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2 people sat on a multicoloured bench in London

Porter + Trundle at Top Drawer

Written by Eleanor Harvey
Published date 28 May 2020

Last year Porter + Trundle took part in Spotted at Top Drawer, UAL's stand at the UK’s leading design-led trade show for gifts and interior products. 

Sarah Emily Porter and James Trundle are the duo behind Porter + Trundle, whose approach to design produces visually challenging and technically complex objects. Both Sarah and James have studied at UAL; Sarah completed her Graduate Diploma in Fine Art at Chelsea in 2016, whilst James studied on the Central Saint Martins (CSM) Art & Design Foundation course. For Sarah, the Graduate Diploma was the perfect course for someone ‘who already hold a degree but in a subject unrelated to art’, and for James, the Foundation course felt like a fresh start; ‘even when I broke the rules I was both chastised and praised’.

We caught up with them to find out more about their practice, as well as what it was like taking part in Top Drawer.

2 people stood in their workshop
James and Sarah, the duo behind Porter + Trundle. Caption

How did Porter + Trundle come about?

We have similar outlooks to our individual practices. We’re both perfectionists, interested in the exploration of process and form, and had always discussed how we could collaborate with other makers to share ideas through a maker space. However, it wasn’t until James helped me fabricate a sculpture, which later went on to win the Broomhill National Sculpture Prize in 2018, that we realised the benefit of working together. From that point on we started applying for opportunities as an artistic duo and Porter + Trundle was born!

a multicoloured bench in London
Correlated Journeys. © Agnese Sanvito Caption

Congratulations – last year you won the London Festival of Architecture City Benches Competition, and the Richard Seager Annual Arts Award! How did that feel?

2019 was a bit of a whirlwind year. We entered the London Festival of Architecture City Benches Competition on a bit of a whim. Neither of us are traditionally trained architects so we were thrilled when we received a phone call to tell us we’d been picked as one of the winners. London’s one of the great capitals of the World so it was a real privilege to make and exhibit our bench design outside the Royal Exchange at Bank Station - it’s not an opportunity that comes around often!

Completely different was the Richard Seager Annual Arts Award which was a very humbling experience. The prize enabled us to make and install our winning pergola design at a Children’s Hospice in Dorset. The completed design transformed a rather bleak garden into a brighter more joyful place that celebrates life.

Multi coloured bars over a bench.
© Porter + Trundle Caption

You were in the Top Drawer trade show with UAL; what was that experience like?

Top Drawer was fun, at this point in our career we are eager to embrace every opportunity we get, if only to see what happens. This was a great excuse to establish our brand identity and create some new objects, dipping a toe into the commercial realm. We definitely feel more legitimate as a result and we have consequently secured a number of commissions. It was also wonderful to meet all the other participants, a really great group of people at a similar stage in their careers.

multicoloured bars linked to create a small side table
Loop side table. © Porter + Trundle Caption

What is next for you both?

We’ve just been selected to participate in the 2020 Craft Council Hothouse Programme which provides mentoring and networking to a select group of makers. We’re also launching a new range of design-led objects that explore sustainable processes. You can continue to find out what we’re up to @Porter_Trundle on Instagram.

a piece of wood looped to make a sheld
Loop shelf. © Porter + Trundle Caption

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