Photography by: Cerys Manford and MJ Smith
Words by Harry Potts
Liam Hopkins is one of the UK’s most exciting and innovative designers and artists. His design skills are very much in demand, with his creative work in architectural decoration, lighting, furniture, jewellery and sculpture featured and exhibited not only in Manchester, but across the UK and internationally.
Liam is based at his design studio Lazerian in Denton where hand-craft and technology are compounded to create radical solutions. Traditional techniques combined with modern computer-based modelling and pattern cutting enable Lazerian to explore new concepts in multi-dimensional design. The studio is especially interested in materials like paper, wood and carbon fibre.
Born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester in 1985, Liam’s creativity began as a kid in a home where televisions, radios or kettles were never chucked out, they were disassembled and examined. At 13 he restored a rusty old Lambretta. At 15 he began the restoration of an unloved Mini, returned to pristine condition by the time he passed his driving test at 17. In 2000, Liam enrolled on a 3D design course at Tameside Technical College, followed by a 3D course at MMU which allowed him to experiment creatively with materials – glass, metal, wood and ceramics. In his final months at university he leased a unit in a mill in Mossley and set up his own workshop – specialising in hand crafted wooden door-stops… humble beginnings.
Eventually commissions started to come. Liam cites his first breakthrough as a table designed and made for the Liverpool Design Show, which won best in show for furniture design. Then a more ‘refined’ design piece was runner up in the 2008 Grand Design Awards – a piece which is now in the permanent collection of the Moscow Design Museum.
Liam’s design journey then went from strength to strength, with commissions for products and projects for such as Liberty, Heal’s and Habitat, followed by awards and exhibitions… Milan, New York, London.
Most recently, Liam has been asked to return to the Manchester School of Art (MMU) to become an associate lecturer on the product design and craft/3D design course.
“Most of my projects until the last three years have been in London, I’m happy that now a lot of my work is in my home town.”
Although these major commissions allowed Liam to create his Lazerian brand, he has realised his passion is designing and creating one off projects.
“Manchester has a reputation for innovation and creativity, It’s a city where people don’t wait around to be asked, it’s full of people who get stuff done and others follow”
Student reflection: Cerys Manford
Going into this shoot with Liam I was slightly nervous as I have never done photography under pressure before, however I enjoyed learning the process involved in trying to capture a subject’s personality. I did have a few technical issues working in variable light conditions – adjusting camera ISO and positioning our LED lights – but once these issues where resolved I had fun directing Liam. I was pleased with most of my images and have realised that the key to creative photography is experimentation. From this experience I gained extremely useful knowledge on how planned shoots work and more importantly how to interact with the people involved.
© All images – The Manchester College (unless otherwise stated)