I have quite a loose definition of art but I think that it's an expression of something.

Kyla McCallum
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Kyla McCallum's 'Leah' lampshades at Plinth.

Kyla MacCallum creates bespoke lighting, innovative set designs and artwork inspired by origami and geometry, from her Foldability design studio in East London. She created a unique lighting installation at Plinth’s pop-up space at Great Russell Street this spring and also designed the ‘snowflake’ inspired cover for Elle Decoration’s Christmas 2015 issue. Part of a new design collective in East London, spanning makers, artisans and designers, Kyla’s work was included in cult design title, ‘Makers of East London.’

Plinth writer Emily Watkins asked Kyla McCallum about her personal experiences of visual art, and how the London art world influences her own work.

EW

What do you do? How close to the ‘art world’ do you consider yourself?

KM

I run a design studio called Foldability, creating set design and interior products inspired by origami and geometry. These days my work sways more towards design so although I'm involved in the creative industries, my work is not often shown within the 'art world'.

EW

How do you define art?

KM

That's a hard question! I have quite a loose definition of art but I think that it's an expression of something. There can be a specific intention from the artist to evoke a certain reaction or emotion by the viewer of the art, but this more often than not cannot be controlled or necessarily defined.

I collect a lot of imagery and have hundreds of folders with titles including 'giant things', 'blue', 'eggs', 'illustration' and 'polka-dots'.

Kyla McCallum
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EW

What’s your earliest memory of visual art?

KM

Creating pasta pictures at my friend's house when I was in primary school. Does this count?!

EW

How does the art you see inform your own work?

KM

I collect a lot of imagery and have hundreds of folders with titles including 'giant things', 'blue', 'eggs', 'illustration' and 'polka-dots'. When I start a new project I often look through these folders or in books for inspiration.

EW

How have your tastes in art changed over the course of your career?

KM

I used to enjoy abstract art a lot more, but now as I've been working a lot with sharp geometric lines and symmetry, I'm a lot more drawn to controlled art with quite bold, graphic forms that are precise and involve meticulous detail. The more things I create, the more I appreciate the process behind how things are made and am drawn to work which clearly took a lot of time and patience.

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EW

What’s been your favourite exhibition of 2016 so far?

KM

I'm really sad to say I haven't been to any yet! I was really looking forward to seeing the Charles & Ray Eames exhibition at the Barbican but silly me left it until the final day to go but it was already sold out!

EW

Are you ever inspired by art created in a different sphere to your own? (i.e., music if you’re a visual artist, visual art if you’re a writer?)

KM

I am often inspired by painting, sculpture, illustration and fashion.

'There is a part of me that wants to hold on to the traditional methods and the skills that have been passed down through generations.'

Kyla McCallum
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EW

How would you explain London’s creative zeitgeist at the moment? How do you draw on it?

KM

As technology is becoming more and more involved in people's daily lives, I see many artists and designers who are looking back to before technology existed and are working with traditional techniques which are dying out. On the other hand, there are a lot of people embracing technology and using this as there main medium. I think the contrast is quite fascinating and is something I've recently been questioning with my own work. I'm trying to use technology to speed up and advance old techniques such as pleating fabric, but there is a part of me that wants to hold on to the traditional methods and the skills that have been passed down through generations. There's something really incredible about techniques that are done solely by hand, even though they are perhaps not the most efficient. I'm sure this is something which will not get lost but it's interesting to see how these changes are shifting many people's creative practice.

See more of Kyla's work at foldability.co.uk