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Philip Crewe

MA work

Whitlore - material culture of the Isle of Wight

This project has served as a platform to explore different ways of creating material culture of the Isle of Wight, as a way of developing my practice as a designer/maker on the island. The realisation of this project is a disparate collection of storied objects - objects that are valued for how they are made and relevant for how they are used. To do this I have been less concerned with manifesting Isle of Wight-ness on an aesthetic or material level (although I have played with both of these), but by focusing on the relationship cultivated through engagement with the objects.

The unofficial motto of the Isle of Wight is “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow”, this relaxed pace of life is partially derived from the island’s spectacular landscape – if you’re already here then why try harder? Every year many people seek out this philosophy and landscape, what objects could help them on their search? What makes an object imbue these values when removed from its island home?

Over the course of this project I have materialised an old dialect word, taken an artefact though a journey of speculative evolution, imbedded the islands ethos with the help of a local foraging expert and captured old folk tales of smugglers, shipwreck and booze through a material collaboration.

Through my dissertation I developed an interest in exploring how vernacular creativity creates and cements material culture, drawing parallels with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on the transfer of psychic energy and Jonathan Chapmans concept of emotionally durable objects. Whilst at the RCA I visited folk archives to see physical relics of vernacular creativity. One thing I quickly learnt is that there is no ‘folk aesthetic’ as such. So much of historic folk culture in Britain is talked about in terms of art, but most of how the vernacular affected their space was by creating objects that fulfilled a role relevant to them in that time and place. Without the grand narrative of art, it is often hard for an audience not just to see a bunch of curiously shaped dark and dusty bits of wood. 


  • MA Degree


    School of Design


    MA Design Products, 2017



  • espergaerde - a workshop of curious things

    Nestled amount sheer cliffs, chines and stories, just across the sea from here is my workshop espergaerde. It’s named after the haunting sprits that are said to look out along the cliffs of Brighstone bay. From there I make with one foot in vernacular folklore and half-a-step aside from contemporary culture. Working somewhere between narrative and utility to create objects for those daily actions, appurtenant through the relationships people cultivate with them. Storied objects - objects that are valued for how they are made and relevant for how they are used.

  • Degrees

  • Transport and Product design, Coventry University, 2009
  • Experience

  • Designer/Maker, espergaerde, Brighstone, 2008 – present; Product designer, Echo Brand Design, London, 2010 – 2015
  • Exhibitions

  • Clay People, End of the road & Secret Garden Party, 2011
  • Awards

  • Finalist, Designboom Design For All, 2010; Winner, FIAT - Design the Italian way, 2007; 2nd Prize, DesignHUB Over the Fence, 2007