We caught up with Christian Bird – senior designer at international design and branding agency Design Bridge, just round the corner from LLUSTRE HQ in Clerkenwell. He is also the designer behind the fabulous Edge of Belgravia knives – whose design is as sharp as their zircomium oxide (yup, that’s right) ceramic blades.
SO DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO BE A DESIGNER?
I’ve always loved design, probably before I knew what the word meant. I was always drawing and making things as a kid. If you have strong ideas as your basis for doing something, you can make anything.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH EDGE OF BELGRAVIA?
I met Freddie Ostland through a mutual friend. I was really interested in his idea – to make really striking high quality kitchenware.Freddie had done a lot of research about ceramic blades and he really wanted to do a range of knives. The brief was to design a knife you wouldn’t want to put in a drawer. There are similarities to Alessi there, I suppose – kitchen tools that look so great you’d leave them out on display.
So Freddie and I teamed up. My brother is a chef, so I had some insight into that world. I also did a sushi course and a cocktail making course to get a feel for the kinds of tools you might need to produce professional quality cooking. I get to do that kind of thing quite a lot in my job, actually – one of the perks of being a designer!
Freddie met up with lots of head chefs in Belgravia and asked them to use the knives in their kitchens – they were properly tested in the field! So the knives don’t just look great, they’re rated very highly by the professionals.
THE BRIEF WAS TO DESIGN A KNIFE YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO PUT IN A DRAWER.
SO WHAT’S YOUR PROUDEST CULINARY CREATION?
I’m not sure, but my brother can do all kinds of creative things in the kitchen – honestly, with these knives, you can be really creative.
TELL US ABOUT THE CERAMIC KNIVES – HOW DO YOU MAKE A KNIFE OUT OF CERAMICS? AND WHY DON’T YOU EVER NEED TO SHARPEN IT?
The ceramic blade is made up of zirconium oxide in a very specific process. The blade is forged under a very high pressure – hundreds of tonnes. That makes a very tight molecular structure, which means it’s pretty tough. Once it’s been sharpened you don’t need to sharpen it for years.
YUP, THEY’RE PRETTY SHARP, BUT WE ALSO LOVE THE WAY THEY LOOK AND FEEL.
The whole concept is that the look of the knives is inspired by the blades themselves. I think they’re very striking, I mean, they look sharp! But each facet of the handle is designed to fit very neatly in the hand, so you get all the support you need to cut safely and precisely. The slightly rubberized handle gives added grip. But there’s also a weird sensation thing going on – it looks really sharp, but it feels really comfortable in your hand.
ONCE IT’S BEEN SHARPENED YOU DON’T NEED TO SHARPEN IT FOR YEARS.
WHAT’S WITH THE BOLD COLOURS?
At first, we started with the jet black range, but were drawn to the idea of collections, something personal – we’d like to produce different ranges in different colours. I think the sharp green colour really adds to the overall concept.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AND EDGE OF BELGRAVIA?
We’re exploring new products to complement the range of knives, so expect to see some interesting new designs!
YOU’RE A SENIOR DESIGNER AT DESIGN BRIDGE – HOW DOES THAT COMPARE TO WORKING WITH EDGE OF BELGRAVIA?
At Design Bridge, I’m heavily involved in branding across lots of disciplines from the structure, to graphics, digital and communications. I find it a really interesting way to work and a more traditional way of designing. In the past many designers and agencies were multidisciplinary. Look at Conran, Fletcher/Forbes/Gill – all working across a wide range of design services. At the heart of design, its all about ideas.
I come from an old school of design, I was taught by Ray Gregory– Ray is very well known in the design industry, he instilled a great design ethic in his students which revolved around defining the question behind the problem at hand and then solving it. I found that approach inspiring and I think our approach to creative strategy at Design Bridge- digging deeper and working across lots of disciplines is really beneficial to our clients.
AT DESIGN BRIDGE, I’M HEAVILY INVOLVED IN BRANDING ACROSS LOTS OF DISCIPLINES FROM STRUCTURE, TO GRAPHICS, DIGITAL AND COMMUNICATIONS. I FIND IT A REALLY INTERESTING WAY TO WORK AND A MORE TRADITIONAL WAY OF DESIGNING.
So I have the best of both worlds, I work on really creative international projects as a senior designer at Design Bridge and on a product in my own time that I’ve designed closely with the manufacturer. It’s a direct, creative process, but also really good fun!
AND WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU REMEMBER MAKING?
A guitar. That’s when I fell in love with design – when I realized you could make something yourself. It sounded bloody awful, and it looked pretty bad too! I’ve still got it actually, I’m working on getting another guitar manufactured right now. It’s a bass guitar, and I hope it’s going to look and sound a lot better than the first one!