Seeing Eye to Eye

I briefly touched upon Eye of the World designs when I rounded up the Best of British open call day at Liberty.   If the BBC2 had made another series of Britain's Next Big Thing (which featured Liberty's open call and shot scarf designers such as Richard Weston to national fame), duo Liam Motyer and Hope von Joel would have a great story to tell.  Liam, an ex-primary school teacher who is passionate about woodworking and making things with his hands and his friend Hope, a stylist who started to comission Liam to make things for her shoots came together to form Eye of the World a little while ago.  They then started to create perspex and wooden belt buckles to accessorise knitwear designer Brooke Roberts' collection.  Now they've finding their feet in their particular accessories niche and are on the verge of exploring a multitude of avenues where Liam's woodworking skills and Hope's eye can come together, as well as doing an expanded range of belt accoutrements for next season.

When Liam first mentioned that he created most of their pieces at a woodworking workshop in Peckham, I was already intrigued enough to go down to the deep depths of South of the river, which if you know my North London ensconced ways, you'll know it takes a lot of coaxing to get me down South.  We started off in the lovely Brixton Village (plenty of good eats if you're stuck for a munchie place) where Liam and Hope have just set up a little design studio…




S/S 12 see their belts expand beyond the styles that were used to style up Brooke Robert's A/W 11-12 collection (now available at Browns).  Boiled sweets, orchids and popping colours infiltrate EOTW's jigsaw belts, a concept which means these rectangular pieces of perspex and blockwood can be strung up on a transparent belt in a mix and match fashion.  As I swivlled from the pictures of pick n' mix sweets to the assortment of perspex colours that were on offer, I couldn't help envisioning a sort of Eye of the World jigsaw belt pick n' mix bar – where someone could string up any colourful combination they wanted.  On a transparent belt, the point of these bits of waist candy aren't actually to cinch in an outfit or hold up some trousers but rather they become focal points to add extra decoration to a garment underneath, looking like these little blocks are floating on top of an outfit…









It's very difficult to emphasise the high quality finish of these pieces.  To touch them feems like holding a warmed-up pebble in your hand.  No chance of splinters or a rough edge to be found.  Both Hope and Liam meticulously finish off their belt pieces in a slightly OCD fashion to ensure the quality is top notch…



These more ornate belt buckle pieces are even more visually arresting as the shades of natural wood are buffed up into these ergonomically pleasing (my favourite Design Technology class phrase) shapes.  As static objects, they're beautiful to behold but as accessories, they mind boggles as to how else Liam's woodworking skills can be transferred to other areas…






For Liam and Hope, their Eye of the World designs are an artistic and craft-based expression.  What started off as a trail of one-off pieces for shoots has now accidentally developed into a range where there's no set-in-stone direction, which is what makes it quite exciting.  The idea of these statement belts floating on top of an outfit is a good starting point but I couldn't help but think that Liam and Hope could transfer their techniques to any type of accessories line.  Jewellery would be an obvious on.  A collaboration with a milliner perhaps.  Working with an apparel designer to embed wood and perspex into garments?  Eyewear that incorporated wood and perspex into the frames?  The list in my flighty head went on and on…



They've already started on headgear with this wooden halo created for Viewpoint magazine…


After the Brixton studio visit, Liam and Hope took me down to Peckham in their old red VW Beetle to show me their primary workspace – Hendzel + Hunt's workshop.  In return for Liam doing some intricate wood carving work for them, they allow him to create his pieces for Eye of the World in their workspace.  It felt like a woodworking commune where people can drop in to work on their own projects as well as operating as a highly creative furniture design studio.  Made in Peckham is slowly something that is gathering momentum if you're at all interested in London's changing postcode barometer.  The creative migration from East down to South East is already in full swing and Hendzel + Hunt are definitely part of this Peckham hub.  In fact they use the Made in Peckham tagline for a line of furniture they do. 


Liam's handiwork for Hendzel + Hunt can be seen in this beautifully carved porky centrepiece as part of an amazing feat of woodworking – "The Great Victorian Porkie Pie" created for this year's London Design Festival…



I couldn't help but be in awe of this vibrantly young group of craftsmen who are just totally dedicated to breaking conventions in furniture, most of the time using reclaimed wood sourced in the UK.  When I went to visit, they were in the midst of building a bespoke wardrobe unit for a gentleman's closet…


In fact, cabinets are their speciality and they have just created a rather spectacular advent calendar cabinet for the shoe floor of Selfridges, complete with 24 doors and all sorts of wooden combination locks, latches and catches.  They're also about to build a stiletto shoe closet, which they've called the 'Fragonard' after the French painter.  It's pretty much a done deal.  When I win the lottery, which is a line I begin many sentences with, I'm coming straight to Hendzel + Hunt to commission my fantastical closet, a much-needed upgrade from my trusty Ikea Stolmen…

IMG_9133 Selfridges



Apologies if I've gone off tangent but the point is that Eye of the World benefit from being in this woodworking hub in order to create their accessories.  Liam showed me an example of reclaimed blockwood, which apparently came from a butterfly cabinet in the Natural History Museum – just one of the many storied bits of wood which EOTW use for their designs….


He then roughly demonstrated the cutting, sanding and buffing process of a one belt jigsaw piece…





It felt incredibly uplifting and positive just to experience the workshop in action and it's easy to see why Eye of the World have allied themselves with the likes of Hendzel + Hunt.  "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" is entirely appropriate for this comraderie of people who are entirely dedicated to craft and creativity and ultimately, this little trip beyond my postcode comfort zone only demonstrates to me how ideal it would be to properly perpetuate this idea of high quality manufacture in the UK in other areas of fashion and design. 

21 Replies to “Seeing Eye to Eye”

  1. very good !! I love those belts made of wood and the other accessories.It reminds me some parisians designers ( I always forget their names ) who do this same of new way of things. It will be so successful during the next summer because I am not sure that it could be wearable during Winter. Anyway, so nice !!

  2. please where can I get the belts, I love love love them any chance you can list the stockist if any. Merci

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