Heal’s & Jeremy Hutchison

December 22, 2010

Take your elbows off the table and listen: Heal’s has teamed up with an innovative young designer to create a stunning new collection of ‘Heal’s Rules’ homeware…

Earlier this year, Slade School of Art student Jeremy Hutchison cheekily took Ambrose Heal’s 1915 logo: ‘NOTHING NEED BE UGLY‘ and turned it into ‘the iconography of a totalitarian state’ for an Artist-in-Residence window display at Heal’s. “I wanted to critique the way that modernist design makes us behave: like polite robots,” he explained. “Curiously, my critique was licensed by the brand itself. An institutional critique – assimilated by the institution itself. I’m still getting my head around it!” Heal’s has now commissioned Jeremy to create a whole range of products and has plastered his designs across mass-produced tableware, doormats, framed prints, postcards, bags, mints and cushions. Oh, the irony!

The collection launches in February, but the charming Mr Hutchison gave me a sneak preview. “I consulted my granny when I was designing it,” he told me. “The pieces feature rules that we’re all familiar with – ‘elbows off the table’, ‘eat your greens or get no pudding’– the range mocks the rigidity of British manners and etiquette.”

Jeremy started his career in advertising (working for brands such as Coca Cola) which he regarded as “research” and has likened to “working in the upper management of a well-run religion.” According to his website: “The ability to co-exist in multiple fields is essential to his work – he slips in unnoticed, and politely moves the goal posts.”

His designs remind me a bit of of washing instruction symbols on clothing labels – logos you can just glance at and instantly understand their meaning. We absorb so many ‘rules’ as we grow up – perhaps their meanings are similarly ingrained in our brains? Hutchison’s rather sinister vision is a prison-like domestic space filled with rigid rules, regulations and conventions, from which there is no escape…

Jeremy Hutchison is definitely ONE TO WATCH. He’s been a busy boy of late, collaborating here, there and everywhere – check out his digital CCTV-themed Christmas window display at Browns on South Molton Street in London:

Of course, rules are there to be broken – just looking at Jeremy’s ‘fascistic iconography’ makes me want to rebel. My elbows are definitely ON the table. – Ellie