We are extremely saddened to hear of the recent death of Miranda Watkins, a very talented and award-winning multi-disciplinary designer. Miranda had been a member of our network since 2006 and in 2008 won the EUREKA prize for her Gleam range of spun pewter vessels.
The statement pieces comprising Miranda’s Gleam tableware range were developed with Wentworth Pewter, as part of Design-Nation’s five year EUREKA programme of brokered designer-maker collaborations with manufacturers and retailers, and were exhibited at the Royal Festival Hall during London Design Festival 2008. Miranda went on to create the complementary Gleam Bar range, and in 2014 she launched two more striking variations with Design-Nation at Decorex. The classic elegance of Grey Gleam as well as her Colour Gleam range were designed as bespoke collections, their specialist finishes achieved with brushing, polishing and multi-hued powder-coating. A selection from this range was acquired by the prestigious and world renowned Vitra Design Museum’s VitraHaus.
Wentworth Pewter’s MD Richard Abdy recalls their work together: “Miranda approached Wentworths as a designer interested in working with us, something which is quite common and can work but often doesn’t. However Miranda’s unique approach was to get to know, in depth, both the material and our crafts people, so that we really worked well together. This extended to finding out the individual skills and mindset of each craftsperson in our team. Thereby we created objects that showcased the beauty of the material and the fantastic skills that the team has developed over the years. As such her loss was a great shock to everyone at Wentworth’s: Miranda was very much part of the team and not just another designer passing through the factory.”
Miranda’s innovative designs for contemporary interiors were created in her central London studio, where she enjoyed working on a diverse range of creative projects, from large-scale commissioned artworks to mass-produced designs for global brands. In 2010 Wallpaper* magazine commissioned her to create the Martini Cocktail Set, subsequently acquired by the V&A. Other clients have included Calvin Klein, Swatch Group, Barney’s NY, Lane Crawford, Mulberry, Skagen, The Conran Shop, Heal’s, Harrod’s, Liberty, Universal Music Group, Orient Express and Balineum.
Across collections comprising mobile sculptures, lighting, furniture, and tabletop products, Miranda embraced both traditional techniques and cutting edge technology in her designs. The award winning tabletop collections were created in a broad range of materials, from hand-crafted pewter to engineered anodized aluminum and polished stainless steel. Whether hand crafted or precision engineered, the work of the Miranda Watkins studio was known for exquisite quality and high-grade materials, all flawlessly hand finished exclusively in British workshops.
Design-Nation’s brand ambassador Andrew Tanner said, “Miranda’s career and work in pewter was ground breaking in what she did. She was incredibly talented and a great advocate of the work of our founder Peta Levi MBE. Her loss is so sad.”
Miranda’s work is in the permanent collections of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Victoria & Albert Museum, Pallant House Gallery, and Kensington Palace. Miranda was born and raised in London and trained in metalwork and jewellery at Middlesex University before going on to receive her MA in Fashion Womenswear at the Royal College of Art, London. Post-graduation Miranda worked as a designer/maker of costume props and jewellery for films such as Batman, Titanic, Evita, Elizabeth, and Brave Heart before designing jewellery for well-known designer brands. Miranda then lived and worked in NY where she was senior design consultant in metals and jewellery for Calvin Klein, before returning back to her hometown of London to solely focus on her own inspiring brand Miranda Watkins Design Ltd.
The numerous products that Miranda produced in her lifetime were distinguished by their sleek contemporary lines, whether as curving or linear forms, and by the excellence of finish. Miranda sought and achieved perfection in her work, creating an outstanding body of modern British design, thoughtfully conceived, gracefully executed and a significant contribution to the sector. The rigorous high standards and exacting design eye that Miranda brought to her work is a legacy we at Design-Nation are proud to share and celebrate.
Her family and design partners are working on a plan to reveal Miranda’s final collection, designed in her final months in 2020. This legacy project will be accompanied by publication of a book that will showcase her life’s work, proceeds from the sales of which will go to Sarcoma UK. More details will follow later this year.