Ground by Michael Antrobus



New Designers 09: Kingston University graduate Michael Antrobus exhibits a range of stationary made of steel bars at graduate show New Designers in London this week.


Antrobus developed the project while looking for domestic applications for products of the British steel industry; each item in the collection is made of standard, 18 inch sections of ground flat stock - high quality steel normally used for industrial applications like dies, tools and machine blades.


To make the cutting tools, Antrobus twists each length of steel to make a handle and sharpens one edge of the steel into a blade.


The collection includes two pairs of scissors, a T-square, craft knife and tape dispenser.


New Designers continues until Sunday.


See all our stories from New Designers in our special category.

Here's some text from Antrobus:


All the stationery items are made from standard 18 inch sections of Ground Flat Stock. A high quality tool steel, precision machined in sheffield. Once hardened, this steel has a high wear resistance that makes it idea for industrial applications such as dies, press tools, and machine knives.

The project examines possible domestic applicatons and new markets for this industrial product.


Each object follows the same logic. First the length is formed in a fly press, then twisted to create a handle. A blade is then sharpened onto one edge of the steel. Once assembled the steel is hardened and plated.

All making possible was done by myself in the workshop at Kingston University.

2 x scissors
T square
Craft Knife
Tape dispenser

Posted on Saturday July 18th 2009 at 12:03 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • mikaël

    I love the minimal intervention on the material approche and in this case, the result looks flawless.

  • Oh, delicious. Ribbons of steel. I like very much.

  • 1/ I prefer this photo
    2/back in design history: I think to Enzo Mari for his craft knife …. and to Castiglioni for his seat in portfolio…

  • Sarah Welby

    awesome idea and fantastic work – v well done!

  • damfak

    Looks are good but what about ergonomics… Those sissors doesn’t look very confortable….

  • Holly

    Came to New designers today and this was the stand out piece, surprisingly easy to use as well.

  • Booh

    I think that the tape dispenser should have barbed wire wrapped around it or something… or having a place to lock it to your desk… I swear… The Architects roll of tape is the equivalent of the red stapler in the office world… I don’t think I can hold onto a roll of tape long enough to even consider that i’ve owned a roll.

  • deniz

    i really liked it, very sympathetic and warm despite the use of metal -usually gives cold and ugly minimal sence.. but this is nice!

  • looks like enzo mari’s paper knife

  • designgurunyc

    Herein lies the problem. All these items exist in culture already, and over time have been redesigned ad infinitum making their actual use and comfort of use better and better. While the idea of these objects immediately is appealing, at second glance the thought of how the scissors or knife may actually feel, particularly with multiple repeat use, makes us understand that these are a step backwards from what already exists. Please (design students and young designers especially) consider objects are there to be lived with and used. True design considers how things work with human interaction. A chair should be, under usual circumstances, comfortable. An implement should work comfortably and well. An object ,that has concept or form only, but which doesn’t deliver in its apparent use,becomes an ornament.

  • Lizzie Bell

    Have recently been to New Designers and viewed these objects. The products severely lacked any ergonomic consideration; the scissors were stiff and uncomfortable, the craft knife was sharp and when firm pressure applied, stuck into the palm of your hand. The tape dispenser worked quite well but in general, poor aesthetics and even worse ergonomics.

  • nope

    To designgurunyc… “Please (design students and young designers especially) consider objects are there to be lived with and used. True design considers how things work with human interaction. A chair should be, under usual circumstances, comfortable. An implement should work comfortably and well. An object ,that has concept or form only, but which doesn’t deliver in its apparent use,becomes an ornament.”

    -not true.

  • rob

    i’m a past student from kingston and if i’m right this would’ve been a project which each student will have to choose a material to start with, then think of a new/ interesting application for it.

    in this case antrobus had chosen the 18 inch flat steel to start with and warp them into beautiful stationary.

    this would definitely have been a poetic solution to the brief and i personally think its lovely too, just that this is not going to happen in real life and neither is it going to benefit general users; what it does show is that he’s fully aware of the properties of the material and has managed to create a collection which inspires.

    good luck!

  • designgurunyc

    to nope…. A well argued point! I am only too happy to beg to differ. We are each allowed our opinions (especially where the arts are concerned as these are always objective). My view is only that, and in essence it is true for me (‘though obviously not for you!).
    As a point of interest I would love to hear what your intellectual thoughts and considerations are on objects that do not achieve the function they were designed to do or be, and whether the changing perspective of the layman to these objects as an illusion is either still funny or interesting?

  • Sam

    It’s not often I feel compelled to write on these blogs but reading the comments above I couldn’t help myself.
    Designgurunyc. You are right, ‘An implement should work comfortably and well. An object ,that has concept or form only, but which doesn’t deliver in its apparent use, becomes an ornament.’ At which point I think, designguru, If you want a comfortable pair of scissors that you can cut reams of paper or yards of fabric then go and by a pair of orange handled Wilkinson sword and get off design sites. If on the other hand you have a stunning workspace which you wish to adorn with nice objects (Ornaments) that you use on occasion to open a letter or cut the odd piece of paper then these would be much better. You’ve missed the point, it’s not supposed to perform all day, it’s an ‘occassional’ object. This area of design allows us the freedom to escape the confines of strict ergonomics and explore form and process.
    I then read Lizzie Bells post. She states ‘The products severely lacked any ergonomic consideration; the scissors were stiff and uncomfortable.’ Again please read my comments above. I also wish to add at this point that you are viewing a graduates work who has probably produced what designers call a ‘working prototype’. Following this there are normally amendments that bring us to a ‘production model’. Given that Michael probably made these himself I think you need to cut him some slack (No pun intended)
    And to all the people who say, ‘it’s like Enzo Maris.’ So what. Enzo probably wasn’t the first to fashion a piece of metal into a letter opener! Or are you just showing off your superior knowledge of design?
    I salute you Michael Antrobus for designing a lovely set of stationary that uses a single material and process; a mature and intelligent approach to a brief.
    I’m not going to read any more comments on these sites, they just make me angry. I’m off to design some comfy scissors! Good luck to yer Michael..

  • Sebastien

    I also attended the New Designers and used these objects. Antrobus has obviously made, and played around with plenty of prototypes, researching the most comfortable ways which this sheet metal can be twisted and reconstructed.
    I think the final outcome, at this point, is amazing. If you were to own these peices, they would be more for visual stimulation, though still keeping practicality and comfort high on the list.
    Well done, beautiful collection.

  • designgurunyc

    To sebastien… enough already ” if I were to own these peices,(?) they would be more for visual stimulation…” We live in a world that is now (according to design blogs) so far up its own arse that it has lost any sense of perspective. Oh, these are occasional scissors, so that we can smile at our taste while we save the real ones (probably orange handled…) to really do the job they were designed for. As I said , when an object does not perform in its apparent use it becomes an ornament.
    Now please, can people look at other blogs and you will see that I will applaud design where I think it fit and has a point. what is that saying? ‘too many chiefs, not enough indians’. We now have ‘ too many designers not enough design.’
    Thank goodness for the recession , I believe that it will weed out the pretentious from the talented and that design will again gain the respect that it deserves .

  • Sebastien

    Designguru, can you not get out of your one track mind for one second to see that design is not only a term used for practicality, but a greater experience…Physical products with “good design” are intuitive: they feel, sound, look and work elegantly. Good industrial designers have, for much of the 20th century, mastered physically many of the design types described above, creating an impressive history of design for the human body, senses, environment and mind in a way that transcends, evokes and transforms experiences the user performs with the product. (according to design blogs anyway)

  • designgurunyc

    Sebastien, I agree with you. Design is not purely about function, and making something more elegant, feel better, or touch one’s imagination are all benefits of good design. It is this that makes us replace our existing pans/objects/furniture with something that’s design has moved us or seems clever or new. I think function is also a factor that one considers ALONGSIDE these other factors and although I may have not made myself clear or have sidetracked myself with a rant, I am as touched by beauty as the next design addict. Its just that , for me (and again I accept other people will think differently) I am not pleasured or excited by these objects. I think the wonderful thing about these blogs is that it shows a cross section of people with very different opinions, and that they are each passionate enough to voice them.

  • Mike

    Who would have thought that items of stationary could provoke such reaction. This must be truly great art. I’d like them as “ornaments”.

  • like it.

    i love a scissor form
    i already makes 2 scissors for my artwork. thats why i like this scissors too..