson in getting real life experience in the industry so get out there now, talk to people and use everything your university has to offer.
If you’re coveting Sam’s lamps (I know I am!) get in on the Bellamy Design action early and purchase one via his website:
Follow him on Twitter and Instagram here: @bellamydesign
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