As part of the new Academy of Innovation and Research development at University College Falmouth (AIR), Autonomatic is moving house both physically and virtually. To find new projects and information on our activities visit us here.


After meeting Tom Bewick, CEO of Cretive and Cultural Skills, at the CRAFT Blueprint launch at the House of Commons last June, I managed to persuade him to come to visit Autonomatic in the Design Centre to get to know a bit more about Digital Craft at UCF. Tom made it down last Thurs – 21st Jan – with Alvin White, Senior Policy Advisor. The Autonomatic team gave them a tour and a visual presentation and were joined by Patrick Gottelier, UCF’s Director of Design and Jason Cleverly, Course Leader for Contemporary Crafts. Tom was impressed and suggested that policy makers were largely unaware of this kind of work within the Crafts sector, and that they definitely needed to know about it! 

Autonomatic provided feedback through an open consultation on the development of the CRAFT Blueprint in 2008. The CRAFT Blueprint is one of CCskills strategy documents for creative industry sectors.   A piece of Drummond Masterton’s work appears on page 33 and Autonomatic get a mention on page 42.

See the Blueprint at 

and Tom’s twitter at

1497 Plates

January 26, 2010

Dr Katie Bunnellworked collaboratively on the installation with project artist Chris Tipping.




In celebration of the Combe Down Stone Mines Stabilisation Project

The Octagon, 25 Milson Place, Bath

24th October – 18th November 2009 

After attending an ArtQuest conference held at the RIBA in Feb 09, where I was presenting the work of Autonomatic, University College Falmouth’s 3D Digital Research cluster, public artist Chris Tipping approached me with a collaborative project proposal to create a commemorative map of Combe Down Mine that would be presented on a 9m x 5m wall of ceramic plates. In addition to the creation of this vast, digitally produced artwork, each householder with a property on the map would be gifted the individual plate that showed their house within the overall design. Chris’ concept emphasised the layering of digital data from geological surveys and ordinance survey, with hand drawn elements derived from archaeological finds and the cultural influence of mining in the village. The design process would involve a combination of digital designing, hand drawing and the one-off ceramic production capabilities of digital ceramic print technology, all of which mapped onto Autonomatic’s research and production interests and expertise.

We were excited and enthusiastic about the project from the start. It  presented us with useful challenges from a number of perspectives including: the technical demands of working on a vast scale with huge amounts of digital data;  the complexity and sometimes seemingly contradictory requirement for the design to work at scale, but also for each plate to have an aesthetic quality and clarity of its own; the need to experiment with new drawing tools and develop innovative qualities that would enable us to realise Chris’ ideas; and finally the need to produce  these qualities in a digitally printed ceramic form.

The final design is a result of a dynamic and open working relationship between the artist and researchers at Autonomatic. The plate layout and hanging methods were developed through discussion with Chris and drawn up by digital production technician, Adam Stringer. The creative team, lead by Katie Bunnell, worked closely with Chris, responding to and working with his emerging design concept.

There was a vast quantity of digital data on which to build Chris’ vision and the challenge in the early stages of the process was to reduce the data to the most significant elements and then throughout the project, to develop treatments for these that would give them an appropriate weight and significance in the overall design.

“Chris would describe verbally and through visual references and sketches, what he wanted to achieve, we would try things out, show them to him and discuss developing qualities. Through this emergent and discursive process the map began to take shape. Some of the qualities we developed were based on digital drawing methods we’d used previously, such as the concentric line quality of the ‘sea’ around the island, some qualities were developed specifically for the purpose of this project, the pattern fills for the houses and the swarming bats for example involved us in experimenting with new tools. Much of the quality of the line imagery results from using Chris’ fine hand drawings as the starting point”.

The consistent challenge with all the elements we worked on was to get them working across the whole image and with the right level of detail and aesthetic quality for an individual dinner plate. Colour relationships, translucency and line weights all became increasingly important as the map progressed.  The resulting image brings the deepest underground elements to the surface: the mine roadway creates a connecting arterial pathway through the remaining columns of rock, creating the island boundary and through which the houses of Combe Down, patterned with domestic blue and white ceramic motifs, remain visible. Thickets of leeks span the island representing the Welsh mining teams whose presence was significant both below and above the surface, and the island boundary is defined by a sea of beasts significant to the Combe Down environment.

The use of CAD software enabled us to work on a vast scale, albeit very slowly at times, and to separate out and treat each layer of data individually while being able to review it as part of an overall design. We were able to develop new aesthetic qualities and to play with old patterns and designs alongside these.

In software terms the development process made use of Auto-CAD, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, FreeSign, SolidWorks and Corel Draw. There were some issues of data compatibility and suitability of data for design development which were largely overcome through discussion with the engineers at Combe Down who kindly supplied data in a variety of formats as required.

A one day symposium focused Creative Practice in the Digital Age held at De Montfort University, Leicester on the 16th of November 2009.

The event included presentations from leading practitioners from art, craft and design of work that focuses on the creative use of emergent digital technologies in the making of artefacts.

Speakers on the day included: Assa Ashuach, Keith Brown, Annie Cattrell, Lionel T Dean, FutureFactories, Philip Delamore, Geoffrey Mann, John Marshall and Tavs from Autonomatic.

 The event concluded a very busy series of autumn guest lectures, talks and presentation by Tavs, which also included venues such as the Mixed Reality Lab (University of Nottingham) and the Computer Lab at Open University in Milton Keynes.

De Montfort University, Leicester

Open University, Milton Keynes

School of Computing Science, University of Nottingham

Autonomatic in Tallinn

November 27, 2009

We were invited to exhibit as guest group at the 5th Estonian Triennial for the Applied Arts, so if you happen to be in Tallinn pop in to the Estonian Museum of Applied Arts, were we will be showing until February the 21st.

The Triennial, with the title “Know How”, is curated by Kärt Maran focussing on the notion of ‘the knowledge of making’. All the contributors to the show were required to submit a manual of how the artefact had been created, this manual is shown along side the exhibits to Illustrate how the knowledge of process and material, is such a key aspect for applied arts sector.

As a part of the Triennial a one day symposium with contributors mainly from Estonia but also a couple of international speakers including Tavs from Autonomatic. The other international speaker was the Israeli designer Ronen Kadushin, who outlined his work with open source design.

The symposium was moderated by Kai Lobjakas who also curated a really interesting satellite show at the Hobusepea Gallery which featured the Estonian DIY magazine: “Practical Kunst ja Kodu” (which was published until the 1970s).

The whole event was really cohesive focused on the notion of making and “know how” of the maker.

Link to the event:

October / November is turning out to be such a hectic period that it is proving difficult keeping the blog up to date with news worthy events. 
One of the major news stories is that Tavs travelled to Beijing to deliver an invited presentation to Icograda – World Design Congress during the first ever Beijing Design Week. Icograda is  ‘The International Council of Graphic Design Associations’. Apart from delivering the presentation titled “Digital Drawing”, Tavs was also invited to sit on a Discussion Panels debating the topic of ‘cross disciplinary collaboration in design’ along with ARUP’s senior consultant Dan Hill, Fiona Raby from the RCA and Thomas Castro, Jeroen Barendse from the Dutch design group LUST.

A final contribution from Tavs was a question and answer panel session with the rest of the “Define” parallel sessions speakers: David Small from MIT, design critic Peter Hall (UK, US), Daniel Makoski Microsoft  and up-and-coming Chinese Book designer Les Suen.

The event opened with a day of keynote presentations at the impressive National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, including the presentation of the Adobe Achievement Awards. The conference then moved venue to Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) for parallel sessions and later in the week also an educational conference. Icograda formed the key focus of Beijing’s first ever design week which featured a number of events across the city.

More on the event here:

More on Icograda here:

Icograda opening at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing


Lust, Tavs, Dan Hill and Fiona Raby

We’re in the FT!

October 23, 2009

– more specifically  in the ‘How to Spend it’ weekend suppliment to The FInancial Times, Sarturday the 17/10/2009 

Emma Crichton-Millers’ article on digital craft titled: “Look – no hands” feature images of both Drummond and Tavs’ work and a description of the work of Autonomatic in general