A design for living in Sheffield

Arist and designer Paul Carruthers at his home in Grenoside with some of his work
Arist and designer Paul Carruthers at his home in Grenoside with some of his work
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LIGHTS, tables, chairs, lamps, bookshelves and now striking art pieces - you name it, Paul Carruthers has made it. Star reporter Rachael Clegg takes a look at some of the Sheffield designer’s creations.

PAUL Carruthers lives and breathes design.

And his home in Grenoside is a testament to this.

Colours, forms and ambience blend harmoniously and almost everything looks to be a work of art in its own right - because it is

Paul, a designer and furniture manufacturer for more than 20 years, has designed and built the majority of items in his home himself.

Paul admits he always knew he was creative.

“I am a great believer in that people should be allowed to think creatively,” he says. “We don’t have a programme in our schools that allows children to think creatively - it’s all about academic results.”

Rather than going to college, Paul learnt his craft the hard way - leaving school to join an engineering works and then working as a furniture maker.

“It’s been an interesting journey and it’s never felt like it’s been very planned but I fell into making furniture,” he says.

While working as a furniture-maker, Paul made some lighting, which was well received, he then won the Lighting Association’s Lighting Show design award.

“I won a few more awards for my lighting and then all of a sudden I was a ‘lighting designer’,” he says.

His lighting is striking. In the dining room, an orange glass light clings to the wall. It is textured and bold.

“I made that myself,” he says, “I used to manufacture these things.”

He also made low-hanging pendant lights which hang above his kitchen table.

“They’re made of raffia,” he says. “I also made some which are covered in wool, which give a lovely ambient glow.

“There are Chinese people copying the designs, which I wouldn’t mind if they would at least gave me credit for it.”

But the lighting most familiar to Sheffielders are the ‘Torches’ on the gate posts at the entrance to Globe Works, Penistone Road, one of his many public commissions.

There is no limit to Paul’s creations. He also built his kitchen table - a huge, minimalist bench made of thick chunks of smooth solid oak. “I wanted a contemporary bench-style table to fit this space so I made this. That was my brief.”

In fact, his home is his brief. Even the floorboards are framed with a sharp, off-white border.

“If I have an idea, I can construct it. I’m really handy.”

And then there’s the artwork itself.

Adjacent to the oak bench hang three decoupage images, made up of cuttings from fifties catalogues and magazines. Each picture has its own meaning, though the materials and rendering are the same.

“Everything means something,” he says. “But at the same time they have to look good. It’s ok to have an idea but it has to be rendered well, otherwise, there’s no point. You have to do justice to a good idea.”

Unlike many artists and designers, Paul works regular hours like a working day.

“The discipline of going to work every day hasn’t left me,” he says. “Even though I could deconstruct my day and work at night I still work during the day. I don’t like working in the evening.”

His ‘workplace’ is next to the kitchen, it’s a cross-over between a graphic designer’s office and a fine artist’s haven. There are spray cans, stickers, scraps of paper, pictures frames, framed finished art work and even - somewhat incongruously - a 1982 Vespa scooter in the middle of the room.

Two French doors lead from the studio to the garden, a landscaped terrace that overlooks fields and a woods.

“Here’s my other pieces,” he say. He stops next to a rusty metal rectangle, onto which ‘MILK, MILK LEMONADE’ is sprayed. “That’s even got some sour milk and my own urine on that - it’s real,” he says.

Thee pieces, along with several of Paul’s decoupage images will soon be on exhibition at Barnsley Civic later this month. Paul Carruther’s exhibition, Paul Carruther’s Has No IQ, runs from Saturday September 8 until Saturday November 10 at Barnsley Civic’s Panorama.