Meet the Maker - Polar

Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Do you like red & white?  You do?  Well then, let me introduce you to the talented duo that go by the name of Polar.  Combined, they create a diverse range of products all with a red & white theme.  Over to Polar for more:

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work? 
Hello, we are Hannah Buswell and Keith Hancox the boyfriend and girlfriend team who make up Polar, the red and white shop. After working full time for a while we set up Polar as a chance to pool together our creative knowledge and produce items that we wanted to own and at times were a little bit silly! After all, who said work has to be boring? We have very few restrictions on what we produce, so long as it’s red and white, anything goes. 
Apart from creating things what else do you do? 
As well as running Polar we also work as a graphic designer (Keith) and a lecturer and knitwear designer (Hannah). We like to keep busy and find that everything feeds into one another in the end! Plus we’ve met some brilliant people through our various jobs including the fabulous printers who produce all our cards. 

When did you know you were an artist/maker? 
Hannah: Keith and I met at school and have always been creative. Keith always knew he wanted to be a graphic designer and followed that route from GCSE’s right through to his degree and getting a job. I on the other hand have had a bit of a more varied journey. I knew I wanted to create objects but it wasn’t until I did an art and design foundation that I decided to go down the fashion route. I then went on to do a degree specialising in womens wear knitwear followed by an MA at the Royal College of Art. I’ve always loved education which is probably whilst I’ve continued to lecture even now I’m finished with my studies and I think knitwear appealed to me as I love creating things with my hands. 

What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline? 
Keith: The people I get to meet and the things I learn. Graphic designers learn something new with every project they work on leading to some very unusual conversations (quiz answers) in the pub! 
Hannah: I love the variety. One day I can be sewing streams of paper tinsel and the next day I’m creating patterns and shapes on my knitting machine. I’ve got a short attention span so being able to chop and changes keeps me happy. 

Where does your inspiration come from? 
We’re great believers in the phrase ‘inspiration is everywhere’(in fact Keith’s even been known to give a talk or two on the subject). We like the idiosyncrasies of everyday life and find these are normally the things that make us smile the most. We love simple, graphic and clean design that lets the idea do the talking. 
Describe your studio or workspace? 
We currently work from our little top floor flat in Bath. It has giant windows that let in tons of light and a little balcony which we encourage the neighbourhood garden birds to visit. We work from two tables one is set up for all the graphics and computer work we do and the other is a space for the knitting and sewing machine. This also doubles up as our kitchen table so our spaces are constantly changing! We have a big pin board where we put inspiration, reminders and notes and a large shelving space which houses all our stock and materials. We try to be super organised otherwise Polar ends up taking over the whole of the flat, plus we’re the unusual creative types that come in the form of neat freaks! 

If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive),who would it be
Keith: Alan Fletcher, I reckon he’d have some interesting things hidden in those plan chests. 
Hannah: Sonia Rykiel in the 70’s when her design studio was really taking over Paris! 

How would you describe your creative process? 
Keith: It’s usually a fairly organic process, we are sparked off by something we’ve seen or said to one another and then we start sketching out rough ideas. I always carry a sketchbook, so most things are recorded in there. 
Hannah: I’m more of a jump in and give it a go kind of gal. I’m not one for spending huge amounts of time planning and tend to make basic prototypes and learn as I go, adapting and changing until we have the perfect product. 
Both: Sometimes we like to produce small ‘collections’ based around one idea, for example we’ll create one graphic looking animal and then decide it should be part of a set and then that it should appear on cards and as badges too. 

What handmade possession do you most cherish? 
Hannah: I have some really beautiful handmade earrings that my parents bought me when I graduated from the Royal College of Art. They’re really simple, but totally perfect for me. 
Keith: My worry dolls! Hannah bought them back from a trip for me about 8 years ago and they’ve slept under my pillows ever since. 

What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut? 
We take a trip. Whether it’s a trip to the seaside, a visit to London or just a walk around the park, we normally find a bit of time out helps us get back to work. 

Which is your favourite local independent shop or eatery in Bristol & why? 
As we’re Bath based, we thought we’d break the trend and tell you about our favourite places in Bath instead! 
Keith: Society Café – bikes, photography and amazing coffee what more could you ask for? Oh yes massive cakes too! 
Hannah: I love having brunch at the Wild Café, they do the best full English in Bath and always use amazing sausages. 

Where would you like to be in ten years? 
We would love to have our own shop with a design studio above it. We’d split our time by working on various outside projects and designing stock for our shop. The shop would be full of amazing red and white design pieces from all over the design community, including furniture, fashion, gifts and stationary. That’s the dream!

Thank you Hannah & Keith a really interesting interview.  We love your red & white world, so colourful and happy.  You can find Polar's work in our Paper Scissors Stone shop now!

Paper Scissors Stone
Quakers Friars
Cabot Circus
Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 5pm

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