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Design As Catalyst

Oliver Hawkes

Oliver Hawkes is British designer currently based in London, his work has crossed into multiple disciplines from product design to interior design and architecture. He is now working on commissioned and freelance projects in London.

Previously educated in Architecture, the move to product design was driven by a want for a more hands on approach to design, taking a step closer to coal face and being more involved in all stages of the process.

If you have any ideas ratterling around that you want to bring into reality, don't hesitate to contact me. You have idea, I now have lots to time!


Royal College of Art, Milan Design Week, 2019

(Un)Finished, London Design Festival, 2020

New Contracts, London Design Festival, Fall 2021

A large part of my design practise is about understanding the process behind an object, making the user take part in the experiance of creating it. Enabling the objects to have an intate sense of ownership to them. Design as a Catalyst has been the perfect platform to explore this, enabling me as a design to better critically responsed to some of the larger idea that come with co-creation.

The two project on show here are explorations of user initiated design, explorations of how within a framework people without design background can take a back some ownership from a world that is designed for them rather than by them. Removing the daunting side of making and replacing it with excitement and learning.

The first project, F-Snaps, leans into my background of furniture/ interior design. It is a system of parts that aims to grow the users confidence in making, enabling people with different skills to build furniture. A simple plug and play system that hopes to teach the material and human value that their own furniture.

Birds, Buildings and Communities is designed around workshopping sessions primarily with childern and young adults. Combining the excitement of making with learning about their local environment, the project doesn't aim to create as refined objects as F-Snaps does but it makes up for it in the simple expressivness of a bird box form.

On the right is a cross section of all my work.

Lap Joints/ 90 Degree Joints / Pins / Cross Bracing Pins
Table 1 — A small coffee table made with F-Snaps
Table 2 With F-Snaps — A second table made with interchangeable parts to Table 1, with the F-Snap Jig and pins.
Detail 1 — A detail of the components and fixing legs / tops and brace together. A paracord substructure woven through for extra rigidity.
User creation 1 — A clothing rail made from old materials and broken Ikea items.
Cross Bracing Pins — The Cross bracing pin in active, tensioning paracord.
User creation 2 — A small footstool.
An instruction manual

F-Snaps is a fixing system that helps to intergrate more user input into their own furniture. Enabling the creation, de-construction, reconstruction and repair of their furniture. The system is a set of 4 fixings that facilitate the joining of standard timber battens without the needs for knowledge of joinery techniques, only a 8mm drill bit and provided jig.

With only a few simple components and a dash of creative input the system opens up the world of furniture making and customisation to a wider audience. Opening up the world of furniture creation, give us more tools to combat the growing problem of fast furniture and its impact on the world resources. Connecting people to the objects that they've brought and allowing them real ownership and control of the environment that they live in.

Box 1
Box 1
Box 2
Wall of boxe
Workshop 1
Workshop 2
Workshop instructions
Instruction Manual — F
Further development — Each box is enscribed with a QR code and will in the future connect to a data base of birdbox locations that will help to facilitate learning out the populations fo wild birds in the area
Further development

Engagement with wildlife and the reclamation of the local environment is at the core of this project. Through the use of homemade bird boxes and a versatile hanging technique the goal was for urban residents to be able to create value for the community and wildlife population even if the environment seems unapproachable and hostile to nature.

Through multiple workshop events around South London and with the help of Global Generation and their Young Generators at the Printworks, we created a series of bird boxes that have then been hung up using the techniques of arborists and climbers in places normally reserved for only human use. Creating a more organic nesting spots of the avian population in the area, starting with the Black Redstart, the vision of the project is through making the user can better understand the complex nature of the wildlife that surrounds us and create awareness that constant building development is reducing the birdlife in our urban centres.

A custom bracket and set of risograph instructions were developed along side to aid the process, further development of the project will bring in an online portal to allow locals to upload their bird boxes to the web creating a database of sanctuary spots.

If you are interested in joining the project and running a workshop in your local community, feel free to contact me by email.

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