Autotelic Objects for New Balance | Footpatrol Discussions

18.12.23 Footpatrol Discussions

Straight from the design boards within New Balance HQ, the New Balance WRPD Runner aims to blur the lines when it comes to retro running inspiration and modern design. Continuing their exploration within traditional craftsmanship, NB seamlessly blend this with the latest technology to make sure this newest silhouette for a conceptual design that has the legs to last.

With a sculptured aesthetic with a minimalist approach, we headed out to East London to meet Justas Silkauskas, founder of Autotelic Objects. Much like New Balance, Justas brings a modern day approach to a traditional craft. Much like the full length Fuelcell within the WRPD Runner, Justas uses these modern technologies to enhance the traditional craft of ceramics to create unique everyday objects. Everyday objects that when using creates special experiences to the holder.

From initial doodles on paper, to 3D printed variations to test and perfect designs, Justas only then takes to the method of Slip Casting. We catch up with him to better understand this process and how he’s developed these methods to suit his craft

Footpatrol: Hey Justas, thanks for letting us come down and visit the studio today. First and foremost, how’s your year been?

Justas Silkauskas: It’s been a dynamic and creative year for me, filled with exciting projects and collaborations. I’ve been pushing the boundaries of my craft and exploring new designs.

FP: For those of our audience who may not be aware, could you give us an insight into you and the world of ‘Autotelic Objects’?

JS: “Autotelic” is a term that embodies the essence of self-driven purpose and intrinsic motivation. In my creative journey, “autotelic” encapsulates my philosophy—a personal drive and intrinsic motivation that brings fulfillment and meaning to my craft. For me, it signifies a deep passion for creating art for the sheer joy of it, propelled by an internal desire to delve into innovative techniques and challenge the limits of traditional craftsmanship. The outcome is a collection of unique and meaningful objects that represent the essence of my creative exploration.

FP: What we found unique about you and your work was your processes. We feel like you’re blending modern technologies with an old traditional craft. From paper with hand drawn designs, 3D printing methods and then clay. 

How do these processes benefit your work? Does it allow you to create more obscure objects?

JS: Combining these processes allows me to experiment with different materials and techniques, pushing the boundaries of what’s traditionally possible. The synergy of old and new methods enables me to create objects that are not only visually intriguing but also functionally unique. It opens up a realm of possibilities for creating truly distinctive and obscure pieces.

FP: It’s great to see people teaching and perfecting self-taught skills like you and slipcasting. Could you give us an insight into this method?

JS: Slipcasting is a technique I’ve honed through self-teaching. It involves pouring liquid clay into molds, allowing for the creation of intricate and detailed forms. The process allows me to reproduce designs with precision, giving each piece a consistent quality while maintaining the handcrafted essence.

FP: How has the transition been from self-taught to having products sold and available in some very notable stores? A bit surreal?

JS: The transition has been incredibly rewarding and, yes, a bit surreal. Seeing my creations on shelves in renowned stores is a testament to the dedication and passion I’ve poured into perfecting my craft. It motivates me to continue evolving and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

FP: What’s some of the difficulties when it comes to this method? Does it come down to the mould itself, the slip or is it like most crafts they all need to be in sync to be perfect? 

JS: Each step in slipcasting requires meticulous attention. The mold design, the consistency of the slip, and the casting process all play crucial roles. Achieving perfection requires a harmonious balance of these elements, and any deviation can pose challenges. It’s a delicate dance that demands precision.

FP: The thing with all of your designs is that they all seem to have a functional element as well as an aesthetically pleasing design. Is this a must for you when it comes to sitting down and thinking of the next concept or can looks sometimes take lead over function?

JS: Functionality and aesthetics go hand in hand for me. I believe that objects should not only be visually appealing but also serve a purpose. The challenge lies in finding the perfect equilibrium between form and function, creating pieces that are not only beautiful but also enrich the user’s experience.

FP: What’s the next design you’re aiming to come up with or shall we stay locked to your socials…? 👀

JS: ​​I’m always exploring new concepts, and you can definitely stay tuned to my socials for exciting updates. There are some innovative designs in the pipeline that I can’t wait to share with the world.

FP: So we’re with you today to celebrate the launch of the New Balance WRPD RNR in the brown/black colourway. What drew me to you and this silhouette was the sculptural aspect of the midsole and the curves. It reminded me of your Pourer. 

Is there anything else away from ceramics that you’d like to apply your design skills?

JS: Ceramics will always be at the core of my work, but I’m intrigued by the idea of exploring design in different realms. Whether it’s collaborating on unique designs or venturing into other materials, I’m open to expanding the horizons of Autotelic Objects.

FP: I think that’s it from us… A huge thank you once again for allowing us to come down and document you and your work. It’s been a real insight to see the combination of technologies and traditional handcrafted techniques come together. 

JS: Thank you for visiting! It’s been a pleasure sharing my creative journey with you. I look forward to more exciting projects and collaborations in the future.

Footpatrol: We tend to leave this last question up to our interviewee to share anything they have coming up or to share some inspiration to our audience 

JS: Keep an eye out for upcoming releases and collaborations. I draw inspiration from the world around me, and I encourage everyone to find beauty in the intersection of tradition and innovation. Stay curious and keep creating.

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