Gaida Leif spent her time during the Covid-19 lockdown reconnecting with the natural world. Her background in interior architecture meant she spent countless hours behind a screen creating technical drawings which made her creative process mechanical. She realised that these devices were draining while she found solace between the trees and under the sun. For her graduate showcase she decided to take the approach of learning through making and letting raw materials and her mood take control of the creative narrative.

Gaida Leif’s graduate project explores how natural forces and energy could be harnessed and utilised to inform contemporary design and craft processes. By creating a series of tools and equipment she is able to direct nature’s energy, such as the heat and light from the sun to fabricate and adorn wooden vessels. These tools, allow Gaida to etch, burn and scorch natural materials are not just a means to an end, but also help re-connect us to the natural world and embrace slow-design.

Slow means the physical and mental processes of slowing down, taking a breath, allowing natures timescale rather than the mechanical to take control of events within our lives. All our lives have been put to a halt in this pandemic, and this has led to many of us pausing and reflecting on what we really value.

In the context of design, this means re-examining the process of production, repositioning technology, and allowing room for nature to take control of the creative processes. Additionally, there has been a general feeling of time being distorted due to the pandemic. This project also acts as a marker of time which responds with unpredictability in parallel to the uniformity and conventions that govern every aspect of our lives. There is beauty in working with, rather than against nature, and taking time to contemplate and value the fleeting time we have in this world.