Michael McManus is one half of Dust London, a collaborative design company who create homeware from organic materials. Michael completed his Foundation degree at Byam Shaw, Central Saint Martins (CSM) in 2009 and graduated from the BA (Hons) Fine Art course at Wimbledon in 2012. During his time at Wimbledon, he was encouraged to experiment with a variety of studio processes to find new ways of exploring his interests. This approach to design was influential to his work following graduation.
Whilst studying art and architecture, Michael and Matthew Grant (the other half of Dust London) developed creative interests and had talked about collaborating on a project for some time. Matthew studied architecture at Manchester and graduated in 2013, which comes across clearly in their designs. He shared a similar passion for handmade processes and minimal design. They began living together in Camberwell, London and started a search for a local studio space that could accommodate their needs.
Dust London’s approach to design draws on their experiences in both artist and architecture studios, using both sculptural and decorative elements to create contemporary homeware. They were keen to step away from the computerised and the mechanistic, and instead, they allowed each form to evolve from handmade processes.
Michael and Matthew wanted to change the way materials are conventionally used and had the ambition to create objects from natural materials; they eventually chose tea waste for its range of natural pigments and subtle textures.
Their growing collection transforms tea waste into elegant objects using a unique process they have developed in their studio through years of experimenting; “We make moulds using traditional origami techniques. To begin with, we carefully separate the tea waste into five variations. Each selection is thoroughly dried and carefully mixed within a non-toxic binder. Once we have achieved the desired consistency, the material is ready to pour.”
They have recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand their collection. Currently, each mould is made with a temporary material that limits their ability to scale up production. Each Kickstarter pledge will go towards creating permanent moulds that will allow them to bring more of their designs to life. With each pledge, they are recycling more of this waste and with your support, their collection can continue to grow.
From the soft and subtle green hues of their peppermint tea range to the rich warmth of the rooibos collection, Dust London achieves a wide variety of colours and surface patterns. Three distinct objects can be found on their Kickstarter campaign, with each one available in 5 tea variations. These objects celebrate the possibilities in bringing the organic into the design.
Dust London’s ambition to change the way we recycle continues to inspire their studio work. In the future they plan to find more innovative ways of transforming natural materials into sculptural pieces of homeware, combining handmade processes with experimental techniques in their studio.