Founded in London in 2012 by siblings Pia and Moritz Wüstenberg, Utopia & Utility is a design studio focusing on craft manufacturing and handmade objects. Their designs marry function and poetic design and frequently incorporate mixed media, including glass, copper, ceramics, and wood.
Pia (born in Mainz, Germany in 1986) and Moritz (born in Mainz in 1988) were raised in a German-Finnish family. The pair grew up travelling between the two countries, appreciating the contrasts between cultures. At the age of fifteen, Pia—Utopia & Utility’s main designer and creative director—moved to England to study. After a foundation year of studies in glass, ceramics, and metal at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, she went on to study furniture design and craftsmanship at Buckinghamshire University, ultimately earning a Bachelor’s degree from the latter in 2008. That same year, she founded, Piadesign, in North Karelia, Finland. In 2009, she returned to London to attend the Royal College of Arts; she graduated with a Masters degree in Design Products in 2011. In 2012, she partnered with her brother Moritz, and the pair established Utopia & Utility.
Pia was nominated for the Perrier- Jouet Arts Salone Prize & shortlisted for the Homes & Gardens Designer Awards in 2015 and the Elle Decoration for the British Design Awards in 2012.
Each of the elements to each sculptural vessel is the fruit of careful craftsmanship: woodturning, metal turning, ceramic throwing and glass blowing form the functional sculptures.
The glass that forms Pia’s pieces is always mouth-blown, and most is made in Bohemia in Czechia.
This region has an old tradition and inherited skills in mould blowing glass and this allows them to make both small and large scale pieces accurately (from 10 to 70cm).
For some freehand blown collections such as Heiki and Branch Bowls, Pia works with glassblowers in Wiltshire, UK, in a specialised hotshop for the production of art glassware.
The wood is felled in the right season and dried very slowly. Most of the wood is either Birch or Alder. Birch forests characterise the Finnish landscapes, Alder trees grow along the hundreds of thousands of lakeshores that pierce through the ancient Finnish geography. The logs are split in the middle and dried outdoors for one annual cycle and after this moved indoors for another annual cycle. This means it takes about two years from felling the tree before the timber is seasoned to be processed. The slow seasoning time has to be respected in order to preserve the bark edge.
Metals used in Pia’s designs (Copper, Brass, Aluminium and Corten Steel) are shaped and finished by a small family business in London. There, the skills of spinning metal are being passed on from one generation to the next making sure that the secrets of experience live on.
Metal spinning does not involve removal of material, as in conventional wood or metal turning but forming (moulding) of sheet material over an existing shape. The Metals are spun from solid sheets, which are pushed over a positive form using a metal tool guided by the maker’s hand.
To see more of Pia’s designs for Utopia & Utility click here