Meet the ReFound Team! Say hello to our in-house design intern Chris Banks

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Curate, Create, Collaborate – that’s what ReFound is all about. And by collaboration we mean people; whether it be the creative collaborators we partner with to make, create and design or the team who work behind the scenes at ReFound to bring those creative products to you! We currently have 4 interns working with us, who all take on different roles at ReFound ranging from design, retail, PR and business development. From various backgrounds with a a diverse range of career interests, these folks all contribute something individual to ReFound to help find their creative niche…..

So let’s meet that team to  find out what it’s like to be involved with ReFound on placement and what kinds of creative tricks you can get up to!

Chris Banks is an applied art graduate from Belfast School of Art who has recently taken on a 6 month placement with us creating innovative ‘ReFound’ products such as the fabulous new letterpress tray tables. Here he tells us a little bit about himself and his role as in-house designer-maker at ReFound….

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Tell us a bit about yourself, what is your background and experience?

My name is Chris, I’m 24 years old and just recently married. My wife and I both went to Belfast School of Art where I graduated in 2013 with a degree in Contemporary Applied Art (Ceramics, Glass, Silver-smithing and Jewellery). For my final show, I made a huge collection of useful-looking (but useless!) objects from various materials such as ceramic, glass, metal and other things I found. They’re a celebration of the overlooked and mundane things we use every day. I love combining found things that have a previous context or story, with newly created elements and materials.

How did you come to be involved with ReFound?

I had been in and out of the showroom a few times and thought, ‘I would love to be involved with what’s happening here somehow.’ Although I hadn’t got a furniture design background, I love making thinsg and I’m drawn to the Refound ethos of giving an object a new lease of life with a little bit of creativity.

There’s a lot of different strands to what ReFound does from design to retail and events   – can you tell us a bit more about your role and the projects you have been involved with?

I work in the Refound workshop on various projects to varying degrees. Sometimes I’ll get a one-off piece that needs a big transformation. I’ll come up with ideas, research how to go about it and then get stuck in. On other occasions I might try to think how to apply a new process to a batch of similar products. For example, at the moment I’m working with a bunch of quirky, old printer’s trays and incorporating them as a sliding drawer feature into existing coffee tables (see image above). It involves responding to what’s already there, and fabricating a design around that. I’ve also been involved in coming up with ideas for the shop window display.

Click here to see a video of Chris talking about his printer tray coffee tables!

How have you been able to use your creative skills during your placement?

At Art College, I didn’t just learn how to use one sole material well; I learnt how to find out what skills were needed for an idea and how to acquire them. The creative processes of brainstorming, experimenting and working through an idea to completion have all really benefited me working at Refound. Also, you tend to soak up a lot of transferable skills and ideas in a creative atmosphere like Art College, especially an awareness of what direction contemporary art and design is heading.

Would you recommend a placement with ReFound and what are the benefits you have got from it? (SELL US! How has it improved your CV, other opportunities coming out of it, experience, career pathway direction etc.)

Refound has helped me to build on the skills I had by adding countless new techniques and knowledge. The nature of the products that Refound makes means that you are constantly stretching yourself, thinking through problems, learning new skills and connecting the dots between different disciplines. Not only that, but you inevitably become part of a varied network of creative industries, businesses and people. So it’s not just another string to the bow, it’s a fantastic, rich experience to be able to put on your C.V! On the day of writing this, I got invited by someone to be part of an exhibition of artists who use found materials and upcycling, all because the organiser knew I worked at Refound and decided to look at my artist website.

Getting into the creative industries is a tough business for graduates these days –do you have any advice for others wanting to start their career off in the arts?

It’s hard work; you really have to push yourself to try new things and keep going when it doesn’t work out at first. But getting involved with Refound has really helped because it gave me time and space to be creative and work with my hands, so I would highly recommend going for any internship opportunities that come up – for that and all the reasons I listed above. Also, there are lots of great funding opportunities for artists through the arts council and other organisations – time spent researching in this area is not time wasted!

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

I’m hoping to do a Masters diploma in Ceramics and see what opportunities that opens up. Ultimately I’d love to be able to make being a practicing artist financially viable, through teaching, providing skills to other companies and who knows – maybe even selling some of my own work!

Thanks Chris! Watch this space for more interviews with our placement schemers. If you like what you read and fancy getting involved with ReFound, we are always looking for new entrepreneurial, enthusiastic and extra-special collaborators! Go to our Get Involved page or contact us at enquiries@refoundonline.com. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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