Mac Collins is one of the designers who contributed to Finnish brand Vaarnii’s debut collection. Collins’ wooden bowls perfectly capture the brand’s unique aesthetics, where brutalism meets sophistication.
MAC COLLINS is one of the designers who was invited to design products for the first collection of the Finnish brand Vaarnii. Collins, who graduated as a designer in 2018, strives to bring out the inherent beauty of each material in his work – this also holds true for the pinewood bowls he designed for Vaarnii.
Hi Mac! Could you first tell us a bit about your background?
“I am a furniture and object designer of mixed heritage, Jamaican and British. I am originally from Nottingham in the Midlands of the UK but traveled to Newcastle in the Northeast of the country to study 3D Design at Northumbria University.
I became a designer almost by accident; it had not been my intention through school and college. I had always been artistically minded but had not known where or what the potential industries were, or how to access them. Sharp tutors along the way had guided me towards university, and a course in design seemed the logical direction. From the first day of university, I realized that the path that had been revealed to me was the right one, and I have been eager to find my place in the design industry ever since.”
How did you end up collaborating with Vaarnii?
“The collaboration was instigated by Vaarnii who reached out to me last year. They had collated an impressive roster of designers who would all be contributing to the inaugural collection. It was humbling to have been asked to create work alongside such established individuals and studios.
The identity and narrative behind the new Finnish company appealed to me, and I am glad to have been involved from the beginning of, what I am sure will be, a good journey.”
What was the inspiration behind the wooden bowls you created for the brand?
“The inspiration for the bowls was drawn from the narrative of Vaarnii. The bowls were designed to have a brutal yet characterful and playful presence. The shallow curve of the bowl would contrast with the heavy squared rim around it, and the numerous thick limbs below, to create an object with a stocky and stable stature.
“It was important that the bowls' form would suggest a sense of sturdy, confident longevity.”
In line with the Vaarnii narrative, these objects are intended to last a long time. It was important that their form would suggest that same sense of sturdy, confident longevity. The bowls are shallow to also prolong the life of the contents. A wide and shallow bowl to hold up and present the fruit, instead of containing or trapping it.”
What was the design process like?
“There was a natural back-and-forth between myself and Vaarnii to ensure that the design fell in line with the collection that, despite all being designed by separate designers, needed some sense of cohesion between pieces. Within the design process, there was a distinctive point where the design found its place within the wider collection, and we knew that it was complete.”
Where do you find inspiration for your work in general?
“Inspiration comes from a number of sources. I often draw inspiration from music and stories; the two main components that create an atmosphere or environment in my mind where the things I design exist. These components also influence the kinds of characters I imagine interacting with the objects, and the presence they would have within these mentally conceived spaces.
There are a number of artists, designers and musicians whose practices, abilities or personalities are particularly inspirational – Simone Brewster, Wendy Andreu, Athi-Patra Ruga and Chris Ofili, to name some.”
What do you have lined up next?
“I have been chosen as one of 20 young designers from around the world to participate in Discovered, a project run by Wallpaper* and The American Hardwoods Export Council (AHEC) for an exhibition at The Design Museum London, in September. Alongside this exhibition, I also have a number of projects that are ticking away steadily in the background, most set to launch around the same time at the end of summer 2021.”
Text: Emmi Ratilainen Images: Vaarnii, Mac Collins