11 Jun 2024
In Conversation
Local artist, Orla Lawn on the creation of Spelk: Feature walls inside Myo St Paul's

Featured across three levels of our office transformation inside Myo St Paul’s, One New Change, is Spelk, by local artist, Orla Lawn.

Inspired by luxurious veneers and marble, Spelk is handcrafted panelling made from repurposed Oriented Strand Board (OSB) – a material commonly used in construction for heavy-duty purposes.

A truly sensory experience with a rough and splintered appearance, yet smooth to touch, Spelk is an innovative result of Orla Lawn’s in-depth research into hybrid craft processes.

We sat down with Orla to discuss her inspiration for materiality, creative and sustainable processes, and her experience working with Basha-Franklin for her first commercial project at Myo St Paul’s.

Image Credit: Peter Molloy
Image Credit: Peter Molloy
Tell us about yourself and what led your creative pathway to textiles?

From a young age, I was always interested in materials and how they could work in a space. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2018 studying textiles and architecture, I then started my own business from a workshop in Liverpool. I now work on small projects, large projects and retail.

What inspired you to create Spelk?

I wanted to make and build something, so I started looking around for an affordable and readily available material. After sampling with OSB offcuts, it immediately hit my criteria and ignited my creativity. Through rounds of experimentation – pulling it apart, soaking it, steaming it – I was led by the material to eventually find a technique that worked. And the result was like nothing I’d seen before.

Spelk feature walls located inside Myo St Paul's, One New Change (left)
Spelk feature walls located inside Myo St Paul's, One New Change (left)
Can you provide more details on your sustainable approach?

The more I’ve worked with OSB, the more I’ve noticed it being used in various settings, however unfortunately these are often temporary. As a result, the OSB is later discarded and thrown into landfill.

This inspired the foundation for my purpose – to transform and regenerate materials so it can serve a purpose for years to come. Sustainability isn’t just about reusing materials; it’s about taking it from something that doesn’t have an aesthetic value and turning it into something gorgeous, striking, and even more precious than before.

Do you have any thoughts on how the industry need to support independent designers and small businesses for being better for people and the planet?

Something I feel is hard for independent designers and small businesses is how overwhelming it can be working alongside bigger businesses and designers.

Smaller designers don’t have the same resources as big companies, so having the understanding, consideration and patience is so important. It makes a big difference to take the time, interest and care in something that isn’t mass produced, for people and the planet.

We thoroughly investigate the full lifecycle of every project, and cocreate with our partners to reduce impact at every opportunity.

Up close with Spelk on level two of Myo St Paul's, One New Change
Up close with Spelk on level two of Myo St Paul's, One New Change
What are the key takeaways or learnings you've had working with Basha-Franklin? How did you find the process?

Working with Basha-Franklin was incredibly seamless, and I loved that the team approached me to use Spelk in a way that had never been done before. As soon as we commenced, we were all very excited in anticipation for the end result.

Although I was worried because I couldn’t provide a sample, Basha-Franklin reassured me through the process and said, “We’re going to do this because we know it is going to look good and it’s going to work”. And it did. The end result is better than we could’ve imagined, and I felt like everyone appreciated and respected me and what I did, which I’m very grateful for. With large-scale projects, it’s easy to feel like someone that gets lost in the machine of bigger projects and bigger companies, but Basha-Franklin were lovely and made the whole process feel positive and collaborative.

What responses have you had from the end user?

First and foremost, people who experience Spelk are usually fascinated by the texture. Although from afar the product looks rough and splintered, when touched, they discover that it’s actually completely smooth. As a designer, it’s great to hear that Spelk stands out enough to draw people in for interaction and engagement.

What's next for Orla Lawn? Will you continue to pursue commercial opportunities following your work with B-F?

Yes definitely, I’ve never done anything of this size before and it feels like an ideal next step for Spelk. The design works really well within a commercial space as it brings engagement, interaction and colour in a way that is quite bold, but without detachment to the natural material.

I’m excited for what’s to come! Watch this space.

To discover more about Spelk by Orla LawnClick here
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