When did our home dining experience become that white-ended cutlery pack? You know the very ones. Almost every house you went to growing up had that cutlery; some more weathered and fire scathed than others. And for some peculiar reason it was always more forks and knives than spoons. So mainstream. But should your style end with your wardrobe? Heavens no. Whether you’re looking to dazzle dinner guests or just take your meals to the next level [seriously, there’s research validating that your cutlery impacts the taste of your food], isn’t it time we put a little more effort in our cutlery / flatware? Meet Diana Carmichael. A contemporary tableware designer who does just that.
Although she was born in Singapore, she grew up in Zimbabwe where she pursued her studies in jewellery design and manufacturing. Her move to Johannesburg in 1981 saw her transition from jewellery designer, to graphic designer and freelance artist. All this was in pursuit of her true passion and it wasn’t until 1995 that she in fact found it. Taking all her skills and wrapping them up in distinctive design talent and style, she decided to make tableware and accessories. [Imagine having that conversation with your African parents.] Not just any wares mark you. Her company- Diana Carmichael Artworks CC – would specialise in manufacturing and distributing timeless pewter tableware with stainless steel utensil inserts.
Working with the influences of textures and forms from the African continent, Diana and her team create hand-made collections of complete tableware lines. Each piece boasts a refined exclusivity thanks to a couple of elements. For starters, a lot of the process is done by hand. Each piece is hand-moulded in a casting process that fuses stainless steel and lead-free pewter for the functionality aspect; making it easy to hold and at the perfect weight. After that, they’re taken through a five step finishing process that calls for extreme attention to detail. Then there’s the fact that she uses pewter.
Firstly, pewter is a malleable tin alloy, which makes the wares corrosion resistant and adds that extra sheen to the products. Within pewter there are tiny segments of copper and antimony. The former lowers the pewters melting temperature making it an ideal metal for the casting process, while the latter manifestly ensures that the metal gets the entire sharp, comprehensive impressions from the mould. And the great thing is, in the event a piece doesn’t pass the stringent quality control checks, it can easily be re-melted and used to create a new piece. Which is considered eco-friendly.
The results are striking gifts or idiosyncratic accessories for the modern living habitat. Existing collections for Diana Carmichael Artworks CC include: Cheetah Africa, Crystal d’Afrique (which incorporated genuine Swarovski crystals), Impondo Zulu (Inspired by the Springbok), studded (Inspired by the skill of traditional Bamileke craftsmen), Noble & Noblesse, ribbon (drawn from her fascination of the natural environment) and Usiba Lwe Nyoni (motivated by the ostrich-inspired cultures on the continent). Interestingly, she returned to jewellery making as well after a sabbatical. To create the jewellery collection she deconstructed the tableware and renovated it into distinctive jewellery pieces.
To add to the drama of it all, each piece is packaged in a branded gift box complete with its own distinctive care card. Unlike the cluttered cutlery drawer in most kitchens, these items will need a little TLC to keep them in their original state for longer. With proper care they can last generations.
Production may have started with a single designer teaspoon but Diana Carmichael Artworks CC has certainly grown from humble beginnings. Thanks to meticulous craftsmanship and a fine attention to detail, her company’s initials carry the weight of an assurance that you’re not only getting an original piece, but also skilled excellence. By following her inspiration from traditional African art and life, she has been able to establish herself as one of the most élite and sophisticated pewter designers in South Africa.
The conversation piece as you host your dinner guests or a great punctuation to your mid-week meal. Perhaps you just want to take your slow fashion philosophy into other areas of your life. The common denominator remains that expressing your style through home ware is an interior design style trend that is definitely worth considering.Website | Facebook | IG