Tom Gyr is a designer and craftsman who makes beautiful calligraphy pens from re-purposed or sustainable materials. He is our latest Circularity Champion and he spoke to us about building a less throwaway culture and sustainable innovation.
Describe Tom’s Studio in 20 words or less
Creative tools to last a lifetime and treasure for the rest of your life.
You can create anything with a pen! It’s the starting point from which all creative ideas are made real. To make tools that may possibly inspire or help folks on this journey gets me out of bed in the morning.
Pens are treated by many people as disposable (1.6 billion pens are thrown away every year in the US alone). What can the average person do to help create a less throw away culture?
A good start would be to live by William Morris’ wise words: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
What does craftsmanship mean to you?
For me it’s addictive. I love using my hands to make things. To have an idea and then create a physical object is incredibly satisfying. From a consumer’s perspective I also value objects that have been hand-made, and it’s always clear to me that they have a ‘soul’, something which is never present in a mass-produced object.
You’ve worked with many innovative and sustainable materials – any highlights?
I really enjoy collaborations with brands that I love and respect. Hiut Denim springs to mind, I used waste offcuts from their jeans, cast them into a solid block and was then able to turn it on the lathe to make a pen. I’ve used plastic collected during a 5 minute beach clean to make a series of pens that highlight pollution in the oceans and have also made a pen from disposable coffee cups!
Sustainability and material provenance are incredibly important to me.
What does the future hold for Tom’s Studio?
To be honest the dream was to make a living designing and making things. I’m very happy staying small and working on projects and products that are important to me and that, hopefully, others find useful and beautiful for generations to come.
Long-term and separate to the business, I’ve become obsessed with permaculture and resilient living, so I’m looking at buying a piece of land to create a community food forest.
You started out making furniture. How seriously did you think sustainability was taken by the industry?
At the time (graduating in 2008) it seemed the culture around design considered sustainability a bit of an after-thought. This seems to have shifted and I hope that more and more designers start their process with sustainability at the front of their minds. This, I’m sure, will lead to far more innovative and sustainable solutions.
Education is key here and I think the more the industry talks about these solutions and makes them more open source the better.
Who is your biggest ‘sustainability crush’?
Sebastian Cox. An incredible and sustainable craftsman and ambassador for the British Countryside.
If you were in charge of the UK, what three things would you do for the environment?
Education. We need to get excited about sustainable practices. Nature is incredibly generous at providing all we need to live in a sustainable way. But I think people feel lost and powerless about what they can do to alleviate the situation. If children are taught sustainable practices at an early age, I’m sure the choices they make in later life will make a vast and positive impact on the world.
When are you happiest?
In nature with my family.