LCW X KEF: Machine Focus | James Shaw
Designer James Shaw’s method of producing plastic is unique. The extrusion process itself isn’t unusual in the making of plastic objects, but the machines that do it are usually room-sized; far larger than Shaw’s own-designed “extrusion guns”, which sit comfortably on the small work table in his shared studio in South London.
It’s a method he developed during his time at the Royal College of Art, and has been fine-tuning since. Shaw’s machines, like many workshop machines, are noisy ones – an ambient squeal that means ear defenders are an important tool of the trade. And thus, one of the more common experiences of makers is born: the focus that can come from an inescapable white noise.
In 2018, he co-curated an exhibition during the London Design Festival called Plasticscene, showing the works of 14 designers – including Shaw – challenging the perceptions of waste plastic. Using plastic fired from his self-built extrusion gun, Shaw presented the “Plastic Baroque Dining Table”, breathing a new lease of life into plastic waste sourced from east London recycling centres.
It’s an exciting time to work with plastic, says Shaw, as – just as with oak in the Middle Ages – today there is undoubtedly an abundance with it. To find ways to reuse the material is crucial.
The Sound of Craftsmanship is an editorial collaboration between London Craft Week and KEF.