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Sara Mellone designs and produces her own brand of minimal furniture and homeware in London. She uses the inherent properties of her chosen materials to create forms with structural simplicity and a poetic character.

Understanding materials

Originally from Germany, Sara trained as a goldsmith before applying her understanding of material properties to the world of product design. "I think you still see a bit of that influence in my work," she explains. "I've learnt how materials behave and so I don't want to force a material into a certain shape - I want to work with the right material for the right product."

The designer still takes a hands-on approach to developing her ideas, rapidly producing paper models to test concepts and iterate forms. "I think to fold a sheet of paper is the easiest way to design," she says. "You don't even need a pen to sketch anything - you just need a sheet of paper in your hands and you can visualise a lot of ideas quite fast."

Designing and making in London

At her London studio, Sara moves between a jeweller's workbench in one corner, where she produces tiny accurate maquettes of her designs, and a workshop at the other end of the space where she uses a series of formers to fold sheets of aluminium into full-size prototypes.

She shares this workspace with three other independent designers, located in the brick warehouse of a former peanut-packing factory in Bow - a district in the east of the city that hosts a knot of creative studios in disused industrial buildings close to the Olympic park.

Award-winning ideas

After training as a goldsmith, Sara went on to study applied art and design in Düsseldorf. The designer's first collection grew out of her award-winning graduation project, entitled The Simple Things, in which she sought the simplest possible method of creating a piece of furniture. The resulting designs are made by putting just four folds in a single sheet of aluminium.

Following critical success with this debut, Sara decided to establish her own company to produce and distribute the products herself. Each piece is manufactured by a small firm in Vienna. "You have to pick carefully who will make the product, the level of quality and how it will be sold," she says. "That's what I like about producing it myself - having the control over all these things."

I think to fold a sheet of paper is the easiest way to design. You don't even need a pen to sketch anything - you just need a sheet of paper in your hands.

Sara Mellone

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